|One of the founding sires of Upwey Farms, Peavine is a controversial sire because of the obvious saddlebred blood he carried. Indeed he was double registed as an American Saddlehorse and a Morgan, as the morgan registry was open at that time. Peavine was shown as a Saddlebred in 5 - gaited and fine harness classes. 1939 marked his debut as a Morgan show horse at the first Nationals. Some argue that he made a great contribution to the contemporary Morgan horse. Others feel his saddlebred blood is an impurity in the many morgans that feature him in their pedigrees.|
|The Last Bass Horse by Lynn Weatherman - June 1977
Noble H. Hite from McCredie, Mo., a tiny hamlet near Mexico, was a long-time farmer-breeder of fine Saddle Horses, and is remembered for having owned the stallion Astral Jones, a 16 hand son of Astral King. The dam of Astral Jones was a daughter of Bourbon King. The Hite tradition is still carried on by Noble's grandnephew, trainer Jimmie Hite. In 1931, Noble Hite bought the mare Old Hockaday, by Dr. Hockaday, by Rex Peavine, whose dam was by Rex Denmark. In 1932 she produced a bright chestnut colt by Astral Jones, marked with four white socks and a stripe in his face. Noble Hite, like most of the Mexico horsemen, was a friend to Tom Bass, and he turned the loud colored youngster over to the famous black trainer as a yearling. Bass was in semi-retirement, but still wanted something "just to fool around with," and declared the young horse "one of the finest prospects to wear a halter."
| In 1932, Hite had completed an application for registration of the
young stallion, naming him Bass' King Peavine in honor of his friend. The
second choice was after himself, Hite's King Peavine. However, the
application was not filed with the American Saddle Horse Breeders
Association, until seven years after the horse was foaled.
On November 20, 1934, the legendary black horseman, Tom Bass, died at
Mexico. In order to clear up financial matters, Noble Hite sold Bass' King
Peavine to Tom's estate. Perhaps he owed a board bill or maybe his action
was simply a donation; the specifics of the transaction may never be known,
but in actuality the horse went to Johnny Woods.
John C. Woods had worked for Tom Bass as a youth. He went on to become
John Hook's partner in their successful training and show stable at Paris,
Mo., from 1904 to 1913.
His wife was the former Grace Brunk, daughter of Joseph Brunk,
Springfield, Ill., a pioneer in the breeding and showing of top Morgan
Woods had fallen on hard times partially due to the depression and
partially his own doing. He and Grace had moved to Sutherland Farm,
Shelburne, N.H., where he had worked both Saddlebreds and Morgans for O. B.
The Woods later returned to Springfield where the show string was kept at
the State Fairgrounds, then moved to Lakeside Farm, Toronto, Ill., near
In the Spring of 1933, John Woods contracted with Mrs. Tom Bass and her
attorney Joseph Harris, to take the horse and show him and stand him at
stud. Woods was to keep any stud fees and prize money, but to try to sell
him. Mrs. Bass was to receive $600 and they were to split any of the sale
price over that amount. The agreement was for one year, with an option for
Bass' King Peavine did attract several mares from the Springfield area,
and owners of the resultant foals discovered to their dismay that they
could not be registered.
Noble Hite still held the registration application and apparently would
not act upon it until Angie Bass had been paid.
John Woods' story, which appeared in a Springfield newspaper, that he
had been willed the horse by Tom Bass, was not true. One old-timer familiar
with the sticky situation said, "Johnny Woods simply 'stole' the horse."
Bass' King Peavine was shown at the Illinois State Fair of 1935, winning
the model class for stallions three years and over. He was a beautiful
animal, but could be faulted for lack of size, standing a bare 15.2. He was
also a bit narrow chested, but possessed a big eye and an exceptionally
Reserve in this event was Proctor's Red Light, who went on to greater
fame. Shick Shack Chief was third.
He was shown by Woods in a five-gaited class at the 1936 Illinois State
Fair, getting in the money, but not showing quite enough action for a top
John and Grace Woods moved east again, this time to Springfield, Mass.,
the town that produced Justin Morgan. Bass' King Peavine was exhibited at a
few Eastern shows and was in the ribbons.
About this time the Morgan Horse breed was in trouble. Saddlebreds were
highly popular and dominated in the show scene. Standardbreds were
exclusive inhabitants of trotting track barns. Morgans had excelled as road
horses, but this job had fallen prey to the automobile.
Morgan Horses of this era had become thick and dumpy, and the hardy
little animals needed something to regain their popularity.
Back in Illinois, Grace Woods' father had seen the writing on the wall
and experimented by crossing his typy pure-bred Morgan mares with
Saddlebred stallions which were in abundance in the area. Some of these
horses were in the Woods show string that went east and they were
Owen Moon, Jr., a Morgan fancier who owned beautiful Upwey Farm, South
Woodstock, Vt., saw the Woods' horses and was impressed. He purchased
several including Bass' King Peavine in the Spring of 1937.
The Morgan Horse Registry at the time had a Rule II, which allowed a
horse of proven Morgan ancestory to be registered, although not necessarily
being from registered Morgan stock.
King Peavine traced to the main stalwarts of the American Saddle Horse
breed who carried a preponderance of Morgan blood. They were Peavine 85,
Indian Chief, and Cabell's Lexington. Therefore, Moon had him registered as
And so it was that Bass' King Peavine became Upwey King Peavine, and
John C. Woods passed from the picture.
Owen Moon, Jr., must also have straightened out any difficulties,
financial or otherwise, with Mrs. Angie Bass and Noble Hite. In November,
1939, using Noble Hite's original registry application, the horse was
approved by the American Saddle Horse Breeders Association as Upwey King
Peavine 17367, making him a double registered stallion.
Upwey Farm showed him in five-gaited and fine harness classes in 1937
and 1938, but in 1939, he was shown as a Morgan.
At Upwey Farm, he was bred to Morgan mares, Saddlebreds, part Arabs,
and even a Suffolk draft mare. His get inherited King Peavine's bright
coloring and good looks, but he was not considered a remarkable sire. That
is not until 1942.
Following a program instituted by the U. S. Army and U. S. Department
of Agriculture, four mares from the U.S.D.A. Morgan Farm, Middlebury, Vt.,
were sent to the court of Upwey King Peavine, in the spring of 1938.
All of the mares, fine Morgans, got in foal, and one mare, Audrey, bred
along old and upstanding Morgan lines (Bennington and Ethan Allen) by Frank
Orcutt, produced a handsome bay colt, named Jefferson.
At the National Morgan Show of 1942, Jefferson and his half sister,
Joyce, were first and second in the three-year-old class. Together with
their sire King Peavine, they won the get-of-sire class, beating the well
known Morgans, Goldfield and Mansfield.
In conjunction with the show, the first consignment sale in the history
of the Morgan breed was held, and it was topped by Jefferson, going to the
owner of his sire, Owen Moon of Upwey Farm.
Jefferson was rechristened Upwey King Benn and went to be a great
Morgan show horse as well as progenitor of the breed. His son, Upwey Ben
Don became the "Wing Commander" of the Morgan world, and today a majority
of the best Morgans are descendants of Bass' King Peavine, through his
grandson, Upwey Ben Don.
Strange are the ways the world turns. Tom Bass was one of the greatest
horsemen that ever lived, perhaps the greatest. He could teach a horse to
canter backwards, and undoubtedly was a keen observer and student of
Yet finances and circumstances dictated that he could never be a great
contributor to the breed he loved so well, as a great breeder of American
So it is even more ironic that his last horse, because he was
practically "stolen" did not go on to become perhaps a mediocre sire of his
own kind, but was a major contributor back to the blood from whence he
came, the Morgan, whose contributions to development of the American Saddle
Horse are incalculable.
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