Ed Teater - Part of a Dynasty

By Jane E. Simmons and Charles Cook
Saddle and Bridle Magazine Equine Articles

Crane logo Executive and World Champion Trainer Ed Teater! Written for Saddle & Bridle magazine by Jane Simmons & Charlie Cook © copyrighted horse article.
TSE/Tattersalls' current president and owner, Ed Teater, at age 11, won his "first World's Championship in the Five-Gaited Pony Stake at the Kentucky State Fair in 1944" riding the "spotted 14.2-hands-high Step'N Fetchit" his father "had purchased for $325." The young Teater attended his "first Tattersalls sale," he told Charles Cook, when the decision was made to sell the pony. "I rode the pony as hard as I could through the auction" to a $1,000 winning bid - the "exact amount set as a goal by my father ... after talking to George Swinebroad, the auctioneer, before the sale." When the gavel came down on the bid, and "I heard the amount, I broke out laughing, and so did Mr. Swinebroad."

Teater Saddlebred Enterprises, Inc., was incorporated in 1986. The corporation, set up by Ed Teater and his now deceased brother Louis Teater, was specifically created "to manage the three Tattersalls Saddlebred auctions each year," Ed said. After 20 years, he continues to do this, with the assistance of his wife Suzanne.

"We took over Tattersalls' annual Saddlebred sales," Ed told Charles and me, "to help keep it going. I felt Mr. Van Lennep, one of the major stockholders, was a very good friend who had always treated me nice. At first, when he approached me, I wasn't interested in taking over the sales. Then, I talked it over with my brother Lou and his wife Mary Ann, and my wife Suzie, and we decided it might be good to lease the facility and go in business for ourselves." Ed noted: "very soon after we took over the sales, Freddie Van Lennep died of cancer."

We revamped the sales' paperwork and the write-ups about the horses. We wanted to run straightforward sales, which we felt were very much needed by the horse business. We've had some pretty exciting and interesting sales."

Tattersalls "is the nation's oldest light horse auction marketplace," according to its Web site. When the well-known "London and Newmarket sales company wanted to expand its operations to North America in 1892," it selected the property adjacent to Lexington's Red Mile Trotting Track. The racecourse facility "was established earlier in 1875." Through the decades of the early 1900s, under a succession of owners, it provided horses for racing, carriage driving, and war use. During World War I, Tattersalls was a major equine buying site for the French, British, and American military.

In 1933, the highest price believed to have ever been paid up to that date for an American Saddlebred Horse was gotten at Tattersalls when "famous horseman Bob Moreland" sold stallion American Born for $12,000. Noted horse stables through the years have "used Tattersalls for their production sales and dispersal sales," including: "Maryland Farm, Spindletop, Leatherwood, Ridgefield Farm, Reverie Knoll Farms, Brynfan Tyddyn Stables, and in 1975 Dodge Stables," the Web site said.

Frederick L. Van Lennep, who owned Castleton Farm and the famous Dodge Stables located there, "purchased Tattersalls in 1953," along with several other Lexington horsemen. "He was the controlling stockholder," Ed said. "They owned it until 2000 when five Standardbred breeders bought the Red Mile and Tattersalls facilities." According to its tattersallsWeb site, the group is conducting "a major renovation, that some call the Red Mile Renaissance."

Slim, 6-foot, brown-eyed Ed Teater, a member of the Saddlebred Horse dynasty known as "The Teaters," in his quiet and gentle manner, visited about his life with Charles and me in his home this past January.

Ed is the son of Earl Teater, a nephew of horsemen William Lloyd Teater and John Emmet (Jay) Teater, and the father of two sons, one following in the family tradition.

In 1948, "the owners of Dodge Stables moved their entire show horse operation from Rochester, Mich., to the newly remodeled Dodge Stables show horse barn at Castleton Farm. Dad had been the trainer at the stables' Michigan location for three years before the move south," where "he continued his trainer's job" at the relocated Dodge Stables. "Dad didn't like Michigan and could hardly wait for the barn in Kentucky to be ready. Dad worked for Dodge Stables for 30 years."

. Both of Ed's brothers eventually worked in the horse business also : Pete, born in 1926, was a Saddle Horse trainer for 20 years, before going into theThoroughbred world. Lou, born in 1930, managed his father Earl's Saddlebred breeding farm on Tates Creek Pike for many years; he died in 1994.

Teenager Ed "worked at Tattersalls forits secretary-treasurer, F.H. Eddy, one of the most popular executives in the horse world. I was 15 years old and was paid $25 a day to be a flunky, doing odd jobs wherever needed. Mostly I was a runner for Mr. Eddy, who ran a tight ship from his office."

Also "working for Mr. Eddy was a colorful character named Jack Bowman. He was from New Orleans. He always wore a bow tie and a trench coat. He carried bootleg whisky in a pocket of this big coat. He was a loan shark on the side, and had five or six wives. He drove a black Cadillac. He knew everything happening in the place. Mr. Eddy could learn from Jack every horse deal being made on the side." Mr. Eddy "had me work the tack sales for all the Saddlebred sales, and the concession stand for all the Black Angus sales, for four years. I arrived at the refreshment stand by 6:00 a.m. to get the ice and the drinks ready - Coke, orange pop, RC, coffee - prepare the hot dogs, and display the candy bars. I put everything away at 6:00 p.m. and locked up. For that work, I normallymade $125 a day in profit," Ed said of his 12-hour workdays. "When I was 19 years old, I was offered the concession business. But, I was not 21 years old, so Mr. Eddy had to tell them I couldn't do it."

Ed "finished high school at Lafayette, graduating in the spring of 1952. I entered the University of Kentucky that fall, and after school was out, in the spring of 1953, I was drafted. I served during the Korean Conflict from 1953-1955." The U.S. Army "sent me to Fort Knox for my three-month basic training. Then I was sent to the Military Police Training Center in Augusta, Ga. I never did get shipped to Korea because the 5th Army assigned me to work at the stockade at Camp Chaffee in Ft. Smith, Ark., where I served out my military time." Ed received his Honorable Discharge in 1955.

Returned to civilian life, Ed worked as assistant trainer to his father at Dodge Stables from 1955 to 1966. Also in 1955, Ed married his high school sweetheart Martha Clark. She "did not ride herself but enjoyed attending the horse shows." They "had three children. Ed said, "during those 12 years, Frances Dodge Van Lennep for the first five or six years did not have much to say to me. She was very shy. My mom said I should just keep speaking to her. I did, and she eventually acknowledged me with a few words. When I accepted the job with Rock Creek, I went to Mrs. Van Lennep to tell her I was leaving. She was married to Fred Van Lennep, the son of a well-known Philadelphia doctor. Well, I went to her office, where she worked from 9:00 - 5:00 p.m. After I told Mrs. Van Lennep that I came to say good-bye, she said: 'I hate to see you leave. We've just gotten to know each other.'"

In 1966, 33-year-old Ed Teater began his job at Rock Creek Riding Club, where he worked through 1971. The Club "took memberships from the public for eight lessons. After that, a rider had to join the Club for the nominal amount of $200 a year. To board a horse for a month cost $70 if a pleasure horse, and if a horse was there for training, the fee was $135 a month," Ed told Charles and me. At Rock Creek, Ed managed three barns: "the original barn had approximately 40 stalls, as it still does today," the second barn had 10 stalls, and the third barn or low barn had some 30 head of pleasure horses. Of the full-time horses, I trained about 30 show horses. When I arrived in 1966, it had only three show horses in training. While there, the highest number of horses I had was 65 head. My staff consisted of a couple of second trainers, and from eight to 10 grooms...or," he said with a smile, "as many as I could hire."

During this time, Ed managed the careers of notable winners, including: Sea Of Secrets, the gelding he rode to the Three-Gaited World's Grand Championship in 1971; Local Talent; Sparkling Choice; Aletha Stonewall; Clover Mist; Bandelero; Night Flight; and Miss Sensation." When "I left Rock Creek in 1971, my successor was Charlie Smith." On January 1, 1972, Ed "became manager and trainer at Dodge Stables. The owners hired me to handle 30 show horses in training." Ed "directed Frances and Fred's daughter Rikki Van Lennep Caldwell's riding Lover's Sensation to three World's Championships at the Kentucky State Fair." More victories for the pair came "at other major shows, including Devon and New York and Lexington." This champion horse's grave is on the grounds of Castleton Farm.

In 1972, Ed's famous horseman father Earl Teater died at age 67 on May 17 of cancer. Ed's mother Carrie passed on January 23, 1996, at the age of 92. In October 1972, Ed married Suzie Traylor of Evansville, Ind. Ryan was born in December 1982.

In 1973, gelding Perfect Timing, developed and shown by Ed, "was the Two-Year-Old Five-Gaited World's Champion." Other top winning horses at his hands, included: First Captain, Meadow Lover, Popular Time, Success Story, Skyjacker, and Baron's Command."

Dodge Stables "in July 1975 held its Dispersal Sale at Tattersalls." Ed came up with the idea to "list the producing records of the first and second dams of each horse sold. This was a first for American Saddlebred Horses." People noted Ed's marketing idea. The 1973-75 Who's Who in Horsedom said that sale "produced one of the most successful sales in history" to date: "86 head of horses grossing $502,750."

From 1976 to 1985, Ed and Suzie lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota's suburb of Wayzata, where he "was manager and trainer of North Ridge Farm, a division of S.J. Groves & Sons Company. I had 45 horses in training, and sometimes 65 head in the 68-stall heated training barn. The indoor arena also was heated." North Ridge Farm "was one of the largest breeding operations in the country with 130 mares and five stallions. It had a 60-stall heated broodmare barn. If the early foals had been outside, their chances of survival in Minnesota's deep winter snow would have been much slimmer. And this way too, we could find them." With "an average of 15 horses going to the shows, we attended about 12 shows a year, including: Madison Square Garden in New York City, Oklahoma City, the American Royal in Kansas City, Mo., the Lexington Junior League, the Midwest Charity show in Springfield, Ill., and the State Fairs in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Kentucky."

In 1977, Ed "won the Five-Gaited World's Grand Championship Stake with Belle Elegant, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Groves." In Minnesota, Ed also "trained World Champions Sultan's Supremacy, Denmark Spitfire, Too Much, Whiplash, Dun Haven Daydream, Wing Flame, Northern Mystic, Seymour's Southern Aire," and many more.

It was back to Kentucky in 1986, where Ed opened his own Teater Stables "on 30 acres in Nicholasville, and served as its manager and trainer until 2001." From this barn, he directed the careers of "Sue Elegant, Tijuana Topaz, Renowned, and Principal." As of 1986, Lexington-born Ed Teater was "back to stay" in his family's native state.

Ed's father and mother came from Crab Orchid, south of Lexington. After Ed's parents "married in September 1925, they moved to Chicago, Ill.," where Earl "trained at the Chicago Stock Yards," and their first son Pete was born. "The next job was working for W. D. Alexander in Bloomington, Ill. They returned to Kentucky in 1932. I was born on July 1, 1933, while dad was working for Lexington horseman R.E. "Bob" Moreland. Then, dad worked in Red Bank, N.J., before moving to a job in New York." Red Bank, south of New York City, is near the Monmouth Park Race Track. From 1940 to 1942, "dad worked for Mrs. Reed A. Albee of Larchmont, N.Y.," on Long Island Sound.

"I was the best dressed boy around for those three years because my mom accepted Mrs. Albee's offer of her son's clothes. Some were never worn. I wore knickers with matching jacket, cap and topcoat. We would ride into New York City with her in the chauffeured limousine. Her son, who was two years older than me, became a playwright. Edward Albee wrote Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe," among others. "The area had the most wealthy school you've ever seen."

In 1943, "when dad opened a public stable in Harrodsburg, Ky., I went into the public school, which was a kind of culture shock. I remember the floor squeaked. Within a year or so, dad took a job at Maryland Farm, working for Mr. and Mrs. Truman Ward in Brentwood, Tenn., where we stayed for several years." From there, the Earl Teater family "moved to Michigan, when dad became the Saddle Horse trainer at Dodge Stables. They also had Hackneys and Shetlands." In three years, the Earl Teater family "moved back to Kentucky in 1948 to the newly-remodeled Dodge Stables show horse barn at Castleton Farm" in Lexington. That launched the Teater legend.

Ed's dad won the Five-Gaited World's Grand Championship with Wing Commander in 1948 and five times in a row thereafter. Before that, Earl had won that stake with Belle Le Rose in 1934, A Sensation in 1940 and 1941, and Oakhill Chief in 1943. After Wing Commander's six history-making wins, Ed's dad won the same stake with Dream Waltz in 1956.

Charles asked Ed what traits he had learned from his father. Ed Teater answered: "I learned patience and how to give a horse time to develop. You need to let a horse do what he is capable of doing and no more." He gave an analogy of having tiers of horses, "and you want your horse to be the best in his tier."

During 1986, when Ed and Suzie arrived in Kentucky and purchased their farm on Parks Lane in Jessamine County, they rebuilt the farmhouse and created their sales corporation. He has been awarded recognition and honors from his horsemen peers, including: In 1988, Ed Teater was honored by the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) with its C.J. Cronan Sportsmanship Award. In 1997, the Kentucky State Fair's World's Grand Championship Horse Show inducted Ed Teater into its Hall of Fame. He served "on the show's Advisory Committee" working to make the event even bigger and better. Ed also "served on the Board of Directors of the ASHA from 1968 through 1987, and again from 1989 through 1997. I was ASHA Vice President from 1992 through 1997. I also have served on various committees, including ASHA's Saddlebred Rules Committee." On January 6, 2001, Ed Teater was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the United Professional Horsemen's Association (UPHA) . Ed, was the third Teater to join this prestigious group" following "his father Earl and his uncle Lloyd."

Suzie Teater, since their corporation's inception 20 years ago, has served as its secretary-treasurer. She slipped into the paperwork job "just naturally" as "I've always enjoyed doing with Ed whatever he's doing and I've always tried to help him." Now that she helps to run the famous sales, Suzie finds she uses her "Masters of Library Science training from the University of Kentucky." It was at a young age like Ed, she too had her "first experience with Tattersalls. I was a 4-H consignor."

Currently Edward M. Teater, his wife and family, continue the legacy of the Saddlebred Horse industry's Teater family dynasty.

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