Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse News

2007 International

Grand Championship




KMSHA Foundations:
Emmett "Bud" Davis


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.

The 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 Play Farm.

"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.

As 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 name several.

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 trail rider.

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."