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There were more 10-gallon Stetsons than top hats at the International Live Stock Exposition Horse Show in Chicago, but there was plenty of elegance in the horse show ring and as much color—if of a different kind—as any fashionable Madison Square Garden event produces. Hemmed in by acres of cattle and booths displaying everything for the farm from lightning rods (complete with artificial lightning) to a mechanical mother feeding eight fat white piglets, stylishly attired ladies drove ponies and top-hatted gentlemen rode three-gaited horses about the tanbark in the International Amphitheatre at the stockyards.
Perhaps the most elegant competitor of all, particularly when driving a pair of horses to a phaeton with an attendant in maroon livery riding behind, was 75-year-old Mrs. Loula Long Combs. Her presence adds a very special quality to whatever show she attends, and she never fails to add to her collection of blue ribbons. In Chicago, Mrs. Combs, who has been showing horses since the 19th century, demonstrated with ease that she is still the nation's best whip by winning more first awards than anybody—11.
The ribbons in the junior divisions were competed for with that special intensity that seems to go with children's classes. The very first class of the nine-day horse show was a horsemanship class for boys, and 15-year-old Joe Greathouse, invading the North from Kentucky, won it. A second invasion followed when 40 fellow members of Louisville's Rock Creek Riding Club chartered two Pullmans and arrived for the last day of the show to cheer on Joe and his gray mare, Blue Champagne, in the championship class.
Fifty-seven young riders had entered the big event. Mrs. Greathouse, taking no chances, was at pains to put on the same blue outfit she had worn when her son won his first-day class. Fine riders on good Saddle Horses circled, lined up, worked some more, lined up, worked again. A tense hour passed and finally the decisions were announced. Joe Greathouse had won the horsemanship championship. It was a big win for anyone, but even more notable for Joe because this was only the second time in more than 30 years that a boy had won this event. For some unknown reason, perhaps better coordination, more teen-age girls ride Saddle Horses than do boys of the same age (even though most professional riders are men) and seem, generally, to do a better job of it.
Young Joe accepted his victory with modest aplomb, but his mother's excitement was unrestrained. "When they called his number," she gasped later, "I got dizzy and everything went black. Then I started to whoop and clap; I forgot to act like a lady, but I don't think anybody around me cared, because by that time they all knew I was a mother."
The climactic event of the show was the world's championship five-gaited stake. For eight straight years the Dodge Stables' Wing Commander, with Earl Teater up, had won the award. This year the greatest show horse of all time was retired and the field was open. The Dodge Stables still had a strong candidate, a full sister to Wing Commander named Dream Waltz. Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Long's Shannondale, winner of the stake at the Kansas City Royal, presented powerful competition. Furthermore, the Dodge's trainer-rider Earl Teater was still grounded with a broken leg (SI, Oct. 31). His brother Lloyd was subbing for him, as well as showing his own customer's horses.
"It's hard work having champions," Lloyd Teater said before stake night. "Sometimes it's more fun just to have a stable of good winners. The pressure is not as bad—everybody isn't out to beat you—but I'll take the champions!"
Earl Teater couldn't agree with his brother more. "All those years that Wing Commander was undefeated—it got so everybody watched him all the time—he couldn't make a mistake, not even a little one. And he never did, but just before each class I'd wonder...."
Lloyd rode and drove to two championships—in the three-gaited stake with Thomas Corcoran's Emerald Future and the roadster stake with Mrs. Elizabeth Erickson's Senator Playboy—and then the five-gaited stake was on. Dream Waltz trotted and racked with brilliance and form, and when it was all over Lloyd accepted the ninth world's championship for the Dodge Stables. The Teater brothers again face a new year with that familiar feeling of showing champions.
The horses in the hunter and jumper divisions were not of the same high quality as those in the saddle and harness events, but here and there some good jumping was seen. The knock-down-and-out class, with a number of clean horses, was finally won by Donegal, owned and ridden by Miss Kay Allen of Columbus, Ohio. Two other noteworthy classes were the fine harness stake, won by Sunnyslope Farms' spectacular Lemon Drop Kid; and one of the finest junior five-gaited stakes seen in a long time, won by Sabre, a fast-moving chestnut gelding, ridden by Tuck Higgins.