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McCurdy Plantation Horse
by Colleen Cates

Resembling a scene from Gone With The Wind, Spanish Moss drapes from the trees like faded, grey lace. Beautiful Greek Revival mansions and elaborate raised cottages of the picturesque antebellum town of Lowndesboro, Alabama, are a part of the deep southern heritage of days both past and present.

Amid this pastoral setting resides a family whose horses have acquired esteem and respect throughout central Alabama during the past 100 years -- meet the McCurdy Plantation Horse.

In the late 1800's, the Ed S. McCurdy family of Lowndesboro (located between Montgomery and Selma) began breeding a line of saddle horses suitable for overseeing their vast plantation in Lowndes County.

A grey stallion foaled in 1905 became the foundation sire. McCurdy's Dr. McLain, a.k.a. Doctor, TWH#F-79, was bred to some of the finest gaited mares in Central Alabama. At age 25 he was ridden to the State Fair in Montgomery, 20 miles away. Two of his outstanding sons were John McCurdy and McCurdy's Fox, also greys.

Registered in the '30s

In the 1930's, the McCurdy family horses were registered as foundation stock in the newly formed Tennessee Walking Horse Association. Neighboring plantation owners and workers bred their fine gaited mares to the prepotent McCurdy stallions, thus creating an unregistered line that became well-known throughout the region, and remains so to this day.

In the spring of 1993, a trio of veteran field trialers and horsemen came together in an effort to preserve and promote the old McCurdy Plantation Horse breed. J. Richard McDuffy, Sr., of Aiken, South Carolina, Roy A. Rogers, of Greenville, Ala., and Ron H. Mann of Cullman, Ala., met at Hoyt Henley's lodge in Hayneville, Ala., to bring their vision to life.

Mr. Lewis H. McCurdy of Lowndesboro and Edwards S. McCurdy, Jr. of Selma were also part of the pioneering team effort to make the McCurdy Plantation Horse Association what it is today and into the year 2000. A. Grey Till, Jr., of Birmingham, completed the effort by providing legal counsel and technical support.

In concert with the McCurdy family, guidelines were set in 1993 for the Association and a breed registry was opened in 1995. The first annual McCurdy Trail Ride, considered an historical event, was held that year in Lowndesboro on the family plantation property. The trail ride is now a bi-annual event. The October, 1999 Fall Ride, hosted by the Southern Sportsman Hunting Lodge on Hwy 80, amassed 190 riders on all breeds of horses. Members came from Texas, South Carolina, and all points in between.

Interest is rapidly growing

Interest in the McCurdy horse is rapidly growing on a national and international level. The horse is versatile and excels as a field trial mount. Veteran field trialers and dog handlers in Central Alabama and the Southeast highly value their McCurdy bred horses.

Outstanding characteristics of the McCurdy horse include a calm, intelligent disposition. Tremendous fortitude of mind and body plus a natural smooth gait are assets of the breed. Many exhibit natural "cow savvy" and cowherding instincts.

One foundation stallion, Big Red, (1970-1977) belonging to cattleman, Dickson Farrior, of Hayneville, Alabama, was a prime cow horse. Once "locked on" a cow, he would not give up until it was roped or penned. No cow or Quarter Horse ever bested Big Red.

Other working stallions have served in this capacity as well. Go Boy McCurdy and McCurdy's Buddy, owned by the Edward S. McCurdy, Jr. family of Selma, along with numerous other horses have served their owners well.

The McCurdy horse is known for its common sense work ethic and does not waste energy in a frivolous manner. It is the horse that stands quietly while the dog is on point or the judge is making his evaluation. The horse is a delight to his rider as a field or a gallery mount.

The McCurdy horse is a using horse. Outside the rigorous demands of the field trialing world the horse serves in a variety of disciplines. Versatility is a trademark of the breed. Other owners use their McCurdy horses for pleasure and trail riding, working cattle, and riding fences, babysitting children, driving, jumping, 4-H project horses and performing speed events.

Shown at gaited-horse shows

A few are being shown in English and Western Pleasure at gaited-horse shows with great success. Some McCurdy horses are also registered as Tennessee Walking Horses and as commissioned Racking Horses.

The McCurdy horse ranges in height from 14.2 to 16 hands, averaging 15 hands. Horses are generally refined in appearance with a rounded hip and broad chest, short back, heavy manes and tails and good bone.

The McCurdy lick is a four-beat lateral gait with a nice overstriding back end and stylish breaking of the knee in the front -- just as the naturally gaited plantation horses traveled of yesteryear.

Depending upon its conformation. the gait executed by the McCurdy Plantation Horse may be the running walk, single-foot, a natural rack or an ambling stepping pace. The McCurdy is noted for giving a safe, secure, smooth ride in any terrain or condition. Newborn foals perform the gait naturally from birth and can be seen "hitting 'the lick" alongside their dam.

The color grey is prevalent among the breed. There are also many bay roans and red roans. Solid colors of Chestnut, sorrel, bay and black complete the palette of colors. White markings below the knee and on the face are common.

McCurdy foals are usually born a solid base color and may grey or roan out by the age of three to six years. At full maturity the grey horse usually becomes a silvery white. Grey horses have black skin.

For further information on this historic breed and trail riding events contact:

Edward S. McCurdy, Jr. (Ed)
Selma, Alabama
(334) 872-5412
E-mail:    or
Colleen Cates
Athens, Texas
(902) 677-4858

See the MPH Association website at: