by Mary Marshall
The face of Emmett "Bud"
Davis lights up when he talks about his horses. Animated and lively
at the age of 81, Emmett smiles broadly as he talks about the "great
ones" that he has bred and shown with success. He is considered one
of the instrumental breeders in establishing the foundation
bloodlines of the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse with such
influential stallions as Squirrel, Choco Dock, and Maple’s Squirrel.
Emmett, a retired nursing
home administrator, got off to an early start as a horseman under
the watchful eye of his father, E.R. Davis, Sr., who always rode
"Kentucky-bred" horses. The Kentucky-breds were good natured working
horses with a smooth, four-beat gait, capable of pulling a plow on
Friday, taking you to town on Saturday, and fancy enough to show off
at church on Sunday.
Davis family started their Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse breeding
operation at Horse Play Farm in Paris, Kentucky, where they still
reside. Emmett and his wife Aleitha raised four children that
started to ride almost before they could walk. The need for a
child-safe horse prompted Emmett to breed a good natured mount that
also had a smooth four-beat gait.
In 1959, he took a
smooth-gaited mare to be bred to one of foundation breeder Sam
Tuttle’s gaited stallions. Unfortunately the mare did not conceive,
but years later one of the mare’s descendants, Friday, became a
foundation mare for the breed and the great granddam of multiple
champion Zsa Zsa, by Choco Dock.
Foundation bloodlines played
an integral role in the development of Davis stock. The famous
stallion Squirrel, sired by the legendary Old Tobe, stood at Horse
"We incorporated a lot of
the good old tried and true bloodlines," said Emmett’s son Tom
Davis. "The old Saddlebred stock through Peavine and Black Squirrel,
and Tennessee Walking Horse bloodlines through Roan Allen. Those
bloodlines always gave you a true smooth gait without the paciness
that you see so much in the Walking Horse bloodlines today."
Emmett purchased Maple’s
Squirrel from Lawrence Maples in 1986. The influential stallion
sired a bevy of talented offspring including Classic’s Squirrel,
Maples Fancy, Something Special, Tobe’s Chocolate Chip, Squirrel
Too, Squirrel’s Dandy Boy, Squirrel’s Pet, Squirrel’s Pride,
Arthur’s Traveler, and Reno Ballou to name several.
"We always bred good
horses," said Aleitha with a smile, "but Emmett was always trading
horses too. That wasn’t our only business. After he served two years
in the Army during World War II, he sold vaccum cleaners and cattle
before getting a Master’s Degree in psychology. Horses were always
his first love though. We tried to establish horses with a good
solid gait that were kind and beautiful to look at."
Choco Dock fit all the
criteria that Emmett was trying to breed into his horses--stunningly
beautiful, with a kind temperament, a show-stopping four-beat gait,
and brilliance in the show ring. Choco Dock had it all.
"He was a brilliant show
horse and is a fantastic breeding stallion," said Steve, who rode
the stallion, along with Emmett and Tom, to many of his legendary
championship victories. "He has become a highly influential
stallion. All you get is natural gait when you have a Choco Dock
baby; and a lot of trophies."
Choco Dock, with Steve
aboard, captured the 1993 Rocky Mountain Horse Association’s coveted
Pleasure Grand International Championship and the Sam Tuttle Award.
Also included among his many victories are the 1990 Conformation
Championship, 1993 International Performance Grand Championship,
1994 Presidential Award for Outstanding Sire, 1994 Central Kentucky
Horse Association Pleasure High Point Award, and the 1997
International Grand Champion in Conformation.
a sire, the exploits of Choco Dock’s offspring continues in the show
ring and the breeding shed. Included among his progeny are multiple
Kentucky State Champion Zsa Zsa, 1994 Two-Year-Old Champion Stallion
C.R. Top Gun, 1994 Three-Year-Old Champion Choco Mania, 1993
International Champion Gelding Desperado, 2003 International
Champion Gelding Beau Dandy, 2003 International Conformation
Champion Sir Choco Lot, Sam Tuttle Award winner Sudden Impact, to
The trophy room at Horse
Play farm overflows with the numerous trophies and championships
garnered by the Davis family and reflects their continuing influence
in the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse industry. Tom and Steve enjoy
showing and breeding good Mountain horses while Lisa is an avid
Emmett, who enjoyed trail
riding with Aleitha, rode on a 100-mile ride at Daniel Boone
National Forest in 2005 at the age of 79. Only recently has he hung
up his tack.
"I know if we could pack him up on a horse
right now he’d enjoy the ride wouldn’t you dad?" Tom asks. Emmett
smiles, and nods his head, "You bet." he said. "Where’s the horse."