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Eugene Kennedy Inducted in Hackney Hall of Fame

Pat Kennedy, John Kennedy, Frances Bjalobok - AHHS Exec. Sec., Eugene Kennedy, Carole Kennedy, Lambert Junior Schut - AHHA President

Eugene Kennedy was inducted in the American Hackney Horse Society Hall of Fame on Monday night during the World’s Championship Horse Show. Following the conclusion of the evening’s classes, family and friends joined Kennedy for a celebration at the John Shea Stables.


The following remarks were read on Monday night during the induction ceremony:


Admired for his skill and competitive spirit, Eugene Kennedy is one of the horse show community’s greatest assets - a wealth of knowledge spanning 80 years of showing and breeding.  Raised in Taylorville, IL, he shared his father, Roy Kennedy’s love and interest of horses and ponies.  They visited the great farms of the 1920’s and 1930’s to study their philosophies and breeding programs, as Mr. Kennedy educated himself to become one of the finest breeders of champion Hackneys.  During his teens, he traveled with his family to show ponies single, pair, tandem and under saddle. His good friend, Doc Flannery, often asked Gene to drive or ride his road horses - thrills he remembers with a smile.  “Showing on the “kerosene circuit” was a life-learning experience, one for the books,” Gene fondly remembers. “We all helped one another - traded stock, loaned stock, and then would catch-drive for one another to fill a class.” 


Gene followed his father in the general contracting and farming enterprises.  In the mid-1930’s, he met his soul mate - the lovely Alice Carnahan showing a harness pony at the Marion, IL horse show.  Together they built their stables, farming, general contracting and redi-mix enterprises, sharing a love and dedication to one another that lasted 62 happy years. Their son is the noted horseman and harness maker, Patrick Kennedy, owner of Kenhurst Farm and Kennedy Harness Company. 


A respected judge from the 1940’s through the late 1980’s, he adjudicated  many shows including the World Championship Horse Show. Mr. Kennedy says that, “it was a thrill for me, being invited by Bill Munford to judge this show.  What a wonderful person to work with. To judge and to show at the best “turned out” show in the country is thrilling.


Mr. Kennedy served as a Director and/or President of the American Hackney Horse Society from 1960-1994 and was instrumental in bringing its Futurity to the WCHS, which proved to be a great benefit to Hackney breeding farms.  He also served many years on the AHSA Hackney and Harness Pony Committee and continues to participate with other equine associations and shows.


He and his mentor, Harley Heyl worked to develop his vision Of Hackney breeding - animation, color, stylish quality, and athleticism - the hallmarks of the Creation’s King, Southworth Swell, and King Of The Plains.  After the Heyl Dispersal in 1957, Mr. Kennedy purchased Creation’s King and continued to line-breed him with select mares, successfully developing progeny to lead the sire rating for 17 years.


With his supportive family and dedicated employees, Eugene Kennedy and his son, Pat, raised, trained and exhibited many ponies under the Kennedy Pony Farm banner including May Day Dividend, May Day Elise, May Day Poppin’, May Day Modernaire, Rhythm’s Black Satin, Dividonna, Poppin’s Robin, Prides’s Pandora, Duke Elegant, Dark Rythmn, Highlander, Pride’s Cameo, Dan Cupid, Apollo’s Heir and Apollo’s Righto, jut to name a few. 



Truly major accomplishments are the multiple classes in the 1960’s through the 1990’s at the WCHS where various Hackney Champions and Reserve Champions were bred from Kennedy Pony Farm and its bloodlines.  History was made one Saturday evening in the 1970’s when the only two full brothers in any division won the World’s Grand Champion and the Reserve - Apollo’s Heir and Apollo’s Righto. Six of the 13 ponies in that championship class were bred at Kennedy Pony Farm - without a Kennedy showing. 


Eugene Kennedy continues to maintain his show stable and breeding program in Taylorville, IL, sharing his keen enthusiasm and love of horses with four generations of his family. They work with him in his endeavors and are joining him at the WCHS.  We wish to celebrate Eugene Kennedy and his contributions to the Hackney breed and the show horse industry. 



Editor’s note: At age 92, Eugene Kennedy is still winning in the show ring. At the recently concluded Illinois State Fair, Kennedy’s 81st Fair, he showed Kennedy Pony Farm-owned Scottish Lass to the blue in the Land of Lincoln Hackney Pony class.


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