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Foundation Quarter Horse History

Foundation Quarter Horse - Traveler
AQHA Hall of Fame Stallion

Karen Griffith Farms · 34440 State Route 7 · Pomeroy, Ohio  45769
Call: (740) 992-5782 · E-mail: griffith@frognet.net


 Traveler- Foundation Quarter Horse - AQHA Hall of Fame Stallion

Traveler (1900?) - AQHA Hall of Fame Stallion

It is most unusual, although not without precedence, for an unknown sire to beget a strain of horses. One such was Justin Morgan; another, Old Fred. Traveler, could be listed as the third, for he is a sire who came out of nowhere to establish a strain of Texas Quarter Horses. From the ignominious position of pulling a scraper on the Texas and Pacific Railway, he rose to become the great Quarter Horse sire of his generation.

Traveler's history has been traced back to Eastland County, Texas, where he was working on the railway. He was just a sorrel work horse in a large remuda owned by the contractor. It has never been adequately explained just how it happened that a stallion was allowed with the horses, but there is no disagreement on this part of the story.7 Traveler was not a young horse when he left the railroad -- his age has been estimated at between eight and ten. He had to be broken to the saddle, even though trace-chain marks showed on his side and collar marks on his shoulders. He had been worked plenty but not ridden. According to one old-timer, he pitched terrifically but showed great intelligence and soon quieted down.

There are several stories about how he happened to leave the railroad. One has a man named Self trading a mule for him and driving him home hitched to the wagon with the remaining mule. Soon he was racing. One of his first races was against a mare named Mayflower. Will Crutchfield rode Mayflower. Bob Berry tells in a single sentence how the race came out: "Crutchfield could not have thrown a rock off Mayflower and touched Traveler's Dust."8

Still another story has John Cooper and Brown Seay, who owned a saloon in Granbury, Texas, buying Traveler. One day Cooper drove to San Angelo in a buggy with a mule team. He noticed Traveler working the railway fill pulling a fresno and admired him. He stopped on the spot and traded one of his mules for Traveler. When he got back to Granbury, he called his partner out to see Traveler, and they went for a ride. When Seay tapped the mule with the buggy whip the horse stepped out. Then Seay remarked, "He sure is some traveler." According to this account, that is how he was named.

In all of the stories, Brown Seay owned Traveler for a time, and while Seay owned him he ran one of his best races against Bob Wilson, the top Quarter Horse in Central Texas. When he beat Wilson, his fame was made. Everyone who saw him commented on his powerful rear end. In a letter to me, George Clegg said that Traveler had "the shortest back and biggest butt"9 he had ever seen on a saddle horse. He added that he was a speckled sorrel and bred colts with gray hairs in their tails. He also bred quite a few colts with glass eyes. He bred his last colt in 1911.

Curiously, if it had not been for two mares, Fanny Pace and Jenny, Traveler might not have been considered the great sire he was. With Fanny as a dam, he sired Judge Thomas, Judge Welch, and Buster Brown, who was also known as Jack Tolliver. Bred to Jenny, he produced Little Joe, King or Possum, and Black Bess. None of his other colts ever came near to equaling any of these six.

Little Joe sired Zantanon, Joe Moore, Cotton Eyed Joe, and many others. Zantanon sired Hankin's King, Chico, San Simeon, Sonny Kimball, and many more. Possum sired Guinea Pig, who sired Tony, and Red Cloud, who in turn sired Mark.

Other of Traveler's well-known get were El Rey, Booger Red, Old Crawford, Texas Chief, John Gardner, and Chulo Mundo.

Traveler passed through several hands after he left Brown Seay, who was interested in him primarily as a running horse. For a while, he was used as a ranch stallion and bred mares on Chris Seale's ranch near Baird, Texas. Traveler left the San Angelo country about 1903, staying briefly at Comanche, Big Lake, and Sweetwater. From Sweetwater, he was taken to South Texas by Will and Dow Shely of Alfred. Truly, Traveler was an exceptional horse.

7 Traveler was for the most part a mystery horse. Well-known writers have offered contradictory stories concerning him. Those interested in Traveler would do well to read Lewis Nordyke, "Traveler Country," The Quarter Horse Journal, December, 1954, and Nelson C Nye, The Complete Book of the Quarter Horse, 215-26.

8 Nye, ibid., 216

9 Letter dated in Alice, Texas, on December 14, 1939. Denhart Files, Clegg Folder.

This story was taken from the book by Robert Moorman Denhardt - Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries. (For more reading, check out another book by Denhardt - The King Ranch Quarter Horses.)


Karen Griffith Farms · 34440 State Route 7 · Pomeroy, Ohio  45769
Call: (740) 992-5782 · E-mail: griffith@frognet.net
Web site: www.karengriffith.com

Copyright © 1973 - 2009 by Karen Griffith. All rights reserved.

Content by Karen Griffith