Washington County’s newest celebrity was recently named a world champion, but he took it a step further earlier this month by being named world grand champion.
Walk Time Charlie, a five-year-old colt that was raised at Rolling Acres breeding farm in Springfield, won the 2012 World Grand Championship at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration on Sept. 1, the highest honor in the sport.
Rolling Acres owner Bob Stannard said there was never any doubt about Charlie’s potential.
“I knew he could win it, but I got what I wanted for him and it was a lot of money,” he said. “With where the economy’s been, you’re lucky to get anything out of a horse right now.”
Stannard sold Walk Time Charlie for a six-figure sum, and he was eventually purchased by his current owners for $750,000. An investment that truly shows that everyone involved with the horse knew what he was capable of.
“The group of guys who bought him knew he was that good,” Stannard said. “He got hurt as a three-year-old, but he came back as a five-year-old and won the whole thing this year.”
Walk Time Charlie was ridden by Chad Baucom and was judged on several criteria, including appearance and ability to complete on-track commands.
Stannard was thrilled when a horse bred on his farm won the ultimate prize, but Charlie wasn’t the only colt giving his former owner reason to smile.
“It was great. It was even better to have two world champions,” Stannard said. “If (Willie Twilight) hadn’t gotten sick we could’ve had two world grand champions. He would have won it with the way everybody was talking about him.”
Willie Twilight, Walk Time Charlie’s half-brother, is a two-year-old amateur that was named world champion before a life-threatening incident caused his kidneys to shut down temporarily.
The success of those horses has shined a very positive light on Rolling Acres Farm and it can only mean great things in the future for Stannard, his wife, Vicki and their son, Robby.
“It makes more trainers come to the barn to buy horses. That’s the big thing,” Stannard said. “We like to get word out around Kentucky because a lot of times there’s bad publicity (within the sport), and it’s good to have something good happening, because we do go through all of the stringent USDA inspections and we still have great horses. That’s what we work for here at this barn.”
The recent string of success is a true testament to the work that is done at Rolling Acres, as not everyone in the industry is willing to avoid shortcuts along the way.
“Not only is it competitive, but there’s a lot of stuff that goes on. We’re Christians and we don’t do some of the stuff people do,” Stannard said.
Despite an uphill battle to gain recognition, Rolling Acres Farm is doing just that, selling two horses just last week. Stannard said he recently purchased Master of Jazz – after previously selling him for $140,000 – and he will be entered in the North Carolina Walking Horse Association’s competition next month, so more accolades could be on the way for the local breeders sooner rather than later.
The Stannards moved to Springfield from Indiana 10 years ago, after getting involved with the horse industry, but that wasn’t the family’s first passion.
“My son used to drive outlaws and he was 15 years old and winning races, but he got to where he wouldn’t listen to me and he had three wrecks in a month and the last one almost killed him,” Stannard said. “We thought we’d better get into something else and we started trail riding. That’s why we moved here, we wanted to get into the show part of it.”
With a pair of world champions, that decision has proven to be a wise one for the Stannards, and whether it’s Master of Jazz, A Big Smoothy, Speak of the Master or any of the other highly-coveted colts at Rolling Acres, there’s sure to be plenty of success in the family’s future.