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ASHA Breeders Hall of Fame: William Blacklaw/Gene and Annalize Van Der Walt; ASHA Meritorious Service: William Blacklaw

The ASHA Breeders Hall of Fame and Meritorious Service Awards are a long way from Oregon City, Oregon and a four-stall barn that housed a five-gaited mare and a road horse, but that’s how it started for tonight’s recipient and their longtime trainers. He promised her a horse and after 10 years of marriage she said she wasn’t waiting any longer. That first horse was an Arabian, but after she saw an American Saddlebred in the same barn where her Arab was being trained, that’s all it took. She was overcome by the majestic beauty of the Saddlebred and soon owned her first, which would be followed by their own barn and then an entire facility.

Established in 1968, the family operation grew as did an interest in breeding and raising top American Saddlebreds. It wasn’t long before their top gaited stallion, Prim Style, a son of Anacacho Shamrock and Primrose Path, a full sister to world’s grand champion CH Wing Commander, was siring top show horses, including CH Rip City and CH Prime Ovation.

Joining Prim Style in our honoree’s stallion line up was Plainview’s Commander, a son of world’s grand champions CH Wing Commander and world’s grand champion CH Plainview’s Julia (BHF). Diana’s King Genius also stood there. He was a son of Genius Bourbon King and Lovely Diana, a full sister to Diana Gay, the dam of world’s grand champion CH Valley View Supreme. They later added a son of Red Oak’s Imagination.

“My wife was fascinated with horses,” said our co-honoree. “Doubletrees Fashion was our first American Saddlebred and it snowballed from there. For the breeding part of it, I’ve always enjoyed seeing the horses mature and grow up. We weren’t ones to buy a finished horse. We would rather produce it.”

With these outstanding pedigrees our honorees’ breeding stock was already making its presence felt in the national sire ratings and in the show ring for the west coast futurities.

Fast forward to 2002 and a South African couple loaded up their belongings and moved to Oregon City, joining this noted operation. They knew of the great reputation for the farm’s breeding program and worked hard to maintain their fine reputation and introduce some additional bloodlines.

Sired by the two-time South African Five-Gaited Grand Champion Dorian Wild Temper, Dorian Warriors Song was imported from South Africa. He won the 2003 Lexington Junior League Fine Harness Grand Championship. He is now the sire of world’s champion of champions CH Princess Warrior and world’s champions CH Warrior’s Carumba and Freshly Dipped, among others.
“When we arrived, he had three broodmares and was very interested in doing this,” said the professional side of our co-honorees. “He wanted to change direction. I was interested in breeding and bloodlines and my wife was interested in reproduction. We were lucky to have a vet named Dr. Mary Masterson who liked us and really helped. Annalize went to reproduction school so we could learn to do it all right here and not have to rely on the vets.”

In 2010, the operation moved to Kentucky and since has exploded, becoming one of, if not the largest, operations in the country, standing up to 15 stallions while having 35-40 mares. They foal out mares for many customers and bring in 25-30 yearlings every year.

In addition to their own stallion, Carl Lynn, the farm stands outside sires like Arrowhead’s Unlike Any Other, Tom Cat, Rose Arbor’s Destiny, Simbara’s Rio Bravo, Riverdreams Black Pearl, My Royale Flush, Stonecroft My Treat, and Undulata’s Perfect Storm, among others.

“The greatest thing about this is we eagerly await a cross  to foal out,” said our professional co-honoree. “We can’t wait to not sleep as we foal out everything ourselves.

“Then, in the training barn we get to say, ‘I told you that was going to work, referring to a certain cross. It is much more rewarding starting these colts that we helped create than it is to keep an old campaigner up. Not everyone can raise a stake horse, but if you can consistently raise a really usable show horse, that’s the niche.”

Our tri of honorees has done a great job understanding the science of reproduction, understanding the crossing of bloodlines, and understanding the marketing of young stock. Their passion has produced the likes of Cape Grace, Doll Me Up, The Other Side Of Grace, Jackalberry, Tango Mango, Charm Me Forever, Warrior’s Sunbird, Chantilly’s Clarice, EAC Libertas, SH Our Grand Illusion, Goddess Of War, SH The Conversation, SH Carl’s Warrior, Roxy Flyer, and Carl My Maybe, among others.

If all of this wasn’t enough contribution to the American Saddlebred industry, the owner among this trio of honorees established a $1,000,000 endowment gift to the World’s Championship Horse Show in memory of his late wife who was a longtime supporter of their equine endeavors. The Barbara Blacklaw Memorial Fund will provide additional prize money to all the ribbon winners of the annual Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship. “This is the class that we should all look to,” he said. “It is the finale and should be the one that people are there to see, enjoying all the excitement of the American Saddlebred.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, please help me honor Bill Blacklaw Of Singing Hills Stables with the ASHA Meritorious Service Award and the ASHA Breeders’ Hall of Fame, which he is the co-winner of, along with his longtime trainers and breeding managers, Gene and Annalize van der Walt.

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