(by Scott Hagan)
In the early 1960s, when my father, Dr. John Hagan, was finishing his internship at the University of Kentucky Medical School, as he was walking past a bulletin board one day, he saw a sign that read, “small town needs doctor.” He took the bulletin, visited North Middletown, Kentucky (population 432) and decided to set up his practice there. A few years after we moved to North Middletown (we being my older brother, Terry, my younger brother, Hart, my father and my mother, Sara), my father met Buford Hall, an African-American resident of North Middletown who had been in the American Saddlebred horse business his whole life. My father and mother decided that they wanted their sons to learn responsibility and strong work ethic and chose breeding, raising, training and selling American Saddlebreds as the way to do that. They hired Mr. Hall who taught us how to ride, gait and show American Saddlebred horses.
Many people erroneously believe that Shelbyville, Kentucky is the birthplace of the American Saddlebred. The real birthplace is the small town of North Middletown where A. G. “Allie” Jones and his sons, Joe Jones and Charlton Jones, raised the great stallions Bourbon King (WGC) and CHKing’s Genius (WC). North Middletown fostered the greatest development and advancement of the breed, and no other city has contributed to any one breed as significantly as North Middletown has to the American Saddlebred. The immortal Bourbon King (WGC) still holds the record as the only three-year-old to win the Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship, a feat he accomplished in 1903 with owner/rider Allie Jones. The most lionized horse of his day, Bourbon King (WGC) gained even greater fame as a breeding stallion. One of his sons was the prepotent Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion Edna May’s King (WGC, WC, RWC) who sired a dynasty of his own through his breeding sons CHAnacacho Shamrock (RWC) and Anacacho Denmark. Another of note by Bourbon King (WGC) was multiple Five-Gaited World’s Champion CHKing’s Genius (WC), sire of Fine Harness World’s Grand Champion Bourbon Genius (WGC, WC, RWGC) and Hall of Fame broodmare Flirtation Walk (BHF), among so many others.
My horse show “career” began in the early 1960s when Mr. Hall bought me a mixed breed Hackney pony at October Court Day in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky for $135. My first show pony, Monday Swing, was brought to our little farm that had a three bent tobacco barn that we had converted into six stalls. Mr. Hall taught me how to ride and show Monday Swing as well as many subsequent horses. I showed Monday as a three-gaited pony for a few years.
When I was six-years-old, my father and Mr. Hall went to the Gamble family’s Happy Valley Farm in Danville and bought four two-year-olds, all by Oman’s Marine Commander, and Mr. Hall taught Terry and me how to break and gait them. They were mediocre quality horses but we learned a lot.
During that time, the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show became our annual family vacation. We stayed in Louisville and went to the World’s Championship Horse Show every night. My first year was 1965 so I got to see the fabulous CHMy-My (WGC, WC) and trainer/rider Frank Bradshaw win the last four of her six Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championships. I have seen every five-gaited, three-gaited and fine harness world’s grand champion since then. Some of my first memories are seeing CHMy-My (WGC, WC) and The Contender (CHContract’s Beau Le Rose (WC, RWGC)) slug it out in the Five-Gaited Stake at Lexington Junior League and Frank’s brother, Garland Bradshaw, hitting the ring on the great Three-Gaited mare CHForest Song (WGC, WC, RWC).
In the 1970s, my parents started the North Middletown Horse Show with the help of Bill Munford who was then the Manager of the World’s Championship Horse Show and a real icon in the Saddlebred business.
Terry and I showed our horses under the name The Village Stable on the Central Kentucky Horse Show Circuit. The shows on the Circuit we enjoyed the most were Owingsville, Flemingsburg, North Middletown, Paris and Germantown, though we attended plenty more. People we showed with on the Central Kentucky Horse Show Circuit included Joe and Deedee Allen of Paris, Tom and Judy Byron of Mt. Sterling and Laura and Mindy Cook of Cynthiana, among many others.
When I was in my early teens, we bought a two-year-old filly that we subsequently renamed Wing Reverie. This filly was at Garland Bradshaw’s farm and was sired by six-time Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion CHWing Commander (WGC, WC, RWGC). She was distinctive in that her dam was uber Hall of Fame broodmare Reverie’s Desdemona (BHF) and “Reverie” was her last foal, making her a half-sister to Fine Harness World’s Grand Champion CHKate Shriver (BHF) (WGC, WCC, RWC), WGC sire RWC Oman’s Desdemona Denmark, WC sire Ridgefields Denmark, WC sire Golden Thunderbolt, RWC sire and Broodmare Hall of Fame sire Clarma, Oman’s Magic Star (RWC), Reverie’s Camelia (dam of CHAletha Stonewall (RWC)), et al. We had agreed to pay $2,000 for “Reverie” but a few days after we got her home, she showed extreme lameness. We believed she had foundered so the seller reduced her price to $750. Our farrier at the time was Bud Claxton and he determined that “Reverie” had not foundered but had severely contracted heels. He remedied this and the mare never took another unsound step. She was a truly exquisite mare and many of the top trainers of the era, including Jim B. Robertson, Jim Aikman and Dave Clark tried to buy her many times. Terry broke, gaited and showed this mare and turned her over to me when he went to college. I won the Amateur Five-Gaited High Point Championship on the Central Kentucky Circuit with this mare in 1972. In my first year of law school, “Reverie” colicked and died with her head in my mother’s lap in the hallway of our barn. My mother had vowed not to move off the farm and join her sons in Louisville until the last horse died. “Reverie” was that horse. She produced just three foals, including WC sire and stakes winner Mahogany Wing, but the best, Wing Allure (a filly by Supreme Spirit), was struck and killed by lightning before she produced foals.
I had wonderful opportunities to work for many great horsemen from my teenage years through when I finished my first year of law school. I worked for Charlton Jones, the owner of the historic Saddlebred farm in North Middletown where his father, Allie, raised and trained CHKing’s Genius (WC) and where Bourbon King (WGC) stood at stud and was buried. I also worked for Earl Curtis and Rae Deane Stone. Rae Deane became a close friend and exposed me to top level horses and taught me the highest level of care of Saddlebreds. Rae Deane expected every horse to come out of the stall every day groomed as if it were ready to enter the ring. The summers before and after my first year of law school, I also had the opportunity to work with thoroughbreds for Arthur Hancock at Stone Farm. The first summer, Stone Farm’s Gato del Sol won the Kentucky Derby and Arthur assigned me to groom the select yearlings entered in the Keeneland July Select sale. He thought that my knowledge of grooming Saddlebreds would be a compliment to these horses. That same summer, we sold the first filly ever to sell for $1,000,000.
When my daughter Sara turned five-years-old, she began taking riding lessons from Jo Cornell. In 1996, at the age of nine, Sara won the Three-Gaited Pony World’s Championship on S.S. Catch My Act (WCC, WC) under the guidance of George Knight. Sara stayed in the horse business for about seven years and during that time, I bought a broodmare or two. When Sara decided no longer to continue in the Saddlebred business, I began expanding my breeding program and Hagan Saddlebreds has grown to what it is today.
The most fortuitous broodmare purchases I made were the full sisters A Daydream Believer (BHF) (WC) and I Am The Dream (BHF) (RWC). Both mares are by WGC sire Attaches’ Born Believer and out of Dream A Dream (BHF) by Sultan’s Spartan (WC). Their third dam is Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion CHDream Waltz (BHF) (WGC, WC, RWCC, RWC), full sister to CHWing Commander (WGC, WC, RWGC). They are full siblings to CHVegas Dreams (WC) and half sisters to Man What A Dream (BHF) (dam of Exclamation Mark! (WC), Riverdreams’ Spitfire (WC, RWC), Riverdreams’ Remarcable (WC)) and Keep Dreaming (RWC). Interestingly, in the fifth and sixth generations of the dam side of their pedigrees, there are multiple crosses to CHKing’s Genius (WC) and his sire Bourbon King (WGC) making my two best mares line bred through their dam line to the two most important stallions to come from North Middletown where it all started for me. I had seen the pair develop at their breeder George Knight’s Stable and purchased both as soon as I could after they entered the broodmare ranks. These mares, A Daydream Believer (BHF) (WC, RWC), deceased, and I Am The Dream (BHF) (RWC), a pensioner, are the cornerstones of my breeding program and their daughters are continuing the legacy of being great producers.
A Daydream Believer (BHF) (WC) produced:
- CHCastledream (WGC, WCC, WC, RWGC, RWCC, RWC) by Castle Bravo (WC, RWC)
- Dream Castle (RWC) by Castle Bravo (WC, RWC)
- CHHS Dignitary (WCC, WC, RWCC, RWC) by Sir William Robert (WC, RWC)
- HS A Faithful Lady by Sir William Robert (WC, RWC) (dam of WC Tua)
- CHHS First Day (RWC) by Sir William Robert (WC, RWC)
- HS Daydream’s Dream Girl by Sir William Robert (WC, RWC) (dam of HS Color My World (RWC) and HS Dream Girl’s Darling Doris (RWC))
- HS Daydream’s Celebrity (WC, RWCC, RWC) by Sir William Robert (WC, RWC)
- HS Daydream’s Heads Up (WGC, WC, RWGC, RWC) by Undulata’s Nutcracker
- HS Daydream’s Heiress by Mountainview’s Heir To Fortune (WC) (dam of HS Brilliant Heiress (WCC, WC))
- HS Daydream’s Fashionista (WC) by Undulata’s Nutcracker
- HS Daydream’s Perfect Gentleman (RWC) by My Royale Charm (RWC)
- HS Daydream’s Masterpiece by Undulata’s Nutcracker (a blind full brother to HS Daydream’s Heads Up (WGC, WC, RWGC, RWC) that is now proving himself as a sire)
- HS Castle Vision (RWC sire) by Castle Bravo (WC, RWC)
- HS Daydream’s Dignity by Sir William Robert (WC, RWC)
- A Pleasant Surprize by Prize Contender (WC, RWGC) (dam of Just Surprize Me (WC))
I Am The Dream (BHF) (RWC) produced:
- CHHS Baby Steps (WCC, WC, RWC) by Sir William Robert (WC, RWC)
- HS Ima Cool Girl by Undulata’s Nutcracker (dam of HS As Lovely As Ever (WC, RWC))
- HS I’m A Dreamer (WCC, WC, RWC) by Undulata’s Nutcracker
- HS I’m Hot Wired (WC, RWCC, RWC) by Undulata’s Nutcracker
- HS Dream Date by Sir William Robert (WC, RWC) (dam of Going Steady (WC, RWC))
- HS I’m A Big Deal (RWC) by Undulata’s Nutcracker
- HS I’m Dreaming The Blues (RWC) by Callaway’s Bluesman (WC, RWC)
- HS Honor Thy Mother
Hagan Saddlebreds’ broodmare band fluctuates between 15 and 20 mares. All of the broodmares are kept either in Carlisle, Kentucky at Fred Sarver’s Cornerstone or in Columbia, Missouri with Dr. Rob Foss at his Equine Medical Services. We extensively employ embryo and oocyte reproduction techniques. Hagan Saddlebreds raises 15-32 foals every year.