Ted Macklin - Part Two in the life of a Trainer

By Jane Simmons
Saddle and Bridle Magazine Equine Articles

Crane logo Saddlebred trainer Ted Macklin. Written for Saddle & Bridle magazine by Jane Simmons.
© copyrighted horse article.
Ted Macklin accepted "an offer in the fall of 1939 to go to work for well known horseman B.B. Tucker at his stables in Pomona, California," at the famous Carnation Barn located north of Los Angeles, his daughter Cynthia said. Mr. Macklin said: "I had been working with the horses of the Donald Rheems family for about a year before they decided to sell their horses and consign them to Mr. Tucker to sell." Since 20-year-old Ted was preparing to leave for his new job there anyway, he "agreed to ride in the boxcar to care for the horses on their rail trip" to Pomona. "Tucker had a lot of people working for him," Mr. Macklin said. "Lee Butler was riding the gaited and walk-trot horses. Gene Able was starting colts along with Richard Smith. A man from Scotland by the name of Jim MacClure was working most of the harness horses and the Hackney ponies. In the other barn, another man handled the hunter and jumper string. Each groom took care of six head of horses and was responsible for the feeding and caring of the horses in his string. There were many grooms."

The "old Carnation Barn had been built by E.A. Stewart who owned the Carnation Dairy Farms. The barn was designed and managed by John Hook before it became part of the Pomona Fairgrounds," Mr. Macklin said. Cynthia noted she's been told: "the original barn was torn down and a newer facility built on the site and is the one called the Carnation Barn" today. "By the time my dad went to work at the Carnation Barn, it was part of the Fairgrounds. Mr. Tucker leased the 60-stall barn. Another barn he leased on the grounds had a hundred stalls. There was a ring with bleachers but the entire Fairgrounds was available to them for working horses," Cynthia said.

The original barn "was T shaped, had about a 24-foot wide aisle, and was 272 feet long. It had an office, a show room full of horse drawn vehicles, the work tack room, the carriage room, the show tack room, and a room for a night watchman," Mr. Macklin pointed out. "At the far end of the Carnation barn, where the T crossed the main aisle, there was a second aisle which was 60 feet by 30 feet. The main show string was kept in that barn. Hay barns were separate buildings," he said.

One day, Mr. Tucker "came to him with a proposition: move to the Anacacho horses' section of the same barn to care for and jog that top string of show horses. Mr. Tucker knew of my dad's goal of becoming a professional trainer and Dad would still work under but would be on the Anacacho Ranch payroll out of Texas, where the breeding stock was kept." After thinking it over, "my dad felt Mr. Tucker was right. He accepted the offer."

Mr. Macklin said he "worked with Lee Butler and traveled the 1940 show circuit with the Anacacho horses. Owner R.W. Morrison's plan was to wage a hard campaign to promote the get of sire Edna May's King: Anacacho Will Do, Anacacho Diamond, Anacacho Breeze, Anacacho Nan High that was later renamed Nawbeaks Highland King, and Anacacho Shamrock." When "my dad first started working on Anacacho Shamrock, he didn't really like the horse. Though he had beautiful conformation and great bone, his eye was dull, as was his coat. He did not use his hocks well. However, Shamrock, Dad quickly realized, was one 'whale of a horse.' I drove him about three and a half miles a day, four days a week, only instead of checking him up high like they had been doing, I left him unchecked. That allowed him to roll over, round up his back and develop strength in his hocks. It worked. His hocks really improved. 1940 was his best year. As Dad said: 'He was a great personality and I came to really like him and I believe he got to like and trust me.'" Anacacho Shamrock "was sold to the Dodge Stables before the Anacacho Ranch held its dispersal sale in the spring of 1941.

Truckloads of Morrison colts and unbroke horses were shipped to California to be readied to ride through the sale," Cynthia said. Following the sale, "Revel English asked Dad to work for him. Many in his Chino, California, stable were colts by Cameo Kirby, with Ensign Kirby being one of them. That horse made a big impression on my father. Dad developed Blake Kirby into a top three gaited show contender and won his first blue ribbon riding him. Dad wasn't with Mr. English very long." A job offer came to Ted to return to the Carnation Barn, six miles away, from "Lee Butler and former Anacacho Ranch Manager and Trainer George Winfrey, who had formed a new operation. They needed a man at home to work the horses while they both went to shows, which were a source of good money in those days," Cynthia said. "Dad worked for them most of the summer until another young trainer by the name of Harry Smith asked about a job. He had a wife and a small child and really needed the work. Dad was single and had been told by Roy and Betty Robinson to call them if he ever wanted a job. So he made arrangements to move, and have Harry take his place with Butler and Winfrey."

The Robinsons "had Maple Stables in Woodland, a town near Sacramento where Dad's parents lived, so everyone was pleased with Dad's move in the fall of 1941.While there, Dad got to develop some nice horses, including Maple Satin by San Juan. Dad's favorite was a chestnut mare, Maple Maiden (later renamed Marmonte) by Roy's stud, Bourbon My King, by Bourbon King and out of his best mare, Princess Lenore by Edna May's King. Princess Lenore was also the dam of Reverie's Bourbon Princess that produced 17 foals, including Denmark's Bourbon Genius, Drum Beater, Gregnon's Truly Fair, and Fluffy McDuffy," Cynthia said.

"Dad really enjoyed working for the Robinsons and he thought Roy was probably the best horse trainer he ever knew. With the start of World War II, though, my dad enlisted in the Army." After basic training, "my dad was sent to Officers Candidate School and assigned to the 78th Division. At one point, 1st Lieutenant Macklin was placed in charge of about 30 men assigned to learn how to pack mules for use in Italy. His records said he was a horseman but I guess the Army figured that was close enough." When "my dad got some leave time, he took the train from the East Coast to Sacramento to see his parents. My Mom was taking the train" from her parents' home on their dairy farm in Wisconsin "to California to visit a cousin and take a job with the military." Ted and Joyce "met on the train and it was love at first sight. A week later, they were engaged. Thank goodness, Mom didn't listen to her great aunt who warned her not to talk to any soldiers because one just couldn't trust those young men away from home."

Joyce told me that when she learned she "could transfer to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.," just a short distance from her husband-to-be "back at his base in Virginia," she took it. In August 1944, Joyce and Ted Macklin were married in the nation's capital. "Dad was told his Division was staying in America to train troops. But one month after his wedding," Lieutenant Macklin's 78th Division "was sent to the European Theater. He spent most of his 13-month tour of duty in Germany. He was wounded twice but felt lucky to make it back home."

After "Dad came home at the end of World War II, my folks moved to California where Dad took a job training horses for Harvey Griffen. The Broad Breasted Bronze turkey that graces our holiday tables today was developed by Mr. Griffen whose company shipped hundreds of turkey eggs to farmers all over the country."

In 1946, "Mom and Dad wanted to move back to the Midwest and took a trip that fall to visit Mom's parents in Wisconsin by way of the American Royal show in Kansas City. Dad ran into B.B. Tucker who asked him to work for him again. Mr. Tucker was leasing the Lee Brothers barn in Mexico, Missouri, which most people today know as the Art Simmons barn. My Dad accepted." The Macklins moved to Mexico. Cynthia was "born there in March of 1947, while Dad was still working for Mr. Tucker. Soon after, Bill Cunningham bought the barn and Dad ended up working horses for him. "Uncle Bill," as I came to call him, had horses both at the Audrain County Fairgrounds and in the big barn on the boulevard."

The Cunningham horse "Dad remembers best was a young mare brought in from the Reverie Knoll Farm. She had been started and even ridden a few times but Mr. Cunningham thought she would go down in the back and told Dad to probably just make a pleasure horse out of her. Dad thought she would be OK if handled carefully. He drove her a lot rolled over and when he did start riding her, he made the sessions short. He gaited her but stayed off her back as much as possible. She developed strength, and eventually Dad showed her four times for four blues." Deciding to downsize, "'Uncle Bill' kept the barn at the Fairgrounds and put the big barn up for sale. Art Simmons bought the barn and the mare, Reverie's Easter Orchid by Arletha's Easter Cloud and out of Black Orchid by Chief of Longview. Years later, when Dad saw her as a broodmare, he was pleased to see her back was perfect. Other horses he trained included Derry Jane, Emerald Future, Colonel Sport, Kalarama Blossom, and Stonewall's First Lady."

The Macklins lived a block from Simmons Stables and my home, I learned during our interviews in February, until they left Mexico in 1951. "Something went wrong with my dad's back and unlike the Reverie mare, he was unable to work it to health. Doctors told him it probably was from his war injuries and he would have to quit riding. My dad moved us back to California. By then, my brother Tod had been born. He now does horse photography," Cynthia said.

For the next five years, "my Dad worked as Manager and Vice President for one of his father's companies; it manufactured mining equipment. Following an osteopath's treatment for a crick in his neck, Dad immediately stopped having back pain for the first time in five years. It hadn't been from his war injuries after all. Feeling OK again, Dad went back to the horse game."

Two more sons, Kim and Scott, "were born by the time my dad moved us to Collierville, Tennessee, in 1956 where he took a job as a second trainer with Edward "Eddie" Barham and Tom Walsh. While there, Dad used his driving method to help improve the hocks on a grand stallion, Denmark's Bourbon Genius." Cynthia said "one day, Mr. Cunningham called and told my dad to call Earl eater, who was looking for a Head Trainer on behalf of his good friend, J.H. "Bud" McIntyre." Her dad made that call.

"We moved in 1957 to Bridlespur Farm located hear Keswick, Virginia. My youngest sibling and only sister, Wendy was born there. However, my four-year old brother, Kimmy, who had been born with a bad heart, died there during an operation to try to fix things."

Cynthia's most memorable horse story about her dad's work in Virginia involved a bay gaited mare. "She was actually a pretty good mare but she had started breaking all the time in the turns and when Dad arrived they were actually out in the ring with whips trying to stop that behavior. Dad watched and saw the problem. She was hitting her knees, so of course the poor thing would break. Once he got her reset with some simplified shoeing, she no longer broke but she was sour." Quite by accident, "Dad hit on the real turning point for that mare. He felt fairly frustrated that nothing seemed to make her happy when she was worked. One day while driving her, he headed her toward a registered herd of black Angus cows kept by the McIntyres. The mare pricked up her ears, so Dad kept driving her toward them. Since the cows were tame and didn't run, he picked out one and had the mare work from side to side to cut it out of the herd. In a heartbeat, she knew what to do and could she ever lock onto a cow. Often, he would reward her by letting her cut cows. She went back to being quite a good gaited mare."

Working in Keswick, Virginia, was the only time Ted Macklin trained horses east of the Mississippi River. While there, he "showed such winners as Kissin' Cousin, Fair Cloud, Hallelujah Knight and Bridlespur's Fair Lady." From Virginia, the Macklins moved to west Texas. He started his job in Amarillo in 1959. "Earl Teater had contacted Dad about going to work for Mrs. A.R. Anderson" of Sunset Stables. "She had been a customer of Mr. Teater's and had a number of colts by top sires out of two very well-bred mares. The widow was in desperate need of a trainer. After Dad's previous experiences with horses from the bloodlines she had, he was very excited by the prospect of working her stock." Cynthia said: "My Dad had a ball working those horses. Sunset Commander by Wing Commander and out of Anacacho Del Oro by Edna May's King was probably the most famous, but all the horses possessed extreme athleticism. The gaited horses were racking, trotting powerhouses with speed and form. They were bred to perform." There was "something different about them and when showing, the crowds would see it," Cynthia said. "That was especially true of Sunset Commander. From the moment he burst into the ring, the crowd would go crazy for him."

In 1964, "we went to Payson, Illinois, where Dad opened his own operation. He went into the old My Idle Hour Farm barn built and owned by Emil House, who had known Tom Bass." The famous former slave trainer "advised him on horse buying and Mr. House had nice horses, including WCH Delaine Hour." Mr. House "agreed to sell the place to Dad and Mom but died before that could go through. His grandsons wanted to keep the barn, which one of them turned into an artist studio." After "being in Payson for 15 years, my dad had to move a bunch of horses. They selected a place in northern Illinois so they could be close to my mom's parents who were getting elderly and in need of help sometimes. They are still in Garden Prairie, and though my dad has some horses, he is mostly retired now."

Mr. Macklin had a story about my father: "I called Art in Mexico to come to Payson and look at a three-year-old mare named Rain Song. He like the mare and paid me what I asked, which was $5,000. Later, Art told me he only had the mare for a few weeks and sold her for $20,000. Danny Jenner bought her and sold her for $30,000." Over the years, Mr. Macklin "made many a horse," and sold them to trainers who bought them for customers to show. During this interview period, I discerned that Ted Macklin was happy about his life of working with horses needing his incisive and intuitive understanding that helped them to bring out their best as Saddlebred Horses.

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