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Phil Price - From a Road of Success, to a Road Less Traveled and Back Again!



 

Phil Price

 

by Tim Doll

 

Little do any of us know as youngsters where our lives will take us or how complicated it may become. We do know that as we grow our lives become part of a much larger picture, sort of like a puzzle. The pieces don’t always fit or work just as we want but eventually the pieces begin to fall into place and in one single instant our destiny takes on even greater shape.  

         

Then as we enter a time when we think we know where our life is headed, suddenly a piece in the puzzle becomes missing. Through time, patience, understanding and nurturing we manage to get back on track and on our way to finishing the puzzle. Piece by piece, step by step we grow!

         

The life of Phil Price has had many pieces of the puzzle put into place. Then when he least expected it a piece of the puzzle became missing and he was faced with finding the connecting pieces and continuing on his journey.

         

Was it a tough puzzle? At times! Was he able to recognize what needed to be done? At times! Did he learn? Yes! Is the puzzle still a work in progress? Yes! Does it ever get fully completed?

         

Phil is the son of the late Owen (OB) and Adie Price with one sister, Penny Price (Cochran) of Cochran Auction Services. While Phil’s mom was interested in draft horses (Belgians) his dad had a definitive love for them as well, primarily Percherons. In fact, that’s how they met and as almost everyone knows the story of this family’s success, it is a thread intertwined within an industry steeped in tradition.

         

Eventually they started getting involved with show ponies, including parade ponies. Phil remembered being around five or six years old at this time. It wasn’t long until the family started taking in more outside horses at their location in Jeffersonville, Ohio around the South Solan area.

         

Even though OB was pretty much a full time farmer, upon their move to their new location in Columbus, Ohio OB ventured out into the professional trainer ranks. He started to work for a gentleman named Lester Erlanbach until new highway construction took the farm.

         

The family then leased for a while, taking in more stock. “I sure remember some pretty warm summers and some mighty cold winters,” Phil said, shaking his head.

 

Another move in 1964 took them to a North Columbus location and to a much nicer and larger place where apparently several trainers at this location had really gotten their feet off the ground. OB purchased a pretty nice Morgan from Bob Hart who had also been at this location. It was a Morgan named Tasts’ Melody Man. This horse had never really been driven so OB started to work on him. He made him a star in the fine harness division named then for what park harness is today.

         

As time progressed, Phil was in college and working at Western Electric, a Columbus, Ohio based corporation. “I remember at that time Steve Conrad, who was working some of the horses, and I would take colts out behind the barn to break them. They broke me a few times as well,” Phil said, grinning. “Steve was working on a filly and not having much luck. That filly would eventually turn out to be the dam of Eaton’s Wallstreet who would become the sire of Eaton’s Starstruck. I was working a filly that was to become the dam of Overlook Timbalier. Her name was Devan Mary Lou. Talk about an intervention, little did I know! Eventually Penny would help bring them along after they were pretty well broke.”

         

During that time period while at Western Electric, Phil received his draft papers from the United States Army and the very same day he was inducted into the Navy Reserves. It was also during that period when OB had purchased an aged gelding from Judy Swan Whitney, now Harris. His name was Millsbro Major. Phil headed to the military and unfortunately OB later suffered a fall out of the hayloft and sustained a serious injury.

         

It was deemed necessary for Phil to be brought home with a hardship discharge. This task was completed with the hard work of Colonel Raymond Strasberger and E.E. Davis. Phil had not yet arrived home when three gentlemen named Mr. Sullivan and Dr. Thomas Eaton along with Dr. Irons decided to start sending Morgans to the farm. This made it a little difficult since Phil was not yet home but Steve Conrad held down the fort so to speak. This was only the beginning of the surge that Morgans and the name Price would start to take shape.

         

The three gentlemen mentioned earlier needed to invest some capital and through them it was decided to build Carrousel Stables, a 29-stall barn in Bellevue, Ohio. Although Phil was not home yet from the Navy, upon his discharge he immediately headed to his new home in Bellevue where the entire Price family and employees had been asked to come on board. Conrad, a valuable asset in those early days, did not make the move.

         

After about two years the farm was not doing what it had hoped financially. The barn was full of corporation horses and there was absolutely no room for outside horses. The Prices then leased the facility and eventually purchased it, keeping the name, and Carrousel Stables was ready to take on the world.

         

Upon the purchase the Prices started adding stalls in increments as more and more customers started coming in. Eventually the stables would amass 75 stalls. The names of OB and Phil Price were becoming very recognizable. The Brown family soon became part of the lineup and had such horses as Applevale Athena, Bayberry Belinda and Gladgay Grand March. Bill Brown did the driving and daughters Linda and Sandy showed in various divisions. In fact, Penny Price instructed Linda to the top honor in equitation, the AMHA Saddle Seat Medal. Penny also began to get recognition when she and Saddleback Spangles earned top honors at Oklahoma.

         

During that time they also had Holly’s Teacher’s Pet who later became the dam of Eaton’s Batjac as well as Marilyn Gay and Me And My Shadow who had a long and successful career for several owners. But one could certainly not leave out Prince Omar. He was sold, then Phil purchased him back and kept him until he died at the ripe old age of 30. He was the very first world champion gelding at the Grand Nationals, held then in Detroit, Mich.

         

The first world champion gelding Phil trained,

Prince Omar lived to the ripe old age of 30.

 

In fact, Applevale Athena would become the dam of LCS Peaches N Cream. According to Phil she was also a good producer as Jim Lowry and the Safanies had great success with several of her offspring.

         

When asked if at that point in his career did he have any hesitation about his life’s work, Phil said, “Not once I really saw what it was like and we got into the position where we were getting in better horses each time, not to take away from the horses we already had. And back in those early years so many customers would take their horses home for the winter, making some winters a little tough. We were making a good living and things were looking pretty good.”

         

Even though the farm by now was solid with Morgans, OB never lost his love for his draft horses. When the Nord family became customers, Cindy Nord also had an avid love for her draft horses. “Dad would go the National Clydesdale sale in Des Moines, Iowa and fortunately be able to purchase the top consignment from Anheuser Busch. During that period Anheuser would put consistent nice consignments through that sale, year after year,” said Phil.

         

“I really enjoyed watching the draft horses but never really got involved with them. I know that’s a big part of who Dad was. I remember one time at the Indiana State Fair, Dad was tied up with something so I helped Cindy warm up the Clydesdales and then she proceeded to carry the officials into the show ring. It is a tradition that she and Dad did for years. Cindy really loves her draft horses.”

         

Even as the years passed and things didn’t remain the same, the look on Phil’s face certainly reflected the good times back then. Reflections can often times play a big role in today’s world; where one’s been and where one is headed.

         

Phil, certainly blessed with immeasurable success in virtually all divisions, is as he puts it totally into pro high performance. “Back in earlier years pleasure horses were almost non-existent. It’s a good thing now because they are definitely adding to our industry and shows also. They are a strong factor in the Saddlebred world as well. They help us all. I do wonder why some of our other divisions are suffering. I remember one year at Northampton there were 23 mares in the Park Saddle Mare class. What has happened?

         

“I don’t believe that some park horses back then could necessarily be park horses today. There are so many variables. Because of the giant love and success for the pleasure horses I look one day for the pleasure championship to be the final class of the show. I recall that some people thought that Pinehaven Renaissance shouldn’t be a park horse. With the exception of a few talented trainers today he might not have been. He carried a Morgan pleasure horse length foot, worked hard and liked it. He never stopped giving you all he had. It was effortless for him. We won the World Park Saddle Championship with him two times.

 

The beautiful Pinehaven Renaissance,

a two-time world grand champion
in park saddle.

 

         

“We also won it twice with Big Bend H-Bomb, three times with Overlook Timbalier in park harness and one time with Ledgemere Finesse in pleasure driving. Great, great horses for us. He was something else!

 

The ever-popular three-time Park Harness World

Grand Champion Overlook Timbalier with Phil.

         

“We took Big Bend H-Bomb to several shows, four in fact, when he was four years old. We showed him in harness, under saddle and in hand. Dad showed him in harness-Dad really never rode-and I showed him in hand and under saddle. We showed him in 20 classes, brought home 20 blue ribbons. I’m not for certain but that may be a record.”

         

Big Bend H-Bomb retired at the North Carolina

State Championship Horse Show with the

Carrousel family and extended family.

 

Phil is really gung ho on incentive programs. “One year at Northampton I won the Park Saddle Stake. I imagine I brought home around $5,000 with HVK Forte while earlier on the Morgan Breeders’ Sweepstakes class paid $25,000. I am glad that they can make that kind of money. I’d like to see the Park Saddle Stake at New England or Oklahoma pay a $50,000 prize. I put my thoughts together and came up with an incentive program a few years ago. I contacted stallion owners to put up $1,000 each and have their get nominated and the money paid out to the Open Park Saddle and Park Harness classes at the Morgan Grand National and World Championship Horse Show. It got to the point where we were getting pretty good money; that was around 1995. The next year I was asked to judge and eventually I turned over the duties to another person as I didn’t think it was fair for me to judge and then turn around and ask them for money. I’m not made that way. It was a conflict of interest for me.”

         

Back in the spectacular journey of Carrousel, their success was what many trainers dream of today. It was unbelievable the impact they had on the industry. Imagine taking 40 horses to the Morgan Gold Cup in Columbus, Ohio in the 70s, about 10 percent of the horses, and bringing home 30 percent of the blue ribbons.

         

To get to that place it took a considerable amount of talent, drive, determination and the support of the whole Carrousel family. The entire Price family seemed to have it all. “To keep a horse going is but one thing for me. I get a lot of satisfaction bringing one up from a youngster, and taking it in a successful direction and to finish is special for me. It’s an accomplishment!” said Phil.

         

Phil’s talent was well recognized back then and that same talent is perhaps even more recognizable with the showing and training of both Morgans and American Saddlebreds.

         

“I’ve been very lucky in my career overall. I remember one time we won 25 blue ribbons at Northampton. We had a large number of entries but believe me we had very few holes in that string. I believe we won in every division.

         

“We had Tim O’Gorman working for us as an assistant I believe about three different times. I remember a funny story about Tim,” Phil said, laughing while he continued. “Tim got his draft papers and we tried everything imaginable to get him out of the service. We got with doctors, associates and anyone else who we thought could help but to no avail. Naturally we lost! So Tim headed off to go take his physical, called us few days later to tell us he had flunked his physical because of flat feet and that he would be back to work in a couple of days.”

         

Back in those early days the operation was fortunate to have a good working staff. Terry Rutledge came to the stable right after high school. Sandy Sessink and Wayne Day were also assistants. In fact, all of these horsemen and horsewoman have gone on to considerable success in their lives.

         

“We had so many training horses around that time,” Phil said. “Around 75 and we had to go between two barns to train. Our business was thriving. There were times during breeding season we would be feeding 110 horses!

         

“We stood two stallions, Applevale Boy King and Waseeka’s Skylark. Now this was before transported semen. After working horses all day we would load up the two stallions and take them from farm to farm. Boy King was owned back then by Edwin Artz. He was vice president of Proctor and Gamble. Boy King eventually carried on his legacy at Triple Creek Farm. We had several nice offspring from Boy King, two especially known as top-notch stars, Darien and Schenectady.”

         

Through the tireless efforts of the entire family and staff, Darien won the World Amateur Park Harness twice and Schenectady won the World Champion Mare, World Champion Amateur Park Saddle and Reserve World Champion Junior Park Saddle titles.

 

Back in those days Carrousel was on the road constantly. You can take this as law that when Creech Brothers Transport pulled into the show grounds with the Carrousel horses it was going to be one hell of a show. OB, Adie, Penny and Conky had arrived… prepared!

         

Carrousel, back in those days, pretty much had the market with Morgans throughout the Midwest, including their home state of Ohio. It was phenomenal to see the strength one solitary stable had on the industry.

         

“Our success was an effort by many. From our vets, farriers, caretakers, hay and grain people to promotion and the entire training staff, everyone played a key role in our success.”

         

Mr. E.E. Davis, owner of Waseeka’s Skylark, decided that it was time for him to shy away from the business. So Phil and OB put together a terrific package of horses. Waseeka’s Skylark, Royal Oaks Andrew, Antoinette and Windcrest Marianne, the dam of Andrew and Antoinette. The package was sold to the Leo Arthalonys of Brentwood Morgans. This pretty much withdrew Davis from the business although he did still keep a few in training, such as well-known star Royal Oaks Annton.

         

“Skylark, as everyone knows, went on to do quite well. He had a great attitude and a neck that stretched for days. Both stallions did well for us and went on to do more good things. They most certainly got the job done and made their lasting imprint in the Morgan industry.”

         

Back then Phil’s reputation as a top-notch trainer brought him more and more success. While OB still did his part with training and breeding, he also had much of the managerial duties to himself.

         

“As I progressed I fully expected to get more heavily involved in the whole process,” Phil explained. “Right or wrong, I had my own opinions and directions of how things should go, so basically Dad and I agreed to disagree. I’m sure we were not the only ones in the horse business to have differences of opinion. Our observations were obviously different and our paths took us in different directions. If I had a customer come to me with a question about their horse, like how come so-and-so didn’t look so good at the last show, I felt it was my responsibility to give them the answers since I was training and showing their horse. I didn’t feel I should be having someone field those questions for me and give them an answer I might not have given. It caused friction, right or wrong.”

         

When asked how he felt as a person and trainer today, Phil replied, “I think much better now. I have a lot more experience under my belt. I’d like to think I’ve grown a lot in many ways. If I get stuck on something or get into a rut I can call friends like Jim and Jenny Taylor, Steve Demjen, Lonnie Lavery or George Knight. There are times when I get into a rut, knowing that we’d probably still do some disagreeing, I’d like to have Dad here to help. I believe that I’d probably be better now than when we were at Carrousel.

         

“Good ground people help make us as trainers and play a key role in our success. When I get stumped, I sometimes think to myself, ‘I wonder what Dad would say?’ Back in the day it worked, it really worked.”

         

A list of world and national champions trained by Phil included the likes of Big Bend H Bomb, HVK Forté, Overlook Timbalier, Pinehaven Renaissance, Schenectady, Marno’s Mystique, Fleetwing’s Prophet, Ledgemere Finesse, Jebradan’s Shennigan, Apollo’s Reflection, Van Lu Love Story, Lyon Hill Ben Echo, Applevale Athena, LMF Mystique, Foot Hill Figure, UC Twilight, Blue Rose Cinder, Merryweather Bravo-B, PAF In Control, HVK Acclamation, High Hawk, Darien, Eaton’s Gary Owen, Eaton’s Talisman, Eaton’s Batjack, Noble Etta, Bayberry Balinda Charisma and the list goes on and on.

         

HVK Forté, pictured here with Kathleen Flowers,

was a multi-titled world champion with Phil as well.

 

LMF Mystique was one of Phil’s

many champions over the years.

 

“We had well over 100 world and national championships. I also won a reserve world title with the Saddlebred Catalyst’s Work Of Art in harness as a two-year-old,” Phil added.

         

When asked how he handled tough horses since Phil, like many, has had his share of tough ones, he replied, “You really have to analyze them first. Are they cheating? Are they trying too hard? Are they not yet advanced enough? Redd Crabtree once told me that a trainer is a horse’s best friend. I believe that. It is my job as trainer to take them in the direction they need to go. That may not always be what the customer wants but educating them certainly helps that process. I do what is best for the horse. Customers don’t always like to hear things about the direction their horse should go and may go to two or three other trainers just for them to tell the customer what I already told them.”

         

Phil’s obvious love for Morgans is never ending. Although he has enjoyed great success with them, he also has a love for the American Saddlebred. Even back in much earlier days he had a mare named Honey Bear who he showed wearing work jods, a sport coat and didn’t have any riding boots. He also showed and purchased his first Saddlebred named Denmark’s Cherokee while at Carrousel.

         

As a young man, Phil loved

the American Saddlebred. He

is shown here with Honey Bear.

 

Phil’s first real glimpse regarding Saddlebreds was during the Chicago International where he first saw Denmark’s Daydream. He also had the good fortune to witness Art Simmons and the greats like Tashi Ling and Colonel Boyle. Little did Phil know at that time that the real introduction of the Saddlebred had hit him square in the face.

         

But he remembered during the famed Ohio State Fair Horse Show, which was competing with the Texas State Fair as the largest show, he witnessed the legendary My-My with Frank Bradshaw. The coliseum at the fairgrounds was always filled to capacity with mostly fairgoers.

         

“When she came into the ring with Frank Bradshaw, she got a standing ovation and also one when she left. Her picture was in every Columbus newspaper, front page! It was unbelievable.”

         

Phil developed his talents with Saddlebreds much in the same way he did with the Morgans-hands on. “There really isn’t a lot of difference between training them. A nice horse willing is a nice horse in anyone’s book. Sure there are obvious differences, body type for one and I believe Morgans should stay that way. I don’t think Morgans should look like Saddlebreds and vice versa. To me, a Morgan can wear its head just as good as a Saddlebred. Don’t get me wrong, I want to clarify that I don’t think Morgans should look like miniature draft horses either.

         

“If you look back at the photos and paintings of Justin Morgan in that depiction do we really know that is what he looked like. My idea of what a Morgan should look like are probably closer to that look than some of today’s. I probably have

 

“I vividly remember my first connection with a big time Saddlebred was when the Nords purchased Karissa Hi-Lite who Tom Ferrebee took to multi-titles. We did reasonably well with her. We got two thirds, one at Lexington and one at Louisville. We did win the Four-Year-Old Fine Harness National Sweepstakes, then held in Raleigh, N.C., that has been most definitely a highlight in my career. I remember after winning the class, two trainers who were also in the class came over to congratulate me and that was two of the Saddlebred world’s true trainers and gentlemen, the late Dale Milligan and Redd Crabtree. You can’t imagine how I felt!”

         

With the closing of Carrousel, this unbelievable part of Morgan history, the entire Price family including all those involved have set the bar so high that few will achieve. Upon the departure, Phil moved with 15 Morgans to his new location in New Albany, Ohio with wife Linda Lowary, who has a wealth of talent and knowledge in the Saddlebred world. They both decided that with Phil’s established abilities in the Morgan industry that is the direction they would go. It wasn’t long until they had 24 horses in training and the barn was full.

         

After the divorce Phil then headed to Sharon Center, Ohio where he leased stalls from good friends Lonnie and Renee Lavery at their Richlon Farm. At that point Phil wasn’t sure what direction to take, trying to find that piece of the puzzle that would fit into place and allow him to move ahead. He had three Morgans and three Saddlebreds in training. He also went to Jim Stewart’s Lookaway Farm to work horses for him.

         

“It was tough. I remember taking three Morgans down to Raleigh. Those horses were shipped home. I drove all night, got home, three Saddlebreds were shipped to Indianapolis, and I got in the car and headed there myself.”

         

It was during his travels to Oklahoma that he was offered a private training position at Donna Louzier’s Pixel Acres in New Hampshire. Phil said, “It is when you least expect it, something positive happens.”

         

With one horse left, a Saddlebred named Artwork, sales had been pretty good. During his transition to Pixel Acres, the mare was sent to Tom Ferrebee’s. She was owned by the Grimm family. They showed her for another year or so.

         

“Upon my arrival at Pixel, we were pretty successful. We had such stars as PAF In Control and Something Wicked, out of Eaton’s Starstrick who was by HVK Bell Flaire. We had Stoney Hollow Iceman, Stonecroft Chantilly, Mountain Holly Isiah, Crazy For You, Zena and HVK Acclamation. I was at Pixel for a year and a half. Donna and I had a good working relationship.”

         

After Pixel Acres closed, Phil decided to take a year and a half sabbatical. “I was soul searching, wondering if my life hadn’t been backwards. Struggling during my earlier days at Carrousel and being in a better place now. I had been on top, not now! My mind was going in a thousand different directions. I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and honestly didn’t like what I saw. Not a bit! My self-esteem was so low. Ironically my favorite all time group, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, came on the radio with the song Walk Like A Man. That song hit me like a ton of bricks. I kicked myself in the butt, loaded up my car, called Mom and Dad and Lonnie and Renee Lavery and told their answering machine I was heading home. Enough was enough!”

         

“I was broke, needed a bed and a job.” Phil certainly still had his wealth of talent and that helped him get back on track and start that puzzle again, piece by piece.

         

“Once you have that talent you don’t lose it. I honestly didn’t know if I had it or not. I was really low!” Phil then headed to Kentucky to take an assistant trainer job with Melinda Moore at her Arrowhead Farm. With a sudden accident that laid him up for a while, “I heard that Chris Reiser was leaving L’Ambience Farm, owned by Tina Stodd. I called her, worked out a deal and here I am in Spring Valley. Ohio. In fact we are just around the corner basically from Kathy and Gene Boggs’ Cape Cod Farm. I really like being on my own again, I love it!”

         

The barn is located in a serene country setting with pastures and paddocks. The barn has several stalls, all the amenities necessary to make it a good working facility complete with a 60 x 200 indoor arena, also complete with a beautiful lounge and living quarters, an exceptionally nice barn.

         

“I had great success with the Artwork offspring once I was here at L’Ambience,” Phil said. Her offspring included Majestic Impression, Catalyst’s Masterpiece and Catalyst’s Work Of Art, with whom Phil won the two-year-old fine harness mare reserve world championship in 2005, then sold her to Priscilla Marconi. Jim Lowry then took her to the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Mare World Championship in 2006.

         

Phil showed Catalyst’s Work Of Art

 to the Reserve World Champion

Two-Year-Old Fine Harness title.

 

Phil enjoyed terrific success with the Catalyst/Artwork get. He took Majestic Impression, Catalyst’s Work Of Art and Catalyst’s Masterpiece to the Dayton Horse Show’s Two Year-old Fine Harness titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The Grimms also owned a terrific yearling named Catalyst’s Blond Ambition, who Phil also sold to Priscilla Marconi. In 2007 she earned the Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited Mare Section II Reserve World Champion title and went on to win the ASR Two-Year-Old Three Gaited Sweepstakes at the All American Classic in Indianapolis in 2007.

         

Phil shortly purchased a Saddlebred and sold it to one of his former customers, the Grimms, who arrived shortly after Phil did at L’Ambience. The horse’s name was Callaway’s Wish Me Luck, purchased for their daughter, Sarah, who did exceptionally well with him. Since then he has been sold since Sarah is now in law school.

         

The Kubanders also sent Phil a horse they showed themselves in harness and park. He trimmed him as a three-gaited pony and they did well. His name is Tip O’ The Hat. He was third in the Three-Gaited Pony class at Louisville in 2007.

         

When asked if he found much time away from the horses, Phil said, “I love to play golf. I love it! I do play a lot less now than I did years ago. I also like to bowl. I remember years ago when Mike Tunstall worked for us and lived at our house, we would get on the snowmobile and ride to the bowling alley and back. The things we used to do.”

         

Phil also finds judging a challenge, but loves to do it. He would like to see all the breeds eventually working together. The Saddlebred is not the enemy of the Morgan, or vice versa. He believes all breeds should work together for the sport.

         

“I’d like to see industry publications on tables in doctors and dentists’ offices, more hotels other than the headquarters hotel, on airplanes, trains, taxis, outside our target areas which needs broadening.“

         

Phil has a genuine love for the Morgan and Saddlebred. “The Saddlebred that really catches my eye is Joe Friday. Nelson Green and John Conatser should be commended. I haven’t seen him much but he has that special something. Morgan-wise I was very honored to judge the Grand Nationals in 2006. I witnessed an unbelievable show between Scott Thacker and Continental Vision and HVK Bell Flaire with Judy Whitney Harris. I honestly could not fault either of them for the manner and professionalism they presented these two stars. I also really like Stand And Deliver with Mike Goebig. “

         

With Phil’s life back on track, lessons learned and perhaps still more to learn, one can be assured he won’t give up the fight. His talent, knowledge and determination combined with an intensity that is indicative of him, Phil Price by any other name just simply wouldn’t be Phil Price. After a journey, which got off the beaten path for a while, he’s back and on the road to success again. The puzzle of life is starting to fit in place again.

 

Multi-title junior five-gaited champion

Thunder Over The Amazon was shown to wins

by Phil at Dayton, Twin Rivers, Springfield Charity

and Blue Ribbon Fall Classic this year.





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