Riding with the big boysWinning Colors Stables brings home championships
There’s serious horsepower at Winning Colors Stables in Lake Junaluska.
In late September, Eddie and Cindy Bryant took five horses to the Racking Horse World Celebration in Decatur, Alabama. The couple brought home a slew of accolades, including two world grand championships — and in the racking horse world, that’s the equivalent of winning the Superbowl, especially to the Bryants, who show horses out of passion and not as a profession.
“For a little old barn in Haywood County to play with those big boys, it’s amazing,” said Eddie.
The Bryants’ day jobs are in Haywood County — Eddie is a senior lineman for Haywood EMC, and Cindy deals with sales, purchasing and scheduling at Haywood Appliance — but when they get home, they can almost always be found at their barn with their racking horses, conditioning their stock.
“It is very hard and time consuming work, but the rewards are amazing,” said Cindy, who started riding racking horses at 8 and showing the animals at 10. “The joy of having and working with such special animals and the feeling that we know we have done things the right way is a feeling like no other.”
The “rack” of racking horses is unique because it is neither a pace nor a trot. Only one foot strikes the ground at a time, making for a smooth and natural gait, and a racking horse comes to its gait as easily as walking or striking a bold trot comes to other breeds.
“These horses are the Ferraris of the horse world,” said Eddie. “There’s no other horsepower like it.”
In addition to the two world grand championships, the Bryants also brought home four preliminary world championships, one reserve (2nd) world grand championship, two preliminary reserve world championships and two third-place world grand championship class ribbons. The couple’s success at the world celebration this year can be attributed to their efforts in conditioning the horses and also to the quality stock they have acquired over the years. For example, Parole’s Promise, an 8-year-old grey roan stallion purchased by Eddie about four years ago, was crowned the specialty action amateur world grand champion out of 16 other horses. What makes this accomplishment even more impressive is that Parole is trained by the Bryants themselves and not a professional trainer — and at the celebration this year, Cindy and Parole were the only amateur-owned and trained combination in the class.
The Bryants also brought Oopsy Daisy, a 5-year-old black mare and the half sister of Parole, to the celebration. Daisy was the only horse of the five to win both her preliminary and championship classes this year, and, as Eddie said, she proved that she “can hold her own against any of the boys in the barn.”
In addition to Parole and Daisy, this year the Bryants also showed Promises Doin’ Time (“Lyn”), Painted By Pzazz (“Pzazz”) and The Masters Choice (“M.C.”) at the celebration, and they were all recognized for their accomplishments.
For the Bryants, showing racking horses has brought recognition to their small barn in Lake Junaluska, but more importantly, it’s become something that has strengthened the couple’s relationship.
“[Cindy] is my best friend,” said Eddie, who had experience with Arabians but quickly changed over to racking horses after he met Cindy more than 20 years ago. “You couldn’t do this if you didn’t have both parties so invested. We’re together all the time.”
Now that winter is coming, what’s next for the Bryants’ racking horses?
“They — and us — are all looking forward to a break,” Cindy said. “They get to have their shoes off and share time in our boarded riding ring to enjoy being just horses until spring. Then we get to start all over again.”