Mississippi's Silhouette Farms Breeding Spots
by Tom Burriss
In earlier times, it was not uncommon for a bride to be accompanied by a dowry on her wedding day. In essence it was sort of a payment to help the groom defray the costs of his new bride and provide him a leg up to help support his new family.
When Bobby and Sally Sigman of Mt. Pleasant, Mississippi were united in holy matrimony, in 1997, she was not accompanied by a dowry. Although, unknown to either at the time, the five saddle horses she brought with her to their marriage would quickly become their passion and way of life, not to mention their business.
Both are employed as rural mail carriers, but they have made committed steps, along with Sally's parents, John and Lesley Loftin, into the business of breeding Spotted Saddle Horses.
They have fully loaded their guns in an effort to get themselves off the ground. Standing two studs with nine World Grand Champions in their progeny and a combined spotted and solid brood herd, they are well on their way to establishing themselves as premier breeders.
Sally had grown up on the farm. Her biggest background was in cattle though. She spent the bulk of her youth showing registered polled herefords and black angus until well after her high school years.
Throughout, she maintained an affinity for horses and riding. When she met Bobby, he was horseless, although he had spent a fair portion of his life in the saddle.
Together they decided that it would be good for him to have a horse that he could call his own. In the meantime they would have to decide what to get him.
Sally had been keeping her horses at her father's place, just five miles down the road. About that same time, he had purchased a yearling Spotted Saddle Horse. For whatever reason, the horses were disagreeable with one another, and the yearling would need some safe harboring.
Bobby and Sally volunteered to put the horse in their "yard," the only portion of their 120 acres which they had fenced; one and a half acres. They agreed to keep it until it had become accustomed to them and had settled a bit so that they could reintroduce it.
The more Bobby saw that horse, the more he liked it. They settled on buying a Spotted Saddle Horse for him too, once they were done working John's yearling.
In 1998 they found and purchased a double registered Tennessee Walker and Spotted Saddle Horse by the name of MARK'S MAGIC GAL, or "KC" as they like to call her. This was their introduction to Spotted Saddle Horses.
To this point though, they had not made any sort of move to be fulltime or even committed breeders. In fact, they were committed to trail and pleasure riding, and that was all.
Slowly though, they began working their way into breeding their horses. As they did, they were also faced with some life choices; like what to do after retirement.
This, in a round-about way helped convince them that they wanted to be more serious about what they were doing. In 1999 they decided to start going full bore.
Spotted Saddle Horses are Tennessee Walking Horses bred, of course, for their "spots:" any two inch square block of white below the head and above the belly. Some have more than others. Coming in tabiano, overo and sabino displays, but also having, in some cases, just one spot; in the tail, on the mane, and even under the saddle.
The spots are a genetic trait, only guaranteed if one of the parents carries a homozygous gene combination. Of there are numerous possibilities, options and chances experimenting with heterozygous combinations. For example, breeding a solid Tennessee Walking Horse to a heterozygous spotted mare.
To be a registered Spotted Saddle Horse, there need only be one registered parent. And many times Spotted Saddle Horses are double registered as Tennessee Walking Horses. Spotted Saddle Horses have had an independent organization for the last 17 years: The Spotted Saddle Horse Breeder's and Exhibitors Association (SSHBEA).
In 1999, the Sigmans began their full fledged pursuit of Spotted Saddle Horses. They found two full sisters, RAZ MA TAZ (Razzie) and MONTANA FIREBRAND (Tana), who are PAINT THE TOWN bred.
At the same time they also came across a stud at the farm where they purchased Razzie and Tana, named SPOTTED ALEN AGAIN, one of the most illustrious studs in the spotted industry.
He is registered with four different registries , which include SSHEBA, TWHBEA, The Racking Horse Breeders Association, and the National Spotted Saddle Horse Association. Up to 1999 his offspring have won 84 world championships, 62 reserve world championships, seven world grand championships, and six reserve world grand championships. Two of those world grand championships were won in the last five years.
SPOTTED ALEN AGAIN is himself is a supreme champion and three time world champion.
It was hard for the Sigmans to argue with his statistics. They began breeding to him and were wonderfully pleased with his foals.
The shocker came when they called the owners, looking to buy more mares, that it was mentioned in passing to Bobby that SPOTTED ALEN AGAIN was for sale.
Of course, a horse of that magnitude, the Sigmans did not really give it much thought thinking that he was way out of their range. But Sally's curiosity was peaked and she made a call.
"It was more money than we ever planned to spend," says Sally.
But they remembered some strong advice given to them by her Uncle Phil Karr, "If you are going to go into breeding, you need to have the best mares and sires that you can get," recounts Sally.
The long and the short of it is the Sigmans became the new owners of SPOTTED ALEN AGAIN on January 24, 2002.
"We liked our ALEN colts so well that we bought SPOTTED ALEN AGAIN."
ALEN now stands at stud at Blackhawk farms in Shelbyville, TN.
Their other great fortune was the purchase of ANOTHER GREY JOHN. Only one of three Tennessee Walking Horse stallions standing that has produced a World Grand Champion TWH. He too, stands at stud in Shelbyville at Blackhawk Farms.
Sally's father also got into the act. Although, John was not quite willing to pay what Bob and Sally had.
He did purchase a stallion SPIRIT OF MOONLIGHT, who stands at stud on the farm in Mt. Pleasant.
The Sigmans have been using a combination of natural and artificial breeding methods. Among last years foal and those coming, they have a strong backing and lineage: ALEN, CARBON COPY, MARSHALL DILLON, just to name a few. There are a number of two and three year olds for sale, not to mention the bevy of yearlings that are coming around.
It is the Sigmans firm belief that they have to work hard to be good breeders.
"Anyone can buy a great horse. But it takes a special effort to be a great breeder," comments Sally.
They have really filled up their schedule with shows to enjoy and promote their horses.
"We plan to be at fifteen shows this year."
Although they show the horses in amateur classes, they have secured a trainer for their work, and to show open classes.
Scott Hannah, holds and works a number of the Sigmans hopefuls. Originally a cutting horse trainer and then studied under Howard Hamilton, Scott is training on his own, now in his second season, from his home in Trenton, Tennessee.
"He is truly a horseman," says Bobby. "He treats them like we like to treat them."
The Sigmans recognize the importance of a horse's limitations, and they work their horses with constraint and compassion.
"You can take a lot of the big names in horse training and put them all together, and that is how we like to train our horses," explains Bobby.
"Basically, if we can't do it easily with them, we don't do it," furthers Sally.
While walking in their pastures you can see that this is the truth. They all follow Bobby and Sally around like puppies, not to mention they, for the most part, respond to voice commands too.
They vaccinated and wormed their fourteen horses in half an hour. All of them were worked out in the field, some without a halter.
"The most impressive thing is their disposition,"
As she told me that, Bobby showed me by gently tossing a halter on to KC's back, and then at her head, without so much as a flinch.
"The Tennessee Walking Horse is billed as the ride of your life,' and the best part is their smooth gait," says Sally.
"They have the best disposition there is and are the most versatile horse."
That refers to the versatility of how Spotted Saddle Horses are used for cutting, roping, barrels, jumping, and working cattle.
The Sigmans and the Loftins have truly made a family business of Silhouette Farms. They all contribute equally to the effort being made.
The Silouhette comes from a picture that was shot of Bobby's KC as she was standing along the fence line. The photo of her silhouette now is the emblem for their business.
The Sigmans are offering a free breeding to either one of their stallions in conjunction with the Grand Opening of Phil Karr's Supply and Trailer Sales. If you would like more information you can call Silhouette Farms at (662)851-7776 or (662)851-7782; or log onto www.blackhawkstallions.com to view the stallions.
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