Sundance 500 International
Sundance 500 International
The Story of Sundance F-500
By Mary Manley

Sundance F-500 represents the spirit of the colorful, friendly, athletic and versatile Appaloosa. This is his story.

Owner Phil Jenkins

Sundance F-500 was foaled high on  a mountain in northern Colorado in May 1932, about ten miles west of Estes Park. His dam, Cheeco, was a small black mustang type mare that had been caught wild in the Four Corners area. Cheeco was a favorite of her owner Phil Jenkins, who had bought her out of the band of fresh-caught mustangs in 1929.

The mare gave every appearance of being pure Spanish mustang breeding.  Cheeco had a long, slender neck with a high crest, little fox ears, a trim Arabian-type head, a long, sloping shoulder, short back, long underline, long full hip and slender flat-boned legs set on small, flint-hard feet. She weighed 800 pounds and stood 14.2 hands. Her shiny black coat was dappled with even darker spots and she displayed mottled skin and had the white sclera encircling her eyes. It took three months to break her, but at the end of that time, Cheeco would come to her owner on command out of the pasture and had become a fine cutting horse.

In 1931, Jenkins bred Cheeco to the chestnut leopard stallion Daylight, owned by Charles Cummins of Kersey, Colorado. Daylight had been sired by the renowned chestnut leopard stallion known as the Starbuck Leopard of Evergreen, Colorado. Both of these leopard stallions predate the Appaloosa Stud Books, but their progeny can be found throughout the Appaloosa world today.

Daylight's dam was a purebred bay Thoroughbred mare sired by  Sands of Time, a grand old thoroughbred stallion who stood at the Colorado Springs Remount Station. Sands of Time's bloodline went back to *Rock Sand and Alma K. The cross of the fine hot blood and the Spanish-Barb mustang breeding, with a double infusion of Appaloosa genes, produced some excellent horses and Sundance F-500 was a prime example.

Upon discovering Cheeco's disappearance from her pasture, Phil Jenkins rode up Mt. Chiquita looking for his mare and found her with the only foal she would ever produce. He was dazzled by the week-old colt's snow white coat covered with a thousand blood red spots. The foal was immediately named Sundance, the only name that fit him.

In addition to his outstanding coloration, Sundance displayed high intelligence and a gentle disposition, and he grew up as a favored animal, maturing at 15 hands and weighing about 1000 pounds. Phil Jenkins spent many hours teaching the young stallion a large repertoire of tricks which included untying the handkerchief, a number of counting tricks, walking the stair steps, answering questions with a yes or no, laying down and playing dead, jumping hurdles, rearing and racing a horse with a rider around a 1/2 mile track while Sundance carried no rider. These tricks were all learned before the stallion was five years old and most of them he never forgot.

Sundance was also a using ranch horse. He was willing to tackle any job from calf roping to elk hunting, speed enough to rope a coyote or do the half mile in 49:7 seconds, gentle enough for a child to ride, plus his duties  as a herd sire, passing all this on to his get. The leopard stallion soon  proved his prepotency, siring outstanding foals with a large percentage  born with easily recognizable Appaloosa coloration. To this day, the  Sundance line is known as one of the foundations of athletic, versatile,  color bloodlines.

Life As A Remount Stallion

Owner John Whisanad

Phil Jenkins had 20 of his foals when he sold Sundance in 1937 to John Whisanad and an agent of the government to use as a rehabilitation stallion out of the Colorado Springs Remount Station. The depression and Great Plains drought of the thirties had forced many stockmen to destroy their livestock. In an effort to offer assistance, the government made available loans to establish stallion depots to help replenish the livestock. Sundance was chosen to be used on  saddle-type mares after the government agent and Whisanad had inspected many stallions of other breeds. The agent felt that Sundance was "...the best all around saddle-type stud they had seen."

Sundance was owned by Whisanad of Orchard, Colorado, for about ten years. During this time, the leopard stallion was hauled throughout the Rocky Mountain area at the convenience of widely scattered mare owners from New Mexico to Wyoming. While this does not seem a major feat by today's standards, horse transportation left a lot to be desired in the late 1930s and early 40s. Sundance undoubtedly spent many a miserable hour in open-topped, open-sided trailer boxes or standing in the bed of a pickup truck.

The late P.S. "Doc" Edwards related a story pertaining to Sundance while owned by Whisanad. The stallion was kept in a stall at night and turned out into a small pasture during the day when not traveling. The pasture was enclosed by a single strand of barbed wire, which adequately confined Sundance during the day. When evening came, John or his brother Raymond, with only a halter, would mount the horse, jump over the strand of wire and return him to the barn. Edwards said that he never knew of the stallion to leave the pasture on his own.

Sundance's Last Home

Owner P.S. 'Doc' Edwards

In 1947 or 1948, Whisanad traded Sundance and two of his young sons to Edwards for some cattle. It was while he was owned by Edwards that Sundance was registered with the Appaloosa Club and received the foundation number 500. Ben Johnson, a Director of the Appaloosa Horse Club  at the time, was instrumental in convincing "Doc" to register Sundance and a son, Woodrow Sheik F-502.

At the time Edwards acquired Sundance, the Appaloosa breed was little known, and "Doc" made no effort to exploit the leopard stallion.  Sundance was used extensively as a saddle horse and only a few mares were bred to him during this period. He worked stock, was on occasion a parade horse and was a pleasure horse ridden by most visitors to the Edwards' ranch in Woodrow, Colorado. He was suitable for either experienced or novice riders. Harry Edwards, a son of "Doc" Edwards, remembers many pleasurable experiences with the leopard stallion as his playmate and saddle horse.

Starbuck Leopard.
Starbuck Leopard
Sundance F-500
Sundance F 500 with
Ben Johnson up
The picture below is of Mrs. Rev. Dan Jensen from Elk River, Minnesota. Her husband was an avid Appaloosa fan and every year on their summer vacations they traveled allover the U.S. and visited Appaloosa breeders.  This picture was taken around1950 at the ranch of Doc Edwards in Ft. Morgan, Colorado.
Catch The Sundance Spirit!

Post Script

During his lifetime, Sundance F-500 sired many outstanding get, but only 13 were registered with the Appaloosa Horse Club. These include:  Stardust F-50, Fort Waskie F-109, Leopard Lady F-167, Woodrow Sheik F-502, Rocking Chair Porter F-574, Sunshine F-1290, Sundust F-1335, Black Leopard F-1569, Mi Wacon F-1892, Chaffin's Sundance F-3180, Winnie F-4232 (advanced from T-2976), Daddy 'O T-4859 and Doc's Mohawk T-120584.

Many outstanding Appaloosas can trace their pedigree back to Sundance F-500, horses such as Wego Melody, Brent Lea, Scooter Bug G, Bo Mar's Jo Star, Bambi E, Sunspot Revel, Easy We Go, Shavano, Three Chicks, Jr., Patchy Jr., Ha-Dar Shado, Ringlord, PT's Bold Design, Nevada Sundancer (Australia), Indian Hills Rejoicing (first colored Appaloosa foaled in New Zealand) just to mention a few.

In 1988, during Sundance "500" International's 15th anniversary and in celebration of the Appaloosa Horse Club's 50th Anniversary, Sundance F-500 was inducted into the Appaloosa Horse Club's Hall of Fame.  The Sundance '500' Organization.

Sundance '500' International, a worldwide organization of persons interested in promoting and preserving the Sundance bloodline, was established in 1973. The organization has had members in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe and is now the oldest organization of its kind, celebrating its 25th anniversary  in 1998.

Sundance '500' welcomes membership from anyone who is interested in the Appaloosa. Sundance F-500 represents the spirit of the Appaloosa  and one does not have to own a Sundance bred horse to join the Sundance family.

Whether owned by a one horse owner, or a well-known breeder, Sundance horses continue to give as much pleasure to their owners today as did their progenitor, Sundance F-500 to his owners many years ago. The spirit of Sundance lives on in the history of the Appaloosa and in the sharing of its future.
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