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Gypsy Jim

by Bob Funkhouser

A former brick layer, Jim Stewart will forever be known as the man who brought out the great CH Gypsy Supreme and along the way he’s also gained a pretty darn good reputation as a breeder. Horses have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve always been crazy about Saddle Horses. It’s the only breed I knew as a kid,” said Stewart. “When I was about 10 or 11 I worked for Mrs. Claude Drew. I used to go to the shows and help them. I worked with a lot of the old-time Missouri trainers.”

Today, other than his wife Doris, the top young stallion Gypsy Santana is the mainstay of Stewart’s life, and according to Doris some days it’s debatable where the two rank. “I wouldn’t ask him to make a choice. I’m too smart for that,” said his wife of 39 years, Doris.

“Horses are 100 percent his life. He just loves them and he enjoys any good horse. He really enjoys the breeding and watching his babies grow up. Of course he thinks his stallion is the only one. We are now finally getting colts old enough to be in the performance division and that is really exciting for both of us.”

A Missourian through and through, Stewart is a true character. The character he wants you to see is part country, part rough and gruff, and part wheeler and dealer. However, behind those glasses and that raspy voice is a pretty smart cookie with a good eye for a horse and a passion for producing a quality show horse.

Throughout the years he’s had show horses and raised babies and he much prefers the breeding business. In fact, as a young man his first purchase was a broodmare by Bryndale’s Emblem.

“I bought her from Dick Cook and I think I paid $10 a week until I got her paid off,” recalled Stewart. “She was in foal and had a nice baby by a Stonewall King son, Stonewall Of Drusdale. I won the Yearling class at Shelbina, Missouri, with that colt. I’ve been hooked ever since.”

While working for seven years as the head of masonry at the Nuclear Power Plant in New Bloomfield, Stewart and his wife built a barn and had Mike Wessel as their trainer.

“We made a lot of mistakes, but we learned a lot along the way, said Stewart. “I’ve got a saying, ‘It’s hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere,’ but we reorganized and decided we didn’t really want a training barn. My love is with these babies.”

The Stewarts sold their New Bloomfield facility to Mark and Kelly Hulse and returned to Columbia in 1992 where they purchased 100 acres of woods and pasture land with rich green grass, which made it just right for their vision of a Saddle Horse nursery. Now this isn’t your typical Saddlebred breeding farm, it’s done the Jim Stewart way. It’s not up there with the fancy places of the industry, but it’s a working facility that’s done its share of producing top caliber show horses. At a time when producing enough nice horses is a major concern for the industry, the Stewarts go to work every day with just that thought in mind.

“I started with a no-name nondescript stallion years ago and figured out that got me nowhere,” said Stewart. “Then I got Supreme Justice and we raised several nice babies by him including Chansonette Supreme. That stud was also a pretty nice walk-trot horse. Dale Pugh showed him.”

Always striving to improve the bloodlines he had, Stewart started raising and selling several nice horses. Among them were The Missouri Stud. His name was Radiant Saturn when Stewart sold him as a three-year-old. “He was a special horse from day one,” said Stewart.

Besides The Missouri Stud he also raised and sold Champagne Ambassador, Chansonette Supreme, Wing’s Americana and The Cork Popper to name a few.

Then a horse by the name of Gypsy Supreme came into his life. Kalarama Gypsy Lady was sent to Stewart to be bred to Supreme Justice. The small nine-day-old baby on her side was Gypsy Supreme. Stewart got the mare in foal and sent her and the baby home. The next year they sent the mare back to Stewart and Gypsy came with her.

“He was little, but he was always ready to go. If you see him today, you would never believe how small he was as a baby. Both he and the mare were poor, but I bought them because I liked Gypsy and I knew a little about the old mare.”

Gypsy Supreme grew up to be a big, game horse and Stewart brought him out at as a three-year-old and with Donnie Pugh showing him at the Illinois State Fair. The wild going, yet inconsistent colt was selected by Andy and Lynda Freseth for Ann Marie Brickzen and the rest is history.

Fellow Missouri breeder Betty Weldon loved Gypsy Supreme and approached Stewart about trading an embryo from Kalarama Gypsy Lady for a stud fee to one of her stallions, Will Shriver or Caramac.

“We made this deal and she got her embryo and when it came time for me to collect with a stud fee, I didn’t really want to breed to Will Shriver or Caramac, I wanted Sultan’s Santana. I had never seen the horse except pictures of him, but I thought he would cross well with that mare. I wouldn’t say Betty and I are friends, but we are good acquaintances but I made her kind of mad that I didn’t want to breed to Will.

“Anyway, they shipped the semen for Santana and it got here about ten o'clock one night. I took it over to Fred Sarver, who was working for Betty at the time, and he bred that mare at midnight and the resulting foal was Gypsy Santana.”

As Stewart suspected, it was a good cross. Shown by Jerry Cook and Lee Shipman, Gypsy Santana was reserve in the $100,000 Weanling Jackpot that was held at the American Royal.

“After that class some people approached us about buying him for a lot of money,” said Stewart. “We had him vetted the whole nine yards and then they didn’t come through. After that I said, ‘Heck with it, I’m going to keep him for my breeding stallion.’”

Gypsy Santana went on to win several futurity classes and then as a two-year-old he won at Rock Creek and the American Royal in harness. He continued to win in the harness division as a three-year-old with Mark Hulse at the whip and then was retired to stud.

He was actually bred a few times as a two-year-old to get his career underway. Some of the early babies indicated he was going to be a successful sire. Gypsy Santana Lady won the big monied Wisconsin Limited Breeder’s Weanling Jackpot and she is still showing and winning in the performance ranks today. Earning world’s champion titles in the weanling and yearling divisions were I’m Giving The News, Gypsy View Supreme and Undulata’s Gypsy Blue.

This past year another Gypsy Santana offspring, Long Distance, won the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding World’s Championship. This year Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves has caught everyone’s attention. Others winning include City Gypsy, Daddy O, Out Of Reach and Cindy Lou Who. This is what Stewart has been waiting for, babies old enough to be in the performance division.

“This is what we’ve been working for,” said Stewart. “The trainers really like working these Gypsy Santana babies. They tell me they are really smart and willing. I like to raise them and let everybody else have fun showing them. I have to sell horses and stud fees to stay in business. That is what I do.

“And compared to prices I hear at other places I sell cheap. I don’t think my stud fee is too exorbitant, it’s $2,000. I have people come in here and buy four or five colts at a time. I like to sell them in packages because I can give people a better price. I can’t guarantee every colt is going to make it, but statistically Gypsy Santana has been producing show horses. People that have bought packages have done really well.”

There are approximately 60 head of horses on the farm at any one time. The babies grow up in lush pastures running through the woods with the deer herds. The mares occupy the other side of the farm and in the center, the king [Gypsy Santana] has his own paddock and run in barn. The other king [Stewart] has his own little “barn” as well. When he’s not checking mares in foal, delivering a baby or trying to sell the next world’s champion, Stewart can be found in his office, a small building next to the house. The walls are lined with pictures of champion Gypsy Santana offspring and other horse show memorabilia. The man truly lives and breaths Saddle Horses.

Like his Missouri forefathers, Stewart and his wife Doris are determined to let the rest of the world know that top Saddle Horses don’t only come out of Kentucky. Since the days of Stonewall King, who was a personal favorite of Stewart’s elderly uncle, Missourians have boasted a rich tradition of raising great Saddle Horses and that tradition is thriving today at the end of a gravel lane in Columbia.

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