Breed Profiles Main Page
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
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
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.
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.
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
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,
See the MPH Association
website at: mccurdyhorses.com