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CH Stonewall's Blazing Blueprint Retires

Editor's Note: The following speech was read by Thom Havens on Friday, April 29, 2005. Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Thom Havens, and tonight I have the pleasure of sharing with you the retirement of my very good friend’s dynamic five-gaited champion, Stonewall’s Blazing Blueprint.

Assembled in center ring are: Farrier, Allen Metz; breeder, Gene Pillion; the dam’s owner, Lori Pauley; and Lynn Snowden’s family, Hank Snowden, husband, Bob and Angie Gutches, her parents, Jenny and Bill Wyatt, her sister and brother-in-law, and Perry and Trey, her nephews.

This grand little horse being presented tonight, who has always shown larger than life, was once referred to by a friend, Lynn Hutchinson, as “The Energizer Bunny.” Most folks who see him perform, come back to the stall and are amazed that he is, at best, 15.3 in height. During every ride, he consistently provides his all. Lynn giggles that the biggest challenge in riding Blueprint is to get him to flat foot walk in the show ring. She'll say, "he still won’t flat foot walk for me at home in the barn. But when he enters the show ring, he is all business and knows what is expected.”

At 19 years of age, on May 18, Blueprint will make his last show ring appearance. May I present CH Stonewall’s Blazing Blueprint; his trainer, Bobby Murphy; his caretakers, Butch Riley and Bill Shannon; and his owner, Lynn Gutches Snowden.

Blueprint was conceived at A.E. Knowlton’s Emerald Farm in Delaware, Ohio. Gene Pillion, stallion, breeding, and farm manager at Emerald Farm, bred the Stonewall’s Beau Peavine son, Truly Stonewall, to a buck and wing mare, Crazy Lady, owned by John and Lori Pauley. The produce of this breeding combination includes world champion Champion High Expectations, Stonewall’s Truly a Lady, Odds, The Surveyor, The Estimator, and Stonewall’s Spring Ballot.

Blueprint began training as a long yearling at Murphy Training Stables under the guidance of Bobby Murphy. Lynn remembers watching, with skepticism, this rather incorrigible colt. At the time she was thinking she was glad not to be the owner, because of his poor behavior. When started in long lines and in harness, Blueprint was a leaper. Every blanket or halter on a stall door, every blowing blade of grass or each tree that passed, seemed to be a reason or an excuse to lunge, or to lower down and scoot. His ducking away antics continue today (just less frequently), as photographer Howie Schatzburg well knows, but this is what makes him the show horse that he is.

His first time in saddle, as a four-year-old, Blueprint was delighted in walking the length of the barn on his hind legs. With wisdom, Bobby’s father Walter Murphy, who was inducted into the Kentucky State Fair Hall of Fame in 1992, and has made many world champions himself, calmly looked over and advised Bobby to “shake the colt’s head.” Blueprint finally put four feet on the ground, coming down ambling. His trainer began teaching him the wonderful four beat racking gait. His niche was found!

At this point, the hard work for his trainer and ground person, slash groom Butch Riley, began. Bobby laughs and says, “don’t look too closely at Blueprint’s shoes, they’re opposite from what you’d expect to see on a gaited horse. But this is what works with him!” Bobby worked tirelessly to teach discipline and performance to the rascal. At the same time, Bobby was very careful not to break his spirit.

As a junior horse, Blueprint was shown several times in fine harness. Despite best efforts, some of the lounging escapades appeared in the show ring; but what a sight it was to see him perform with that lofty trot! It was at this point that his future owner began to take a notice.

Hank and Lynn had made a deal that the first largely successful profit in the business would warrant a coveted Porsche for Lynn. Blueprint became her Porsche.

“I was always enamored with High Expectations, and sorry to have him let go out of the stable, but to tell the truth, I had to be initially convinced that Blueprint was the right horse for me.” Lynn admits. “What can I say, other than over the years, I learned to listen to Walter and Bobby on their selection of horses for me, and this once in a lifetime pairing with Blueprint has been a special and wonderfully exciting opportunity.”

By the end of Blueprint’s five-year-old year, Bobby Murphy was showing him successfully in novice gaited classes. Then Lynn and Blueprint spent their first shows learning together to say the least.

“No matter how hard we worked at home to learn our lessons, Blueprint and I both always entered the show ring with a bit of nervousness," said Lynn. "We were always knocking shoes off, or running out of rack.” Soon enough, however, this pair started winning and never looked back.

“Every time we showed the first several seasons, a trainer or another individual would approach Bobby to inquire about purchasing Blueprint. I don’t think there was anyone in the business that wasn’t interested in him,” Lynn tells. “Bobby obviously felt obligated to share each offer with me, for some personal reasons, but mainly because I had never owned a horse that received that kind of interest or attention. I was flustered and upset by this, feeling that if it amounts offered kept increasing, I’d never be able to convince Bobby and Hank not to sell him. After several times of me bursting into tears, Bobby and I came to an understanding that he was not to entertain any offers, or at least not tell me anymore when someone contacted him; and Hank agreed to quit teasing me about how much money we could make on this horse. I finally settled down and really enjoyed showing Blueprint.”

In August of 1993, when Blueprint was seven, he and Lynn showed at the Kentucky State Fair for the first time. Coming down the ramp into the vastness of the green shavings at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky., was all that had been promised.

Bobby had the horse more than ready and, “all that I had heard in instructions from him was to pat the saddle and go slowly to the bottom of the ramp, so as not to break out of trot in a rack,” Lynn remembers. "As we reached the bottom of the ramp, amid horses flying by all around us, I gasped at the magnificence as we entered the arena, and then we settled down to business. I was sitting in the lineup of a very large five-gaited amateur class (that had all the 'Who’s Who' of Crabtree riders from my era) and was just proud that we had successfully completed all five gaits in both directions.

During the four horse workout that followed, I looked up and away from the job at hand and I grinned and sort of waved as much as I dared, with reins in hand, to see where my parents (always my greatest supporters) were seated. Bill Carrington called out one of my all time favorites , CH Callaway's New Look, with CH Lex Town, CH Heir to Champagne, completing the placing of the four horses in the workout. I nearly fell off Blueprint when I realized that I placed fifth immediately behind these great horses.”

Blueprint and Lynn went on winning and placing reserve in amateur five-gaited classes at A rated shows to achieve championship status. Lynn is very proud of Blueprint earning this status. She is especially proud that they earned their last points at home, here at River Ridge Charity Horse Show. Blueprint and Lynn next began showing in five-gaited pleasure classes and have since earned the CH status two times over.

CH Stonewall’s Blazing Blueprint has received the blue ribbon more than 120 times, at the following shows: Kentucky Fall Classic, Indianapolis Charity, All American Classic, ASHAV, ASHA of Michigan, Kentucky Spring Premiere, River Ridge, Dayton, UPHA Chapter 13 Cleveland Classic, West Virginia Mountaineer Classic, Portsmouth, Youngstown, The Ohio State Fair, Blue Ribbon Classic, Western Reserve Classic, and Delaware Riding Club Horse Shows.

He has been named reserve champion at such prestigious shows as The American Royal and Rock Creek Riding Club.

At Lexington and Louisville, he has always tied well, placing as high as third place at Lexington Junior League. In showing 11 years at The Kentucky State Fair, Blueprint has always placed, with the exception of one year. Blueprint has always been in the upper ribbons at Louisville, and recently, at the age of 17, he placed fourth (qualifying for the championship out of four divisions and over 70-plus five-gaited pleasure horses). He has earned votes for the reserve championship tie at the prestigious show.

One of the best experiences Lynn recalls about showing Blueprint under the Murphys guidance occurred at the ASHAM fall show in Detroit. As can happen with horse show schedules, Bobby, Butch and Lynn came hurrying out with Blueprint, ready to warm him up for a class. Butch was loaded down with lots of equipment. In order to hold the horse’s head for Bobby to mount, Butch handed Lynn what she could hold and placed the rest off to the side. As Blueprint pranced off, he stepped on the baby powder container, causing an explosion all over the person standing off to the side; Lynn’s navy suit was covered in white speckles. After a second of stunned silence from everyone in the warm-up arena, Lynn burst into laughter. Others joined in and with the assistance of good friends from Cape Cod Farm, damp towels were produced and the hurried cleanup began. Needless to say, Lynn did not purchase their victory pass photo.

Blueprint goes by the barn name of “Bobby.” Lynn is not exactly sure how this started, but his older brother High Expectations was called Butch. Bobby Murphy and Butch Riley are not providing explanations as to why High Expectations was called Butch. One time, on the outside entrance pass into a class at this coliseum, Lynn snapped out rather loudly, “Bobby, stop it!” Several days later, her good friend, Dee Cole, in her typically polite style, said, “Can I ask you something?” She went on to explain the comment she had heard, and stated, “I can’t believe you talked to your trainer like that.” Lynn smirked, and then advised that Dee’s assumption was correct, even though everyone who knows this owner and trainer has heard them humorously banter like siblings at each other for years. Lynn would not have had the nerve to be so discourteous in public. She explained that Blueprint gets very excited, and as he attempted to race into the ring, she had verbally corrected the horse; she was not speaking to her trainer.

As you see Blueprint’s last show ring passes, hopefully you have enjoyed this champion’s performances as much as he and his owner have! According to his trainer, once this horse was made, he has always been consistent, and eager to perform. He is always giving a good day’s work. No one remembers ever having to call the vet, for this “Iron Horse,” other than for routine immunizations or completion of health papers for a show. According to Lynn, Blueprint has always provided a wonderful challenge, and she feels that he teaches her something every time she rides him. Her comment, “If you’re not the top of your game, he’ll use you up,” has always applied.

“Bobby” will remain in training at Bobby Murphy’s because those who know him best, do not think he will take to being let down and turned out. He’s “ too full of it” and too much fun to ride! As his workouts lessen, Billy and Butch will have to watch the diet of “Fatprint,” who eats anything in sight! Don’t be surprised, however, if you see Blueprint in the future visiting at show grounds close to home, because no one is sure how he will adjust to not coming along! If a horse ever knew when it’s time to go show, it's Blueprint! He has always stood eagerly forward in his cross ties with his ears forward as his leg bandages for shipping are put on. He nearly runs you over as he approaches the van ramp and his shipping stall.

"I know he loves to show, and even after all this time, it’s almost as if he views horse shows as a great adventure as much as I do,” Lynn relates.

As Blueprint exits the show ring, Lynn would like to extend her gratitude to his many admirers over the years, and say thanks for all of the support and encouragement that have been received.

Hank and Lynn Snowden, the Gutches family and Bobby Murphy Training Stables invite you to join them after tonight’s session at their stalls in the show barn for carrot cake and champagne as Blueprint receives his favorite treat, a bucket of gatorade.

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