Silhouette Farms Breeding Spots"
by Tom Burris printed from the Mid-South Horse Review.
In earlier times it was not uncommon for a bride to be accompanied by a dowry on her wedding day. In essence it was sort of a payment to help the groom defray the costs of his new bride and provide him a leg up to help support his new family.
When Bobby and Sally Sigman of Mt Pleasant, Mississippi were united in holy matrimony in 1997, she was not accompanied by a dowry. Although, unknown to either at the time, the five saddle horses she brought with her to their marriage would quickly become their passion and way of life, not to mention their business. Both are employed as rural mail carriers, but they have made committed steps, along with Sally’s parents, John and Lesley Loftin, into the business of breeding Spotted Saddle Horses. They have fully loaded their guns in an effort to get themselves off the ground. Standing two studs with 9 World Grand Champions in their prodigy, and a combined spotted and solid brood herd, they are well on their way to establishing themselves as premier breeders.
Sally had grown up on a farm. Her biggest background was cattle though. She spent the bulk of her youth showing registered polled herefords and black angus until well after her high school years throughout, she maintained an affinity for horses and riding. When she met Bobby, he was horseless, although he had spent a fair portion of his life in the saddle. Together, they decided that it would be good for him to have a horse that he could call his own. In the meantime they would have to decide what to get him.
Sally had been keeping her horses at her father’s place, just five miles down the road. About that same time, he had purchased a yearling spotted saddle horse. For whatever reason, the horses were disagreeable with one another and the yearling would need some safe harboring. Bobby and Sally volunteered to put the horse in their yard, the only portion of their 120 acres which they had fenced; one and a half acres. They agreed to keep it until it had become accustomed to them and had settled a bit so that they could re-introduce it. The more Bobby saw that horse, the more he liked it. They settled on buying a spotted saddle horse for him too, once they were working John’s yearling.
In 1998, they found and purchased a double registered Tennessee Walker and Spotted Saddle horse by the name of Mark’s Magic Gal, or “KC” as they liked to call her. This was their introduction to spotted saddle horses.
To this point though, they had not made any sort of move to be full time or even committed breeders. In fact, they were committed to trail and pleasure riding and that was all. Slowly though, they began working their way into breeding their horses. As they did, they were also faced with some life choices; like what to do after retirement. This, in a roundabout way helped convince them that they wanted to be more serious about what they were doing. In 1999, they decided to go full bore.
Spotted Saddle horses are Tennessee Walking Horses bred, of course, for their spots. Any 2 inch square block of white below the head and above the belly. Some have more than others. Coming in tobiano, overo and sabino displays, but also having, in some cases, just one spot; in the tail, on the mane, and even under the saddle. The spots are a genetic trait, only guaranteed if one of the parents carries a homozygous gene combination. There are numerous possibilities, options and chances experimenting with heterozygous combinations. For example, breeding a solid Tennessee Walking Horse to a heterozygous spotted mare.
To be registered Spotted Saddle Horse, their need only be one registered parent. Many times Spotted Saddle Horses are double registered as Tennessee Walking Horses. Spotted Saddle Horses have had an independent organization for the last 17 years; The Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association.
In 1999, the Sigmans began their full-fledged pursuit of Spotted Saddle Horses. They found 2 full sisters, Razmataz and Montana Firebrand, who are Paint The Town bred.
At the same time, they also came across a stud at the farm where they purshased “Razzy” and “Tana”, named Spotted Alen Again, one of the most illustrious studs in the Spotted Horse business. He is registered with 4 different registries, which include SSHBEA, TWHBEA, RHAA and the National Spotted Saddle Horse Association. Up to 1999, his offspring have won 84 World Championships, 62 Reserve World Championships, 7 World Grand Championships and 6 Reserve World Grand Championships. Two of those World Grand Championships were won in the last 5 years. Spotted Alen Again is himself a supreme champion and 3 time World Champion.
It was hard for the Sigmans to argue with his statistics. They began breeding to him and were wonderfully pleased with his foals. The shocker came when they called the owners looking to buy more mares that it was mentioned in passing to Bobby that Spotted Alen Again was for sale. Of course, a horse of that magnitude, the Sigmans did not really give it that much thought, thinking he was way out of their range, but Sally’s curiosity was peaked and she made a call.
“It was more money that we ever planned to spend”, says Sally. But they remembered some strong advice given to them by her uncle Phil Karr. “If you are going to go into breeding, you need to have the best mares and sires you can get”, recounts Sally. The long and short of it is the Sigmans became the new owners of Spotted Alen Again on Janauary 24, 2002. “We like our Alen colts so well that we bought Spotted Alen Again.” Alen now stands at stud at Black Hawk Farms in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
Sally’s father also got into the act. Although John was not quite willing to pay what Bob and Sally had. He did purchase a stallion, Spirit Of Moonlight who stands at stud on the farm in Mt. Pleasant, Mississippi.
The Sigmans have been using a combination of natural and artificial breeding methods. Among last years’ foals and those coming, they have a strong backing and lintage: Alen, Carbon Copy, Marshall Dillon, just to name a few. There are a number of 2 and 3 year olds for sale, not to mention the bevy of yearlings to come around.
It is the Sigman's firm belief that they have to work hard to be good breeders. “Anyone can buy a great horse, but it takes a special effort to be a great breeder”, comments Sally. They have really filled up their schedule with shows to enjoy and promote their horses. The Sigmans recognize the importance of a horse’s limitations , and they work their horses with constant compassion. “You can take a lot of the big names in horse training and put them all together, and that is how we like to train our horses,” explains Bobby. “Basically, if we can’t do it easily with them, we don’t do it”, furthers Sally. While walking in their pastures you can see the this is the truth. They all follow Bobby and Sally around like puppies, not to mention they, for the most part, respond to voice commands too. They vaccinated and wormed their fourteen horses in half an hour. All of them were worked out in the field, some without a halter. “The most impressive thing is their disposition.” As she told me that, Bobby showed me by gently tossing a halter on to KC’s back, and then as her head, without so much as a flinch. “The Tennessee Walking Horse is billed as the “ride of your life”, and the best part is their smooth gait,” says Sally. “they have the best disposition there is and are the most versatile horse.” That refers to the versatility of how Spotted Saddle Horse are used for cutting, roping, barrels, jumping, and working cattle.
The Sigmans and the Loftins have truly made a family business of Silhouette Farms. They all contribute equally to the effort being made. The Silhouette comes from a picture that was shot of Bobby’s KC as she was standing along the fence line. The photo of her silhouette now is the emblem of their business.
©2011 Silhouette Farms