2017 AQHA Legacy Breeder Award:
Pat & Eddy Sparks, Taber, Alberta
by: Richard Chamberlain for AQHA
Eddy Sparks registered his first American Quarter Horse in 1965. That was the buckskin Tonto Junior filly Penny Bar Sparks, whose dam he bought in foal the previous fall. Eddy married Patricia Rombough that same year, and the couple has registered at least one foal every year since, a total so far of 372 as bred by Pat and/or Eddy Sparks, who raise American Quarter Horses on their ranch at Taber, near Lethbridge, Alberta.
“In 1965, I bought the stallion Peppy’s Tiller, a son of Peppy P-212, from another breeder, M.S. McBeth, whom I had worked with, and put together a broodmare band,” says Eddy, who will be 85 in October. “Having been involved in rodeo since the early 1950s, I had trained many early day Quarter Horses for arena events. During this time, I became the owner of a great gelding, Promoter. Bred by the King Ranch and foaled in 1952, Promoter was by Hired Hand and out of the Peppy mare Seferina. This beautiful chestnut gelding carried me and many other good ropers to the pay window many times. Because of this, I became very interested in the King Ranch breeding program and began using the bloodlines of Old Sorrel and outcrossing to the Three Bars (TB) bloodlines.”
Eddy used two sons of Three Chicks, a stakes-winning and AAAT-earning AQHA Champion son of Three Bars, and a son of Royal Bar who was double-bred Old Sorrel on his dam’s side. The sons of Three Chicks were both black and both sired a large percentage of black foals.
One of the Three Chicks stallions was Chick’s Leo Gann, who was out of the Leo Gann mare Lady Gann and was a full brother to AAA-earning Chicks Gann and AQHA Champion Gann’s Three Chick, a Superior halter horse who was the reserve world champion 3-year-old stallion in 1975. The other Three Chicks son was Skedadle Chick, an AQHA Champion and Superior halter horse. (photo on left)
“These two studs crossed exceptionally well with our King Ranch bloodlines,” Eddy says. “We have bred up to 50 horses a year to our stallions, mostly outside mares for customers.”
The Sparkses also have owned other King Ranch-bred sires, such as Win’s Rancho, a son of Rey Del Rancho, whose sire Ranchero was by Solis, a son of Old Sorrel; and Rey De Piqua, a son of the Rey Del Ranch stallion El Ray Rojo. They currently stand a couple of homebreds: their Rey De Piqua stallion El Reys Legacy, a 20-year-old chestnut they heel off of for team roping; and Peppy Peaka Power, a 2001 sorrel by the Peppy San Badger stallion Marvilla Pep (photo right)
“When I first started attending rodeos in the late ‘40s, I was impressed by the horses that the timed-event cowboys were riding,” Eddy says. “They called them Texas Quarter Horses. Then, through the ‘50s, I broke and trained some of those horses for people who had acquired breeding stock from the States. A lot of those were by or descendants of Sleepy Cat, a son of Red Dog, that Jack Casement bred out of a Sheep mare. When I started calf roping at rodeos in the ‘50s, it was those kind of horses that I wanted to ride and use.”
Those horses also taught him what constitutes a really good horse.
“My ideal horse would be 15 or 15.1 hands, weighing around 1,100 pounds,” he says. “He has to have good withers and a short back, long shoulders and hips, a clean neck and a nice head with a big, soft eye. He should have good feet and legs, be low in the hocks with short cannons, with Size 0 shoes and well-rounded, dark hooves. Color is not really important, but I do not like too many white hooves.”
In 1960, Eddy attended Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, California, to learn to shoe horses. Three years later, he became a products inspector for the Canada Department of Agriculture.
“In the meantime, I continued to compete in calf and team roping,” he says. “After Pat and I were married, she started barrel racing on Flashy One, a daughter of Peppy’s Tiller. Pat was very successful, winning many competitions, rodeos and circuit championships.”
Pat and Eddy also organized the Taber Quarter Horse show, where Pat served as manager and secretary for a number of years.
“Our main purpose in raising Quarter Horses has been for arena performance, and we were greatly influenced by the good horses raised by the King Ranch.” Eddy says. “Our greatest achievement has been watching and knowing that others are doing well and winning with the horses that we produced in our program. Knowing that we had chosen the right path when we became involved with the progeny of Old Sorrel and the King Ranch horses has been a real pleasure. And through involvement with AQHA, we have made many good and life-long friends, and have helped many people get involved in breeding, showing and competing with Quarter Horses.”
Photo above: Pat & Eddy Sparks with Diamond Dictator