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Sondra Moll - She Died With A Big Heart and A Love For All Things Horses



by Bob Funkhouser

The show horse industry is made up of as many different types of characters as there are letters in the alphabet and one of the most unique was the recently deceased Sondra Moll. She was a larger woman and fashion was not her forte, but it didn’t bother her in the least. In that area she was probably best known for her long, thick fake eyelashes. The story also goes that her adoptive parents made their money in the liquor business. Paramount Liquors was extremely successful, but before that Moll has told the story to friends that her father was a partner of Al Capone’s, running liquor from Chicago to St. Louis.

To those who only knew of her, she was a hard person to get a read on. To those who knew her well and were considered her friends, she had a heart of gold in many areas.

“If she liked you, you couldn’t have a better friend. If she didn’t, well, now that was another story. It didn’t matter if you had money or not. If you loved horses you could ride and show with her,” said longtime friend Gary Dickherber. “She loved kids and she loved giving lessons and going to all of the little shows around here. That was her thing. She also got into the breeding business and absolutely loved the babies, but children and riding lessons were why she spent a lifetime in this business.”

Dickherber and Moll grew up close to one another in O’Fallon, Mo. He watched her go from a kid showing a white Tennessee Walking Horse in the local open pleasure classes to a teenager riding cutting horses, to a young adult showing Highland Sandy to the Missouri State High Point Pleasure Championship for some five years in a row.

When she had finally settled on American Saddlebreds, Jimmie Hite was hired. Max Ciampoli also was part of the family in the beginning.    


“Sondra had a lot of trainers and some young guys who went on to be very good horsemen,” added Dickherber. “I used to help her with the breeding and we got pretty darn good at it. We also had a lot of fun. Sondra was very hands on with her operation. Sometimes too hands on; just ask anybody who worked for her,” chuckled Dickherber.

For those who were around the business back in the ‘70s they will remember Moll and her incredible parade horses. Teamed with her sidekick of many years, Danny Breakbill, Moll had parade icons like Sterling Performance, Thousands Cheered, and Flash Command. It was also during that time that she got great enjoyment from putting on a show at her farm right at Halloween.

“That was a three or four day show and it got to be big,” said Dickherber. “We had to put up tents to accommodate all the horses. She lived for that show.”

And in the later part of her career she lived for the broodmares and babies. A local horseman had a linebred Stonewall King stallion she was crazy about and she eventually bought a stallion and some mares from him. Someone’s Secret (by Jaunty King’s Golden Dream) was the stallion that would put her in the breeding business and his influence is still seen in her program today. In fact, the dam of this year’s sensational Two -Year-Old Fine Harness Mare World’s Champion Miracle On 42nd Street, was by Someone’s Secret. This most recent world’s champion was purchased from Moll by John Willis, another of her former employees.

“She was a wonderful, wonderful person. We had some great times together,” said Willis. Sondra was a very private person. She didn’t want anyone to know she had cancer.

“She bred a lot of nice horses for this industry. She supported this industry in a big way, sometimes having anywhere from 50 to 70 horses at a time.”

Moll left her home state of Missouri in ‘93 when flood waters took over her farm. The property had a habit of flooding anyway and she had finally had enough. In one day she loaded up horses, equipment, and personal belongings, moved to Florida and never looked back.

She set up shop at the Boca Raton Equestrian Center where giving lessons again became a big part of her life. This time, however, the breeding division of Emerald View Stables was even bigger. She had acquired the world’s champion performer 42nd Street ERB, to go with Galahad, Dragnoir, The Emerald Sea, and A Grand Affair. All of these proved to be champion producing sires. 42nd Street has sired world’s champions like 42nd Street Gal and Miracle On 42nd Street. Galahad was one of her early sires and he produced Galahad’s Puppeteer, Shadow Boxer, Somersby, Galahad’s Big Business, Galahad’s G. Willikers and The Bees Knees. A Grand Affair sired Ostentatiously who has been a star at Lexington and Louisville this year. Dragnoir sired the elegant gray mare, Macy Gray, owned by Theresa Vonderschmitt. Rounding out the list of stallions who stood at Emerald View under Moll’s direction was The Emerald Sea (a full brother to Satan’s Seductress) who sired Sunken Treasure.

Moll sold the Boca Raton Equestrian Center and moved to the inner reaches of Florida for her last location. The estate is currently being settled and the horses will be sold.

The list of those associated with Moll over the forty some years she spent in the business is long and impressive. It would include Gary Dickherber, Janet Green, Janet Desberg, Bill Robison, Frank DePolito, Jimmie Hite, Max Ciampoli, Danny Breakbill, Bret Day, Bob Johnson, John Willis, Lance Hayes, Greg O’Kelley, Tom Sworm, Erik Kirsch, Kent Swalla, Kim Vogel, and Randy Waller.

“She was the type of person for some reason I thought would never die. It’s really sad,” said Dickherber. “I talked to her the night before she died and I told her I was coming down to visit. She said, ‘No, wait until I’m better. I don’t want you to see me like this.’”

“She’s going to be missed,” added Willis. “There aren’t enough breeders as there is and she was dedicated to it.”

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