February 26, 2010
He was a Blue-Ribbon stallion with a heart of gold.
By Honi Roberts in The American Quarter Horse Journal
When Greg and Mary Whalen sold their pretty sorrel mare Page Boys Pearl to Duane “Dude” Noble, they retained the first right of refusal on the mare’s first colt.
It proved to be stellar foresight after Dude’s daughter and their farm manager, Tommy Ryan, guided the fancy mare to three AQHA world championships, earning performance and halter points in a show career that included 60 grand and 14 reserve grand championships. The Whalens weren’t disappointed, either, when Dude bred her to Pretty Impressive.“He was one of the two or three best sons of Impressive,” says Greg, an AQHA Professional Horseman. “A badly damaged knee had ended any possibility of a show career, but that wasn’t something passed on genetically. He was a gorgeous horse, and Charlie Dobbs and Tommy Manion – two smart horsemen – discovered him.”
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On February 1, 1982, Page Boys Pearl gave birth to Page Impressive. The Whalens hoped that one day he would be the perfect cross on mares by their AQHA world champion halter stallion, Smooth Town.
“Page Impressive was a really nice colt,” Greg says. “Although, when we first saw him – in a pasture with other colts – his tail was chewed off, and he didn’t look worth the money we paid!”
At 9 months, “Page” moved to the Whalens’ Blue Ribbon Farms in Clements, California, his home for the rest of his long life.
“He was kind and smart,” Mary recalls, “and never pinned his ears or was naughty.”
“Page was fun to show, too,” Greg remembers. “At 15.3 hands, he wasn’t big by today’s standards – but big enough – and so correct. He had great hocks, a deep heart and long hip line. He was just a neat horse!”
Greg showed Page Impressive through his 3-year-old year. He earned his Superior in halter and 45 grand championships. After they won at the Cow Palace, Page Impressive was retired to stud.
“Not long afterward, a young man working for us asked if he could ride Page,” Greg says with a chuckle. “He’d worked for Dick Shrake and was a good hand, so I said, ‘Sure.’ He ponied colts off him, then asked if he could take him down to the Stockton show grounds and ride around. He did and came home with quite a few bookings to Page!”
The Whalens noted that the stallion consistently improved on the mares brought to him, and that amateurs frequently trained his colts, because they were so good-minded and easy-going.
Both Whalens grew up with horses: Mary’s father raised horses, and she became an AQHA member more than 60 years ago; Greg’s dad bought and sold horses for the U.S. Army Remount program, and as a young man, Greg rodeoed professionally for a dozen years.
“We grew up with a respect for horses,” he says. “We try to understand their minds, and strongly believe in daily turnout and letting a horse be a horse – carefully, not carelessly. Page was hauled to shows with other studs and stalled across the barn aisle from Smooth Town, his best friend for 20 years.”
“Page showed his priorities one time when he got out,” Mary recalls a twinkle in her eyes. “It was spring, and we had about 120 mares at the farm. Someone put Page in the arena overnight but left the gate open. The next morning, he was next to our house, contentedly eating grass – he couldn’t have cared less about the mares! Greg was upset because it’d rained, and Page was sinking into our beautiful lawn!”
Page Impressive’s first AQHA world champion was Yellow Page in western riding and later Platinum Page, AQHYA world champion trail horse. Multi-AQHA world champion Mr Yella Fella by Page Impressive and out of the Smooth Town daughter, Lets Skip Town, has been the nation’s leading sire of open halter winners and open point-earning halter horses since 2005 and is currently owned by Gary and Linda Gordon of Fossil Gate Farms.
“Mr Yella Fella is everything we hoped for the Page Impressive-Smooth Town cross,” Greg says.
Page Impressive sired 586 foals during his long, productive life. They’ve earned 10,065.5 halter points and 2,478 performance points; 182 halter ROMs and 40 performance awards. He died in April 2009 at 27.
“One of the nicest horses I’ve had the good fortune to own,” Greg concludes.
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