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Renowned Horseman Don Hulse Mourned


Lifelong horseman R. Don Hulse, of Center, Missouri, died Tuesday morning, May 8, 2007 at age 92. During his life, he built a reputation as one of the top trainers and breeders of American Saddlebreds, stamping his name on the industry with one of the most prolific stallions in the breed’s history, Champagne Fizz.


Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. CT today, Wednesday, May 9 at Bienhoff Funeral Home in Center, Missouri. Funeral services will be held at St. William Catholic Church in Perry, Missouri, on Thursday, May 10 at 10 a.m. CT. The family wishes for expressions of sympathy to be made to St. Paul Cemetery Association and sent to Donna Gayle Sokolik, P.O. Box 99, Perry, MO 63462.


Don learned a lot about horses from his father, Dyas B. Hulse. Dyas operated a dry goods store in Center. When customers were unable to pay their bill, he would often accept horses in trade, teach them to rack, then sell them.


Hulse Stables in Center was home to many good sires, such as La Veeda’s Knight (sire of World’s Champion CHLegal Tender) and On The Go (sire of World’s Champions CHPrincess Julia, Bella Mia, Lakeview’s Sea Goddess and CHGoing Big Time). They also bred broodmares like Hollywood Genius (BHF). Don’s talent as a trainer was evidenced by his influence in the show ring careers of many, including CHHazel Dawn Again, CHMiss Boomerang and CHSea Of Wonders.


Don had already made a name for himself breeding and training champions, but he would become even more widely recognized after acquiring the Supreme Sultan son, Champagne Fizz in 1974. Very few stallions have had as much an impact on the Saddlebred world in the last 30 years as has Champagne Fizz – 774 get, 217 winners, 116 finishing reserve or better at Louisville, 409 ribbon winners. The majority of champions bearing a Champagne name were bred and raised at Hulse Stables.


Don’s life’s achievements did not go unnoticed; he was inducted into both the United Professional Horseman’s Association Hall of Fame and the ASHA Breeders Hall of Fame. When the American Royal inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 1999, the state of Missouri proclaimed it Don Hulse Day.

Don was a World War II veteran. He met his wife, Virginia, in Missouri. They wed in 1939 and remained married until her death in 1999. Virginia was a school teacher, a lifelong career she began at age 16, teaching in a one-room school house. Don and Virginia had four children: Donna (Sokolik), Mary Jo (Hagan), Mark and Ron. Ironically, both daughters became teachers while both sons entered the horse business, becoming well-known trainers themselves.


Don Hulse spent over half a century dedicated to the American Saddlebred as a trainer, showman, teacher and breeder.  


(Courtesy of ASHA)


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