Skip to content

The Passing Of A Great One...Cherry’s Dream Boy



Whether it be human athletes or show horses, there are only an exceptional few individuals who can reach a peak of greatness and then sustain that level over and over, year after year. One such individual was Cherry’s Dream Boy. When retired at the American Royal in 1989 he went down in history as one of the greatest long tails of all time. Nearly 15 years later he left his best friend, Mary Gaylord McClean, at the age of 27. His status as arguably the greatest has only strengthened.

Bred by Oliver Cherry of Murray, Ky., Cherry’s Dream Boy was a son of the great Carnation’s King and out of the mare Sun Jewel. Upon the recommendation of legendary pony trainer Lyle Hartman who had shown Carnations’ King to four world’s championships, Dream Boy was sent to John Shea as a coming two year old.

“He [Oliver Cherry] had one broodmare and he always bred her to Carnation’s King,” said Shea. “He didn’t know me at the time but Lyle had told him to send Dream Boy to me. I sold him to Eva Clifton as a three-year-old and then Mary [Gaylord McClean] bought him from Eva as a six-year-old. He spent his whole show career here with me.”

According to Shea, Dream Boy had a world of talent but the stallion with the long white tail was slow to mature.

“He was five or six before we really got him where we wanted,” recalled Shea. “We knew it was there, it just took a while to get everything just right.”

And when they did it was all over for the competition. In 1983 Dream Boy won Harness Pony Championships at Phoenix, Pin Oak, Rock Creek, the Illinois State Fair, Minnesota State Fair, and the American Royal. This was a green stallion taking on all challengers.

Showing was what Cherry’s Dream Boy was all about. He had a beautiful bend in his neck and he went as high as any pony you’ve ever seen. Just when you didn’t think he could possibly go any higher he did! During a period from 1985 to 1989 he won hundreds of championships in 15 different states. He was the UPHA Harness Pony Of The Year from 1986 to 1989; the Harness Pony Grand Champion at Lexington Junior League four consecutive years; the Harness Pony Grand Champion at Baton Rouge five consecutive years; the Harness Pony Stallion/Gelding World’s Champion from 1985 to ‘88; and the Harness Pony World’s Grand Champion from 1986 to 1989.

"We stayed on the road. I think we went to every horse show in the country,” said Mary Gaylord McClean. “We’d start at Tampa and finish at Kansas City. Some years I think we made 20 shows and he was the same each and every time we went to the ring. I’ve never seen anything like him. Today’s horses and ponies are lucky to show a handful of times in a year.”

Retired at the American Royal in 1989, Cherry’s Dream Boy then called the lush pastures of Golden Creek Farm in Simpsonville, Ky., home where he was again a unique pony. Dream Boy was pasture bred and had a way with “his girls.” He would herd them and watch over them like no other. Foals were also born right there in the same field. He loved his kids.

“We were best friends,” McClean fondly remembered. “He loved me and I love him. He really trusted me. I’d go on walks and call him and he’d come running over to me like a dog would. He was so kind.

“This weekend at Bud Willimon’s birthday party several people had heard he died and were talking about him to Jeff [McClean] and I. I thought the neatest thing was Jeff told Nelson [Green], ‘When I first came here I wondered why Mary had four of the same pictures of Dream Boy out in the same room. It turned out it wasn’t four of the same pictures they were from each year he won the stake at Louisville but there wasn’t an ounce of difference between them.’ That sums him up. He was so consistent, so wonderful to show and breed.”

Bred to be a champion, Dream Boy passed those same qualities on to his get. A few of his notables included Masterbilt, Shamask, Royal Canadian, Bill Bailey, Dreamaire, Steppenwolf, Atta Boy, Belle Starr, Miss Bluegrass, Dream Boy’s Magic, Game Boy, Dream Machine, Sam Sara, Tatinger, Match Maker, Cherry Royale as well as the breeding stallions Cherry and Mastercraft (the sire of World’s Grand Champion Bruschetta).

Looking back on the career of this personable star of the show ring and breeding shed, John Shea summed it up. “He was the best. His willingness to do things and his ability to do it, made him the best.”

More Stories

  • **Updated Event Cancellations

    Saddle Horse Report will provide daily updates to the list of cancelled and postponed horse events. Read More
  • Ten Years Ago - Pin Oak Charity

    Looking back, ten years ago at Pin Oak Charity…While the tradition of Pin Oak Charity was on hiatus in 2020, let’s take a trip back to the 2010 Pin Oak Charity… Read More
  • Ten Years Ago - Raleigh Spring Premier

    Looking back, ten years ago at Raleigh Spring Premier…While we missed being at Raleigh Spring Premier last week, let’s reminisce about some great memories from 2010… Read More
  • ASAW Celebrates their Wisconsin History

    The American Saddlebred Association of Wisconsin (ASAW) held their awards banquet on March 7, 2020 at the Delafield Inn Hotel in Delafield, Wisconsin where they celebrated their high point winners for the 2019 show season. Read More
  • Latest Issue YIR 2019

    Read More
  • Joint Leadership Council Presidents Partner for Horsemen's Relief Fund

    I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. We are experiencing threats to our health and economy that have not been experienced in this country for more than 100 years. It is a scary time for all of us and a threat to the horse industry we all love... Read More
  • USEF Update on COVID-19: Suspension Extended

    We are all anxious for equestrian sport to start up again and for our families and friends to return to their normal lives pre-COVID-19 Pandemic. We also understand the financial pain that this is having on so many in our industry. We, too, at USEF are feeling that pain. However, we are not through this yet. The pandemic continues to cause unprecedented impact throughout the world.... Read More
  • 2019 Year In Review Completed

    The 2019 Year In Review, our 26th edition, is at the printer and soon it will be in your homes and offices. Devoted to preserving the history of the show horse industry, the Year In Review is once again filled with beautiful pages that present the highlights of last year’s shows... Read More
  • Joint Leadership Council Works Together to Support Barns During COVID-19

    The Joint Leadership Council (JLC) is coming together to unite our efforts to support our memberships and professionals in the show horse community from the impacts of COVID-19. The JLC is a group comprised of individuals appointed by AHHS, AMHA, ASHA, ARHPA and UPHA, who work together towards the concerns of the trotting breeds. Read More
  • NEMHS Cover Contest

    Heads up for an exciting opportunity to be the “face” of the 81st New England Regional Morgan Horse Show.  NEMHS is the oldest Morgan Show in the world and we invite ALL youth 21 and under to submit art work that will become eligible to be showcased on the cover of the 2020 NEMHS Horse Show Program. The theme of your work should focus on the special relationship between Youth and Morgan horses. Read More