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For Hite And Ciampoli, Actions Speak Louder Than Words

by Ann Bullard


They’re a pair of quiet men who let their work speak for itself. For more than 75 combined years, Jimmie Hite and Max Ciampoli of Wentzville, Mo., have been doing just that. The words have been loud and clear.


That’s something their fellow Missourians and customers throughout the country have known for years. Those who might not have been familiar with the names before the last decade certainly have had reasons to do so during that time.


Both men are natives of the appropriately named Show Me State. Neither is much of a talker.


Born Jan. 12, 1930, Hite was raised in one of the cradles of the American Saddlebred: Mexico, Mo. Other than time in Alaska while in the Army, trips to shows and to purchase horses, he seldom has ventured outside its borders.


Hite, his older brother, G.P. Hite, and sister, Betty Turner, grew up on a farm outside of town. They often rode their horses to the one-room schoolhouse, putting the animals in the school’s barn for the day. The family’s involvement with Saddlebreds dates back to the 1920s. An uncle owned Astral Jones, a breeding stallion that enjoyed moderate success in the 1920s and 1930s; another family member owned the stallion’s son, Astral Hite.


The Hite family already was in Saddlebreds when

 Jimmie was born. His parents, Glen and Maria Hite,

 encouraged their son’s love of the sport.


“Jimmie is the smart one of the family,” Turner said. “He graduated from high school at 17 and has done nothing but been in the horse business since then.”


“I grew up around the fairgrounds,” Hite said in his quiet manner.


The three-gaited horse, Hytone King, was one of the horses

Hite showed while still a teenager. The horse had a successful

career under the ownership of the late Dr. C. L. Brown

of New Orleans, La.


Early on, Hite apprenticed with the late, great Bill Harney at the famed Missouri Stables in St. Louis, Mo. In 1949, the late Art Simmons moved to Mexico, Mo., from Omaha, Neb. Hite worked briefly with him before the late Bill Cunningham sent him to work with the late Clyde Sims at Missouri Stables. He remained there until entering the Army in 1951. Two years later, he returned, working from the large barn adjacent to Forest Park until they sold out.


It’s been 47 years since Hite opened his first private training stable, Breezy Point Stables in Chesterfield, Mo., on the western side of St. Louis County. Among his early clients was the late Sondra Moll of Emerald View Farm.


“Sondra began riding Saddle Horses with me,” Hite said, explaining Moll was a teenager at the time. “She started with an unregistered Saddlebred pleasure horse, Alton, Gypsy Dream Lad, a bay walk-trot gelding, and Miss Rippey Belle, a chestnut five-gaited mare.”


When attending a sale at Kansas City, Hite suffered the first of several injuries that could have ended his life, or at least his career. An elevator in the parking garage failed to stop at the top floor, breaking his lower pelvis. He recuperated at his family home. After his injuries healed, he again went to work with Simmons.


Hite’s long-time friend, Saddlebred breeder and world’s champion futurity colt exhibitor Jan McGlaughlin of Elgin, Ill., spoke of those days. “Jimmie had been something of a partier in his early days. He once told me, ‘Boy that Art Simmons has a workhouse there.’ I don’t think Simmons left much time [or energy] for that [partying] kind of life.”


Hite’s mother was ill during these years. He lived with and helped care for her until her death. In the meantime, Moll had purchased property in O’Fallon, Mo., and established Emerald View Farm.


“Sondra had enough horses and thought she needed a Saddle Horse person there,” McGlaughlin said. “After his mother died, Jimmie was ready for a change.”


He joined Moll’s operation at Emerald View Farm. Ciampoli already was part of the team. Horses such as CH Forever Remembered, and his full brother, Someone’s Secret, Crebilly’s Delightful Fortune, Belladonna and the equitation star, Vanity’s Sparkling Coin, passed through their hands. In addition to Moll’s stock, the late Danny Breakbill’s horses, including the parade horses Thousands Cheered and Sterling Performance, showed from the farm.


“I worked for Sondra from the ’70s until 1981, when we moved back to Chesterfield,” Hite said, explaining he had leased a barn at Ruth Pfeffer’s Sea Beauty Farm. “In 1989, I purchased the property in Wentzville where Max and I are today.”


The Wentzville, Mo., farm includes 25 stalls

along with indoor and outdoor arenas.


Both Hite and Ciampoli are quiet men. According to some who knew them in their younger days, such wasn’t always the case.


McGlaughlin is one repository of Hite, Ciampoli and Emerald View lore. He spent a lot of time at the farm after he finished college in 1973. “Jimmie had trained horses for Sondra in St. Louis when she was a young girl. He had straightened up from those party days before he went to Emerald View.


“He can tell the funniest stories. I remember being at the Ft. Worth stock show one year,” McGlaughlin said, explaining that show horses performed between rodeo events. “There were bulls in the bucking chutes. Saddle Horse spectators and some cowboys stood behind a rope in the arena during our classes. Jimmie’s young harness horse ran off as hard as he could. At one turn, Jimmie and the seat went flying out; the horse tore the harness and buggy to pieces. Maybe 200 people stood in front of the bucking chute. I could see cowboys running up them. Finally, people caught the horse and took it out, dragging the buggy in pieces. Here came Jimmie, walking down the center of the ring carrying the buggy seat like a crown price would carry his pillow. People kept finding pieces of the buggy and harness and dropping them in a bucket near the tack room.


“I’ve always considered Jimmie a very talented person. His association with Max developed at Emerald View,” McGlaughlin said.


Ciampoli actually worked with Moll’s cutting and reining horses at Emerald View before Hite came on board.


“As the other breeds phased out, Max went with Jimmie. That’s where he learned much of what he knows,” McGlaughlin said.


Ciampoli’s road to professional horsemanship was a little different than Hite’s. His parents asked their son if he wanted to go riding when he was four years old. He received some of his early training at Missouri Stables, with Irma and Kenny Rogers.


“Irma was famous for teaching kids to ride. She patented a double saddle in which she would ride behind us,” Ciampoli added. “She was a great woman.”


At nine, his mother took him to Ruth Palmer. Palmer calls the then-youngster “very shy, but talented.”


Ciampoli admits to showing equitation from the time he was six-years-old until his early teens. “Mother used to watch me with a hand over her eyes. I was the all-round boy champion of St. Louis one year. The trophy was taller than I was. I did pretty good as a kid.”


Ciampoli finished high school in St. Louis. “I realized I didn’t have the money [to be an owner,] that’s why I turned professional. I began my career at Emerald View, learning about cutting horses from the late Mel Sharron [the then trainer-in-residence.] At night, we worked Saddle Horses. After Jimmie came to Emerald View and Mel left, I went to work for him.”


Ciampoli stayed with Hite for five years before briefly dropping out of the business. He came back to work ponies with Gib Marcucci during what he calls “the Busch years of Apollo Sand, Terry Jean’s Souvenir and Pride’s Starmaster (Stormin’ Norman.) I worked for Sam Brannon for a year and then joined Jeff McClean in Quincy, Ill.”


“I’d seen him at shows but neither of us thought we’d get along,” McClean said. “I told him, ‘I need help and you need a job.’ We got along great.”


The McClean years, the early 1980s, were during his and Ciampoli’s bachelor days. “Max had a little wild streak; he was funny and a partying fool,” McClean said. “He was a dandy, working hard and playing hard. He could be real funny at shows. We ended up being best friends, and still are.”


When Ciampoli met Laura Carter, the lady he would marry, his life took a dramatic turn. He followed her to St. Louis and went to work for Hite. He and Laura have been married for 22 years and have one son, Dillon, age 13. Attending Dillon’s hockey games and other activities takes up most of Ciampoli’s away-from-the-barn time.


“Max has worked his way from far left field – and had to jump the fence to get to left field,” McClean said in his humorous way. “Max is pretty much self-taught with horses. Jimmie taught him well. When Jimmie got hurt [about five years ago,] he stepped up bigger and better than ever. He had (and has) very good fundamentals.


“Max is a good hand with a horse, and is a good pony guy. I see a lot of pony stuff – the motion, their being bright and brilliant and reared back. He puts motion on them like a pony.”


As Ciampoli made his transition from far left field to the proverbial pitcher’s mound, a lot of good horses and ponies passed through his hands. In 1998, he brought out a three-year-old that would put his name in headlines. Edward and Brenda Stiften purchased Callaway’s Buttons And Bows as a two-year-old. Ciampoli prepared her for the show ring.


The trainer debuted the sporty mare in the UPHA Three-Gaited class at the Chapter 5 Horse Show, winning their first time out. At Louisville, they were third out of 14 in the Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Stake. By the time Kansas City rolled around, they were on the money, catching judges’ and spectators’ attention. The following spring, Mary and Jeff McClean added the mare to the Golden Creek Farm collection.


Ciampoli’s rides on Callaway’s Buttons And Bows

 in the three-year-old and junior three-gaited divisions

brought him national attention.


“Max [and Jimmie] sell a lot of horses and ponies before they get to the ring. I’m very proud of Max – for being a fine horseman and a stand-up guy,” Jeff McClean said.


Trainer Mike Roberts has known Hite for decades. During the years he taught school, Roberts put a horse with Hite at his St. Louis facility.


“Dale and Glenda [Pugh] didn’t have room for a gaited horse I’d bought; they suggested I go to Jimmie. I used to spend every weekend in the world working horses with them up there. He let me ride some,” Roberts said, adding Hite’s barn was two hours closer to him than the Pugh’s.


“Jimmie really, really was a good rider and not a gimmick horse trainer at all. He could get a horse motivated without its getting out from under him. And he had a real good way with amateur riders. They could relate to him and what he told him to do.”


Roberts always is a great repository for stories. Those often-unprintable tales he tells of Moll and Breakbill’s antics often have Hite being dragged in their mischief. “I’m sure he shudders at a lot of things, but he went along with them anyway.”


Few customers know Hite better than Linda Roos. She has been his customer “forever, first at Westwood Stables probably when I was in high school.


“He was a handsome young man and always very nice,” she said. “I thought he was very attractive to the girls and someone you can trust. He never got mad at you and would help you with anything with a horse. I do trust Jimmie and think a lot of people think of him that way.”


Roos has had numerous horses with Hite and Ciampoli over the years. From 1990 through 1996, she and CH Goodnight Irene were fixtures in the winner’s circle. When the mare was sold, she bought a young horse. They called him Cranston – for Lamont Cranston, title character in the hit radio show for which he was named: The Shadow Knows. She and Hite selected the future world’s champion together. Today Roos shows CH Treasured Memories, a three-gaited show pleasure mare that won all but one class last season.


Hite showed CH The Shadow Knows for owner Linda Roos

 in the UPHA Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure Championship

 at the 1997 American Royal.


Going to country horse shows remains Roos’s favorite memories of her days with Hite. “We had a group of kids that hung around together. Sondra [Moll] was one of them. We’d just go all over the place and had a good time. Jimmie always was calm and wondered why I was so nervous every time. He’s never like that. If you don’t do well, he always has some kind compliment or saying. He never gets mad at you; I like that. We couldn’t help it if we made a mistake; we didn’t do it on purpose.”


She concedes Hite has no silly side. “He has a very dry sense of humor, kind of like Art [Simmons] used to be. He comes out with real dry remarks that are funny.”


The barn where Hite and Ciampoli are today is a quite different than when they first worked together. With 25 stalls, indoor and outdoor arenas and more than adequate help, it’s a great place for trainers and clients. The facility remains full.


Customers come from as far away as Arizona, Florida, Kentucky and Texas. Most others are from Missouri. At the time this article was written, these clients were part of the Hite/Ciampoli team: Katie Bowen and her daughter, Brooke Bowen of Missouri; Elena Breeden and her parents, Robin and Melissa of Kentucky; Texans Harold and Inna Denton; Kryne Diaz and her husband, of Missouri; Paul and Becky Dieckmann, of Missouri; Nancy Ingracia and her daughter, Teresa Montgomery, of Missouri; Missourians Vic and Trisha Jones; Missourians Al and Jeanie Miero; Gerald and Barbara Miller from Florida; Amber Mitchell of Louisiana; Lynne and Craig Moeller and their children Katie, Catherine and John; John Owens of Arizona; John and Linda Roos of Missouri;  and Missourian Sandy Sedler.


There have been other changes. Tina Glosemeyer joined the staff nine years ago in an assistant trainer role. More recently, Brooke Hovey Graves, who showed equitation and performance with Marsha and Gary Garone, has come on board as riding instructor.


An accident five years ago forced Hite to slow down. While he no longer rides, he runs the barn, ensuring that everything is on track. He’s a great ground man, who watches every horse and rider, helping combinations perfect their efforts.


One seldom thinks of Hite and Ciampoli in connection with equitation riders. Yet a little over two years ago, Lynne Moeller brought her daughters, Katie and Caroline, to ride under their direction.


“Max told us he’s not an equitation teacher,” said Moeller, who showed successfully in the Carolinas in her younger days. “Equitation isn’t just about sitting up and looking pretty. He and Jimmie know a lot about horsemanship; they’re totally into leg aids and that kind of stuff. They started Katie in equitation and taught Caroline to ride.


“Jimmie is very interested in the girls. He gives both girls lessons and helped teach Caroline her diagonals. He always gives her Starbursts if she’s had a good ride,” Moeller continued. “Max put Caroline in the ring for her very first walk and trot class ever.”



Ciampoli helped Caroline Moeller on Lady Gabriella get ready
for her victory pass after winning Division I  of the Saddle Seat

Equitation 10 and Under Walk and Trot competition.


Now that Graves is on board, the girls take a lesson from her on a school horse. Afterwards, each rides her own show mount. This season, Katie is paired with He’s My Beau; Caroline again will show Lady Gabriella.


If you want to know about a horseman, ask those close to him. Judy Werner of Redwing Farm has known Hite for decades.


“Jimmie is just a fixture in the St. Louis area. The first time I ever saw him he was a kid showing a gaited horse. He’s an old-time horseman, and I’m sure some of what goes on today amazes him. He’s brought Max along the same way. They do a lot to support the smaller show circuit along with the bigger ones and they do very well. They have good amateur riders, and Max is wonderful with a futurity colt. He does a great job with those.


“They are two trainers who tend to their knitting,” Werner added. “They have a full barn all the time. That has to be because of Jimmie’s maintaining a great work ethic and a great group of customers through the years.”


Trainer Mark Hulse and Ciampoli have known each other since each was in his 20’s. He has watched Hite since he was at Breezy Point Stables in the 1960s and 70s.


“When I was a kid, I remember seeing Jimmie show at Bowling Green. He had two girl riders on a couple of walk-trot horses in different classes. Over the course of the next two nights, Jimmie showed those horses. It was the first time I realized how much motion a horse could have when it was raised up, picked up. Jimmie is an awfully good horseman and a good man who’s had a hard life.


“Buttons And Bows was Max’s first really nice horse. The last few years, he has brought out good colts and has worked himself into being one of the better colt trainers in the industry. They’ve both been hard working horse trainers for a long, long time. They’re both as good horsemen as there are. They go to bed and wake up thinking about horses. I respect that a lot.”


Jerry Miller lived in Missouri seven years ago when he first brought Kaye’s Air Time to Hite’s barn. The team has trained Kelly’s Santana, the road pony Unique Star Attraction and High Time’s Northern Son, the 2006 ASR National Futurity Three-Gaited Reserve World’s Champion and Reserve UPHA Three-Gaited Classic Grand Champion.


“Max can not only get inside a horse’s head, but he can get them to like him. He grabs their attention,” said Miller, who now lives in Florida. “There’s a magic chemistry between him and a horse. Max is a very horse-oriented person. He knows when an animal has the potential to realize a very good performance. He doesn’t like to take a horse to a show if it’s not doing well. He is such a perfectionist that you gain confidence in him. Max is a very practical type person. He’s very realistic about what he looks at, what he sees. Rarely does he overestimate a horse. He has high aspirations but takes a realistic point of view. He doesn’t oversell a situation and doesn’t undersell it either. Rather, he calls it what it is. The customers have a lot of faith in him.”


Miller says Ciampoli is “one of the most non-social persons you will ever meet. I took him to the [Kentucky] Derby three or four years ago. He told me, ‘I don’t get out much, Jerry. I see horses; I go to bed; I see horses again.’ I’ve promised him that as long as he’s getting these performances out of these horses, I will take him to the Derby every year.”


One Derby experience is among Miller’s favorite memories. “Max just cracked me up. We were all betting on different horses and he won the trifecta [correctly picking the first three places of a race]. After that, he thought every time a trifecta came along he had to bet it. That day was like putting a little kid in an ice cream shop.”


Al Miero had horses with Hite since the Emerald View days. “Their honesty and decency attracts me. Jimmie is very honest and straightforward, with a lot of integrity. I’ve enjoyed seeing Max get a lot more recognition the last few years. He’s been around a long time and produced a number of good horses, but it seems he is just getting noticed.”


Many people know Jimmie Hite, but none better than the younger trainer he has nurtured through the years. “He lives for this. He really isn’t Jimmie away from the barn. My family and I and the customers are Jimmie’s family,” Ciampoli said, explaining Hite has remained a bachelor. “He keeps everything and has a scrapbook full of memories. He built a barn out here with an apartment in the barn. He pretty much lives for these horses.


“In the Emerald View days, I wished I could ride a horse as well as he could,” Ciampoli said. “He was a real good hand, from the basics up and could finish a colt really well.


“I’m truly happy about the opportunities he has given me. We’ve been blessed with some awfully good clients, some nice people through the years. Jimmie’s always been good with people, with keeping customers happy.”


Hite also has been a good ‘Saddle Horse citizen.’ The smaller shows on the Missouri circuit have benefited from his and his customers’ largesse. He was inducted into the St. Louis Charity Horse Show Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Missouri State Fair Hall of Fame in 2003.

Hite was honored for his 50 years of showing at the

Missouri State Fair by being inducted into its Hall of Fame.

 Ciampoli joined him for the celebration.

Hite is modest about such success. “I’ve always been able to make a living at this. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do is to be with horses.”

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