Book Review: More Than Color


Readers interested in gaining a deeper understanding about the American Paint Horse and the outstanding horses that had the biggest impact on shaping the breed can learn a lot from More than Color: Paint Horse Legends, an informative new book by Frank Holmes.

Few people would argue that the American Paint Horse is one of the most attractive horse breeds in the world. A magnificent spectrum of colors and an endless variety of coat patterns have contributed to the horse’s widespread popularity.

Vibrant and colorful coats, however, are far from the only characteristics that have endeared this magnificent breed to hundreds of thousands of Paint Horse owners in 43 nations over the past 40 years. In More than Color: Paint Horse Legends, Holmes details not only the looks, but the lives of 18 Paint Horse foundation stallions, mares and geldings who established the American Paint Horse as a distinct breed.

A noted author and equine historian, Holmes tells the story about Paints by delving into the lives of the remarkable foundation horses, citing not only their accomplishments but also the physical and mental attributes that made them so special. At the same time, Holmes explores the lives of the trainers, owners and breeders who were associated with these horses. The work represents one of the most comprehensive biographical sketches ever written about American Paint Horses.

In personal interviews with Holmes, pioneer Paint Horse breeders and owners tell first-hand about their “one-in-a-million” horses that helped establish the bloodlines, conformation and performance standards for Paints today.

“I have always been fascinated by the infinite variety of colors in American Paint Horses,” said Holmes. “And I have found over the years that the people who chose to champion the cause of these horses were just as colorful.

“There was a certain mindset among the people who helped establish the American Paint Horse breed 40 years ago. They were people who were a bit more inclined to be independent than some of the other breeders of their time. These were the kind of people who weren’t afraid to take up the cause for the underdog. They liked to be daring and found the whole experience exhilarating.”

Included in the book is the story of Junior Robertson, who with his sorrel Paint Horse Wahoo King set the standard for top roping horses in the 1960s. “And back in those days, it wasn’t a fashionable or popular idea to show up in the rodeo arena with a Paint,” said Holmes.

“Junior was always a good-natured man and took a lot of kidding from people before he entered an arena to compete,” said Holmes, “but they weren’t kidding around after he came out.

“It all came down to who got the calf tied the quickest, and Junior and Wahoo King were the best at that. They became widely renowned on the pro rodeo circuit.”

Rebecca Lockhart, founder of the American Paint Stock Horse Association, which later became the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), is a big part of the More than Color story. Legendary breeder Hank Wiescamp and his stallion Skip Hi are also featured in the book, as is Jack Campbell and his famous stallion Painted Robin. The bloodlines of several thousand Paint Horses, among them numerous world-class competitors, can be traced to those horses.

“Wiescamp and Campbell were people who knew that horses with color were easier to sell than plain brown horses,” said Holmes. “They were willing to take a chance and stake their reputations on breeding and selling Paint Horses. They were well-respected, and they didn’t disappoint. These men and their horses brought a lot of credibility to the breed.”

An equine writer who has spent 30 years writing about famous horses, owners and trainers, Holmes worked several years as a features editor for the Paint Horse Journal. The author spent four years writing More than Color and has two follow-up books planned over the next four years. He said the additional More than Color volumes would spotlight outstanding Paints through the years, progressing in time to those achieving remarkable accomplishments today.

“Frank Holmes has had the unique opportunity to become closely associated with the breed and many of the people who were responsible for establishing all those desirable traits that characterize Paints today,” said Jim Kelley, APHA executive secretary.

“When people think of American Paint Horses, they recognize them for their beauty, sound conformation, outstanding abilities in the show ring, versatility, calm temperament and willing dispositions.

“These qualities were first and foremost on the minds of APHA’s early founders and breeders when they established the association in 1962. As a result of their efforts, the Paint Horse has become one of the most treasured horses in the world, experiencing phenomenal growth.

“Frank gives us a personal look at the lives of the people and Paint Horses who helped make that happen,” said Kelley.

To read a sample chapter from the book and to view some of the historical photographs, click here.

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