Davis Farms Enjoys Closeness Of Walking Horse Industry by Kevin DeBusk mSusan and Richard Davis moved their farm from Cordova, Tennessee to a farm just outside Somerville, in Fayette County last year. "This is the major leagues of the horse industry," Richard commented. "Middle Tennessee is the major league of the horse industry but West Tennessee is a close second. "There are excellent caliber horses and trainers in this area. It's very competitive when you compete around. You have big name horses and big name trainers that come to these shows. They have customers that spend a lot of money on these horses. These might be little one night shows and you're going to have some horses that can't compete in Shelbyville but you're also going to have some that will go to Shelbyville and win World Championship. "The Walking Horse industry is like a big family. You have to be a part of that family. They might be upset with you at times but our family is the Walking Horse Industry and they will help you out." "We've had some barns burn in Tennessee and trainers have lost everything but people pull together to offer them tack," Susan stated. "Within a week's time that trainer is back showing. That's the type family you become. You really help each other out." "We started with horses in 1994," Richard reported. "We bought our first show horse in 1995. We got into the showing part of it and one day I went out and looked at a couple of mares at Charlie Wades and I think I brought six back. That's really what put us over the top in the horse business. "She started showing and I didn't want to have anything to do with the showing aspect when we started. When I got involved in it I thought it was boring watching horses going round and round. It looked so easy riding a horse but it's not there is so much involved in it. "We like the babies and enjoy raising them. It's something that both of us enjoy doing and it has brought us closer together. It has given us a common goal with something both of us enjoy." "When we first started we were playing with it because we enjoyed the babies," commented Susan. "Then one day we decided if we are going to do this let's do this right. He has always been kind of a perfectionist. One day he said let's do it the right way and move forward. There wasn't anything else going on in our lives so we put everything into it." With their oldest son working and their two youngest in college, horses have filled a void in the their lives. They now realize how a business can bring family and friends closer. "I think it (horses) have brought us closer," Susan commented. "You share that common interest and bond. We are focused on the same goals of what we want to do. "It's great for the kids that when they come home they can ride. It's a wonderful thing for families to do. I think it really brings families together. It especially brings a family with small children closer together. We have friends with small children that are in horses and they do it together. It's a family thing and keeps the kids close to home and out of trouble." "We love children," Richard said. "I love to see children come out and pet the horses. We love for children to come out anytime." "Today we raise registered Walking Horses and registered Spotted Saddle Horses," Susan reported. "The reason we got into Walking horses was the lessons I started taking were on Walking horses. I fell in love with the ride and wouldn't have anything else. That's how we started with Walking Horses." "We currently own nine brood mares," Richard said. "We board a few horses for different people and the first of February we had a couple of trainers, Edgar and Joseph Abernathy, come in. They are training horses on their own and going to all the shows. It's like two separate businesses, we have our farm operation and Edgar and his brother are training horses for customers as Abernathy Stables." "They just rent out a portion of the barn from us," Susan added. "We have two horses they are working and we have horses with Ray Gilmer," continued Richard. "We have a World Champion show pleasure horse (THE GREAT ESCAPE) that won the Gentleman's World Championship at Celebration this year and was Reserve World Grand Champion. We also have two colts with him. "Ray started training my horses when Charlie Whittington got sick. Ray has done an outstanding job and that's why my horses are with him now." The Davis's might not train the horses but they love showing them. "I'm a very competitive person," Richard commented. "If I'm going to do something I'm going to try to be the best I can. When I won my World Championship that was the forth time I had show in that ring and I bragged but I had good horse, good coaching from Ray and a little luck. "We do our own riding. Ray trains the horse and shows it occasionally. Last year he showed at Germantown and won a championship." "We want to ride our horse," Susan added. "Last year I wasn't able to ride much but after Andy (THE GREAT ESCAPE) won his title they let me ride him and I got a blue ribbon. It's fun to do it yourself." Davis Farms is also involved in breeding and selling high quality Walking Horses. "We've been breeding to some of the top name stallions," Susan reported. "We have mares in foal to JFK and CALVIN KLINE. I also have one coming bred to CASH FOR KEEPS. We're trying to have good name horses in the barn. We don't want to have "junk horses" here. We want to have really top quality horses." "That's what we are breeding for," Richard added. "Our goal is to one day produce a World Champion. We have THE GREAT ESCAPE's mother and she just foaled. She was bred to GENERATOR'S FALCON." In addition to their breeding program Davis Farm also stand two studs for Nick Thornton, of Brownsville, Tennessee. "ALLEN'S SOUTHERN CHAMP is a black and white homozygous stallion," Susan said. "He is guaranteed to produce 100% spots. We also have a perlino stallion (COLOR QUEST) and he produces palomino and buckskin foals. "We have another stallion of his eventually coming down, KING OF ROCK AND ROLL. He is another black and white stallion." Richard continued saying that Dr. Mark Akins collected these stallions and that they shipped semen. "I chose Davis Farms, not only for the marvelous facility, but also because Richard and Susan are people of character who know what it takes to properly tend to animals in their care," said Nick Thronton. I know my stallions are in excellent hands." "It's of importance to us that our horse are well taken care of," responded Susan. "You can look at them and see how healthy they are. We don't scrimped on them. Our brood mares probably get the best care. Better care than we do during their pregnancy. "If someone brings us a mare to be bred they get excellent care. They probably leave in a little better shape than when they got here. Anyone who brings a horse in here doesn't have to worry about whether they are fed well. "All of our brood mares get all their shots and regular shots during their pregnancy. We give them extra grain before they foal and extra milk plus after they foal. It's proven if you have a healthy mare she's going to give you a healthier foal. It's like any animal if you take care of them before they get here and take good care of them after they get here you're going to have a much stronger athlete in the future." Horses being brought in for breeding also must meet health requirements. "They must have a negative coggins," he said. "We don't allow any horse on this property without a negative coggins. They also must have all their shots up-to-date and had the Strangles vaccine." Susan continued saying, "We look at the mare when she arrives to make sure she doesn't have any injures that need to be taken care of. We don't want any horses that are injured or ill because that spreads it and we will ask them to bring it back at a later date." "These horses probably get more medical care than we do," Richard added. "I have to keep her from calling a vet every time they get a runny nose." Maintaining their desired program requires asking questions from fellow horsemen and specialist. "I ask a lot of questions," Richard stated. "We have some very good experts that help us out. Mark Akin is our vet and he is well known in the Walking Horse Industry. "We ask him about the quality of feed and health issues. We're using a CO-OP feed specially designed for Walking Horses and locally grown hay. Providing services for the local rider is where Davis Farms strives to be. "That's what we are trying to do," said Richard. "The stud fee on both of these horses is affordable and you are pretty much guaranteed your going to get a smooth colored up horse you want." "We're trying to cover both areas in a way," said Susan. "For the people in the area we have something nice to breed to that's reasonable but if they want a horse by someone like JFK or CASH FOR KEEPS we've got colts like that. If they want to come look at colts we have a HARD TEXAS CASH yearling that people can say I want a horse like that. One I can do something with one day." "We're going to have a few top notch colts by World Grand Champions out of good mares," he said. "Then we are going to have some that are colored up real pretty that are nice trail horses." "We want to have a place that people can feel at easy to bring their horse to be bred and have some nice stallions," Susan said. "A place that the local people can afford to breed to. Not everyone can breed to these big name stallions that are fifteen hundred dollars and higher. Local people want to have a nice horse to breed to at a reasonable price and that's what we have. "People are going to know that they are getting the same care as if their mare was being bred to a top name stallion. I think that's going to help the local area." "Not everyone wants a show horse," Richard remarked. "This ALLEN'S SOUTHERN CHAMP is an easy going. We trail ride him and a child could ride him. It's unbelievable the way he will go down these ditches and come up the other side. He's a smooth horse. "People who trail ride want something that is colorful and pretty. They want something they can show off on the trail. Lots of people want to raise their own horse and say they raised it to trail ride. There is a lot of satisfaction in that. "We're heading in the direction where we will one day raise a World Grand Champion horse. We want to have some horses that everyday people can afford. I enjoy being around people and want to see a lot of people come out and bring their kids. "Hopefully one day we will make a little money with this operation but if we just survive that's okay too. We're not doing it for the money we're doing it for the love of the horses. It helps keep us together and keeping us together is worth it all." "We wan t people to know we have a facility that is nice and isn't falling down," Susan commented. "The horses are well taken care of and people are welcome to stop anytime to see the horses and talk to us. "If you are out looking for a horse stop by. If we don't have what you are looking for we might know somebody that has it and put them on the right track. "We are going to have a nice breeding facility here. It's not going to be big but it's going to be a nice one. "West Tennessee is really starting to be recognized in the Walking Horse industry and we hope to be a part of it. Hopefully, people will be able to say Davis Farms and people will recognize the name and talk good about us." No matter what they offer Richard sums up their success this way. "Reputation is a mans most valuable possession."
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