April 24, 2018
Joe Johnson Stables Understands Breeding by Kevin DeBusk Joe Johnson enjoys talking about his career breeding horses. Johnson, who operates Joe Johnson Stables in Rossville, Tennessee, has been involved in breeding horses for more than thirty-five years and has worked with some of the top studs in the Walking Horse industry. "I enjoy the horses and the whole business," Joe said. "I've always liked horses and enjoyed fooling with them. I started working with horses in the early 60's and have been in the Walking Horse industry all my life. I had an opportunity to become the stud manager at GLL (formerly of Collierville, Tennessee) in 1964 and I started there. It's the old home place of CARBON COPY. "I've worked with eight or nine World Champions. I worked with CARBON COPY, HAND SHAKER, and BLACK POWER JUNIOR. I currently have two Flat Shod World Champions here. We have BIONIC SUPER STAR and STERLING SILVER GENERATOR." Joe also stands the 1994 National Futurity Two-Year-Old and International Two-Year-Old Champion Stallion POISON. In 1978 Joe decided to leave GLL and open his own barn back on the family farm in Rossville, Tennessee. "I had MR GLOW and MACK'S HAND SHAKER when we started here. Then I had BLACK POWER JUNIOR, who was a good amateur horse and a World Champion. "I got to be known in the horse business from working with GLL and CARBON COPY and that helped me. It gave me a reputation. "We are a breeding operation and break colts. The other barns around here are training farms that train under saddle. We don't do any riding. We want to get them to two-year-old and let someone else have them." The breeding operation consists of both on-site and off-site breeding. "We ship a lot of semen from POISON and STERLING SILVER GENERATOR all over the country," he reported. "We do all the collecting and processing and then ship it Federal Express. That's what we did back in the early sixties with CARBON COPY and that's why I collect them today. Other than having to be real sanitary, it's not that big a process; you buy the cool pack semen and mix it with an extender." Joe Johnson also takes in a lot of mares for breeding. "We keep some of the mares till they get in foal and others we keep through a heat cycle," he stated. "It depends on what kind of facility the customer has as to how long we keep the mares. If they have a good vet or a stud that can tease the mare they will take them home to have them checked but if not, we can keep them here till the vet checks them." Joe also understands the importance of body conditioning of mares for breeding. "I like to see the mare in good body flesh when she arrives," he said. "You don't want a fat mare or a mare that's undernourished. You want them kind of like a racehorse but on the up swing putting on weight. They have a tendency to get in foal a lot easier than one that is undernourished. You see more horses come in overweight than underweight." So how does Joe suggest you determine a stallion? "You go by bloodlines," he said. "If you have a GENERATOR mare you don't want to breed back to GENERATOR. Sometimes they will line breed but in that case you will either get a good one or a sorry one. That's what you need to do though is look at pedigree and bloodlines. "People go by bloodlines as much as anything when crossing a mare with a certain stud. If a stud is producing top show colts or top horses under saddle, they get real popular. If a stud's colts are selling good as yearlings, lots of people will sell them instead of putting them in training." To show his confidence in the studs he stands, Joe breeds to them. "It helps," he said. "I have three yearling fillies and one stud colt right now out of POISON." Through all of this hard work, Joe said his reward comes from watching the colts." I keep an eye on them after they leave here," he commented. "I like to see the colts from the time they're babies till they go under saddle and see how many will make good show horses and World Champions." When not breeding horses and breaking colts, Joe is repairing saddles and operating a shooting reserve. "This works out pretty good," he said. "Everything is tied together: horses, hunting and dogs."
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