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Jackie and Joan Hammond - Growing Up With Horses

by Tim Doll

Regardless of the differences of opinion, likes and dislikes, or simply agreeing to disagree, the connection between mother and daughter is something very special.

There seems to be that common thread that joins them through thick and thin, highs and lows, good times and bad. A connection between most mothers and daughters is pretty obvious. For Jackie and Joan Hammond, they share a very common love for horses.

Jackie and Joan are not so different than any other mother and daughter pair involved in the horse industry. Whether it’s the draft horses Jackie once rode as a child, to the Morgans they rode and the American Saddlebreds which have a very special place in their hearts, horses are a big part of who they are.

The support these two ladies offer to one another is a bond never-ending. Jackie and Joan do not compete against one another, but be assured that when the in gate opens, or a new baby horse is about to make its entrance into the world, or one needs the other’s help, it’s always there, ready, willing and able.

Foremost in Jackie’s life is her family. She is really not so different than any other mother. Joan values family as well. But it is their extended family, the horses that have been very much apart of their lives and always will be, that dominate their lives. They just wouldn’t have it any other way.

Joan’s River Bend Farm is quaint, unassuming, but hosts everything Joan or any horsewoman needs to get the job done. Just outside the original barn which houses seven stalls, the original home sits right at its doors. The log home fits nicely into the landscape. As time went on, Joan added another barn with several more stalls, a very large indoor arena, breeding area, foaling stalls and the farm itself is adorned with paddocks, pastures and all the comforts of home for her youngsters, show stars, broodmares and even Jackie’s fine harness star, who occasionally visits the pastures.

Once you leave Joan’s farm, heading north on S.R.68, you will come to Hyde Rd., turn left, and you are at what Joan calls River Bend II, the original home, built by Jackie and Phil Hammond, just prior to them being married several years ago. This lovely home is set amidst 200 acres, with manicured pastures, turn out sheds for the visitors, as well as Joan’s horses, when the low lying pastures succumbs to heavy rains. Regardless of the weather, both farms offer a wonderful, serene and caring place for the horses to call home.

What is it about horses that get people so intertwined with them? In both of these ladies’ instances, they pretty much had horses in their lives at an early age. When these two sit down, one can just hear the excitement in their voices when they begin talking about horses, their own or otherwise.

Jackie was born in Springfield, Ohio in the 1930s when things were really tough and life was a worry during the Depression.

"My uncle had a farm outside of Troy, Ohio, northeast of Dayton. I would spend my weekends there and most of the summers. My parents, Albert and Hortense Nickel, didn’t seem to mind me going there all the time. I got lots of enjoyment out of it. I would ride the draft horses (Belgians). My cousins and I would ride these horses all over the place. I guess that was the beginning of my love for horses. I would also do some farm chores, help bale hay, etc, I believe I was around 10 years old."

Eventually, her uncle purchased a pony for her and her cousins to ride. "I remember my cousins getting bucked off all the time," Jackie said, neglecting to mention how many times she was thrown.

When Jackie was old enough to get a job, she took a spot as a candy striper at the Community Hospital in Springfield. "Most of my duties included bed pans and delivering mail," Jackie said, emphasizing how much she disliked the job.

Jackie’s father, Albert, worked at the telephone company and taught Jackie how to operate the switchboard. The hospital found out about her new learned abilities and it wasn’t long until she was running the switchboard at the hospital. "There wasn’t much help at the hospital back then because the nurses were heading to war. I operated the switchboard, sometimes all night. I did from time to time wonder what I was going to do in my life, professionally, and to support myself," Jackie said.

Jackie gave her view of the Depression during her younger years. "I knew how bad it was. At the phone company, instead of laying people off, they would cut everyone’s hours so no one would get laid off. I remember Dad would work odd jobs, painting houses, doing whatever he could find to bring home extra money."

After high school, Jackie entered Wittenberg University. She worked for Agaloy Tubing, in Springfield during that time as well. She had to go to summer classes in order to get enough credits she needed to graduate.

While at Agaloy Tubing, the boss’s secretary had two five-gaited horses at her residence and a pony. Jackie was asked if she would come out and ride the pony.

"Being around those two five-gaited horses was the first time I guess I was around ‘real horses’ so to speak. I eventually got to show these two gaited horses at small shows. I’m not sure how good I was, but it was fun. That might have been my real introduction to the American Saddlebred and the show ring."

Upon completion of college, Jackie received an AB degree in business and a major in accounting. Shortly after college, she had gone to work for a bakery accounting firm.

Jackie came home from work one day and her mother, Hortense, informed her she had received a call from Wittenberg Job Placement, and they had an opening for a bursar at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It was here she would meet her future husband.

"My husband, Phil, and I eventually got engaged and married, and as time would have it, we were fortunate to have two children; daughter Joan, and son Jim."

Phil spent time in the Navy and also spent time working on the farm. He eventually took over the family business, Drierite, once his father retired. Phil’s father was also a chemistry professor at Antioch College and purchased the farm where Jackie calls home.

Although Phil was not really into horses, he soon began taking some part in them with the purchase of their first horse; a mare by the name of Martina Perkins. "She was wild, very, very wild! Neither Phil or his brother, Bob, knew how to ride so all they did was race one another and run those horses as fast as they would go," Jackie said.

The mare eventually had three offspring. Her first was Tiny Bell Peavine. She later had an offspring who would become known as Snow Flurry.

"Among many reasons, the reason I started going with Phil was because he had Saddlebreds. But that’s not the main reason. Phil wasn’t really crazy about horses. I really wasn’t aware of that at the time. My son, Jim, isn’t really crazy about horses either. Oh, sometimes when his daughter, Katie, shows, he will go watch her; she’s a third generation. But Phil had this Saddlebred that he would attempt to long line for me, so I could get on and ride. I am really surprised that we didn’t get killed. However, Phil was so into boating, and I remember we would go up to Lake Erie, all I did was throw up. I guess he felt sorry for me and that’s where this Saddlebred came into our lives."

As time progressed, Eli (Sonny) Long came to work for Paul Field of High View Stables when it was close to the now Upper Valley Mall in Springfield, Ohio. Jackie and Joan would go to the barn and take some riding lessons. "Joan and I would take these lessons and Eli kept telling us we were doing a good job, looked good. Another instructor who played a big part in our lives, the late B.J. Taylor, told us we were terrible and looked awful. Come to find out, she was right," laughed Jackie.

Eventually, Jack Nevitt came to work for High View. "My Uncle Bob was a cow farmer; he would come to the farm about everyday and ask Jack if he had a stall. Jack would roll his eyes, and tell Bob he didn’t have any. Here Bob, with overalls on and looking a little shabby, sort of gave Jack the impression not to bother with him. On one particular day, Bob arrived at the farm and asked Jack if he had any stalls. Catching Jack off guard, Jack said ‘yes’ and Bob told him he would be back in a few minutes. Well, soon here came an old trailer pulling up in front of the barn, and out came the head and neck of this filly and it took Jack’s breath away. Her name was Snow Flurry and as a three-year-old, Jack put her into training."

It wasn’t long after when Phillipa Sledge purchased her. But before she sold to Sledge, Bob brought her home for the winter, as many people did back in those days. Bob wasn’t a great rider, so "when we would take little trips out into the fields, wherever there was a wet spot, you would find Bob’s butt marks where the mare had thrown him off," Jackie said.

Eventually Jackie and Joan began to take real riding lessons from the late B.J. Taylor. They brought home a horse named Mr. Malarky, and Joan was so in love with the horse she would walk all around him and under his belly. Jackie didn’t deem him very trustworthy. "I don’t guess I was afraid, I probably didn’t know any better," Joan said.

"Someone told us that the ideal horse for a youngster was a Morgan," Jackie continued. "So, we purchased a Morgan for her; a three-year-old Morgan, for a seven-year-old girl. We bought River Bend’s Sparhawk from Max Brittingham."

Joan detailed her side of the story. "My earliest recollection of a horse was when Uncle Bob had a mare named Tiny Bell Peavine. She is now in the Broodmare Hall of Fame. I would beg Mom and Dad to take me out to his farm to ride her, but to no avail; all I got to do was pet her."

At the ripe old age of five, with Jackie’s determination, B.J. Taylor agreed to give Joan lessons, although five was younger than B.J. liked to start a rider. "I remember B.J. running beside me, helping me hold the reins, while I attempted to canter," Joan said. "I am amazed, looking at it now, how B.J. could do that. I guess that was really my first introduction in how to ride properly. I learned a great deal from her."

Joan continued, "I think I was about seven years old when Dad decided to build a two stall barn here at the farm. But only two stalls. We could never have more than two horses. There was a method to his madness, so to speak. It seemed like he held us to that forever. I showed my Morgan "Sparky’ and won with him at the age of 20, and he passed away at the age of 29. He sure was a good horse. I learned a lot from him; so did Mom."

When Joan was 12 or 13, her parents would drop her off at B.J.’s on their way up to Lake Erie.

"B.J. would take me to a horse show, in fact, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I showed at the very first Twin Rivers Horse Show in Delaware, Ohio. I was the only rider at the time and I remember B.J. would always tell it like it was, no holds bared. For a 10 minute class, I would get the wrath and her two hour lecture on what I had done wrong. I really learned from her," Joan said.

"She taught me how to ride correctly, clean tack, buggies, clean stalls, prepare a horse for the ring, bathe, wash tails, hooves, etc. From her, you learned it all."

Joan reflects back. "When I was a sophomore in high school, a girl by the name of Carol Weiland, who had horses with Lee Newton at the time, asked me if I wanted a job. By then High View Stables was lost in a tragic fire, and the new barn was just up the road from Mom, Dad, Jim and I. Paul Field had moved the school horses to the new location, and I started giving a few riding lessons then. It wasn’t long until Dad had leased me a barn, near Bryan Park, close to here. It had an arena and stalls. Dad really wasn’t keen on having too many horses around here. By that time, some of the kids I was instructing started buying Morgans. I had around eight or 10 horses. I would stop on the way to school and feed when I had gotten my driver’s license."

When asked if she felt she was qualified to teach, Joan replied, "Oh, yes, I thought at that age I knew everything. At school’s end, I would go up to High View, where Mike Van Dyke was trainer along with Cliff Moxley. By the end of the day, they were tired of riding and working horses, so I would get on those horses they were in the process of gaiting. I had paid close attention to what they did, and how they did it, so I picked it up little by little.

"Gaiting colts just fascinated me. B.J. taught me all the fundamentals, all about care, preparing and showing horses. I felt like I really got a leg up on gaiting them via Mike Van Dyke.

"Between high school and college, I went to work for Patty Kent, then Ellis Waggoner in Kentucky," Joan continued. "I remember Dad came down to get me, brought me back to college, put me in my dorm room and locked the door. I was attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I majored in chemistry; he really wanted me to do that, so I did. Upon graduation, I benefited from my degree and went to work for Monsanto. I was with them for six years."

Joan, after her first year of college, went to work for Sugar Run Morgan Farm where David Hadley and John Hufferd worked and trained.

"I was working for Sugar Run Farm. I remember going to the Morgan Gold Cup with 20 horses, we showed so many in hand. I saved my money. I managed to save up $500. I headed to Tattersalls where the Warrick County 4-H Club led yearlings through. One particular filly caught my eye. I bid her up to $500, but there was someone else bidding as well and I couldn’t go any higher. I looked over to see who had purchased the filly and it was Mom! Can you believe that?"

Jackie said, "I think I bid up to $700, and the auctioneer looked over at me and told me if you bid $1,000, you’ll get her quicker, so I did! Her name was Jewel’s Main Event. She was by Stonewall’s Main Event and out of Little Jewel."

"I took her back to school with me," Joan said. "I broke her, came home and took the jog cart back, and taught her to drive."

Joan finally got her broke, and in her two-year-old season, showed her in fine harness. "I took her to River Ridge, Cincinnati and the Ohio State Fair." She headed back to college, took the filly with her, gaited her and did well in the show ring. "I did this all on my own. I didn’t really have anyone to count on, and by that time I still thought I knew it all."

Somehow Joan had heard that the late Walter Murphy and son Bobby were putting a horse named Burr Oak’s Gray Boy through Tattersalls. According to Joan, he had been turned out for a couple of years. "I just loved him, I had always admired this horse. I was finally out of college and at Monsanto making good money. I would eventually transfer to the St. Louis branch of the company. So, I made a deal for him, and bought him for $2,000. I think Mom and Dad may have helped me some with this purchase. I went up to Murphy’s farm in Urbana, Ohio, rode him all over, started to get off and Walter said, ‘Get back on, ride him, get to know all about him. Get the feel for him.’ When I was transferred to Monsanto, I took him with me. I had him until he passed away at the ripe of age of 20."

When Joan headed to St. Louis, with her two-horse trailer and Burr Oak’s Gray Boy and homebred Vanity’s Prince Phillip on board, she had to leave Jewel’s Main Event behind. Jackie said, "I might have given a little money to Joan for her, so I sent her up to B.J.’s, and I showed her in five-gaited pleasure. We took her to River Ridge and she racked up a storm, but when they asked for a walk, you better be prepared because she would immediately begin to walk. I did pretty well with her. I remember the late Helen Crabtree was judging. This was also about the time the five-gaited pleasure division was getting off the ground. She came up to me, and told me this was one of the nicest horses she had seen in this division."

As if showing horses isn’t enough, Joan stands the stallion Superior Successor and gives much credit to Merrill Murray for the top honors he took him to at Louisville over several years. Many other horses call River Bend Farm home and have lived to be well over 20 years. As Joan said, "I guess you could call this place a retirement home. Both Mom and I are fortunate to be able to provide that. Some of the other horses who have graced our pastures are CH Forty Carats, Captain Planet, Alabama, Firestorm, Callaway’s Raffles, Heiridescent, On My List, Connected, Superior One and CH Deceptive Odds."

Joan’s sales have been pretty brisk as well. Captain Kaos, Superior One, Sweet Jubilee, have been sold, but as Joan said, "I’ll keep raising them, because you know, I love anything that racks.

"I have been pretty fortunate with the horses I have raised. I have done well with them in the show ring. I love to bring a baby into this world, break it to lead, ride, drive; there is a personal satisfaction to that. And when I sell a horse, I can back it 100 percent; nobody knows that horse better than me. I can tell the new owner what works, and they continue with that. I have had people call me and ask me if I have any more of these homebreds to sell. That’s a real compliment, you know!

"It is nice if people want to go out and buy a ready made horse. But, to me, the shear joy of bringing one up from scratch and making it your own is reward enough. I wish more people would experience that instead of what I call a quick fix, which more times than not, doesn’t work."

Jackie was asked how she felt about her daughter’s success. "I’ve actually loved every minute of it. As a mom, I am just so proud of what she can do and the accomplishments she has made and hopefully will continue to make. I encourage my two kids, Joan and Jim, in whatever they do, whatever avenue they have chosen, I support them. They both have given Phil and me such joy. What kind of mom would I be if I didn’t give them my support?

"Although I have never been as heavily involved in the horse industry to the degree Joan is, I certainly don’t love my horses any less. I love to show. I don’t show any more, but occasionally, I do set out on the trails throughout the farm and enjoy myself. I have a most wonderful fine harness mare I have shown with great success. Her name is One’s Dizzy Lizzy. Joan encouraged me to go look at her when she was at Joe Cloud’s Yankee Stables. She is a real show horse; she likes herself and so do I! I remember the first show season I had her, somehow my two children saw to it that I showed her at Louisville. I did; I think we got fourth place out of a nice class of horses. The amateur and ladies fine harness divisions are tough."

Jackie continued, "I showed her the next year there to a fifth place, and went to the American Royal and earned a fourth. I love the fine harness division, but the classes are too short. It takes me longer to clean the buggy and harness! I also showed a pony in pleasure driving and would sometimes show in the road pony division as well. The pony’s name was Cockleburr’s High Flight. He was great, great fun."

"Mom is pretty game," Joan said. "She really got into driving that pony. She loves to go fast, like when she mows the pastures."

Both Jackie and Joan are pretty addicted to horses. Perhaps in slightly different ways, but the love and devotion they have for them is deeply seeded. It’s a love and devotion they have for family as well.

The story of Jackie and Joan Hammond is perhaps not so different than any other mother and daughter, however, the horse has strengthened this team from home, to the show ring, the winner’s circle, and who knows what other magic the horse will play in their lives.

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