Learn about the founding father of many of today’s top show horses.
Three Bars (TB) was definitely a legend. Certainly an enigma. He was praised on one hand by those who swore by his breeding, criticized on the other by those who swore at it.
For the first few years of his life, his flaws seemed to far outweigh his apparently few redeeming qualities. Though he would become a stakes-winning racehorse and the most sought-after sire of his time, one early owner was so little pleased that he actually gave the colt away.
But that was still in the future. During the 1930s, James W. Parrish had nearly 30 Thoroughbreds on his farm near Midway, a little town about 15 miles west of Lexington, Kentucky. A banker and fancier of running horses, Parrish’s herd included two stallions – Rolled Stocking (TB) and Percentage (TB) – a dozen-odd broodmares and a number of horses in various stages of training.
Read the full story of Three Bars and his most-famous progeny in the detailed report, The Three Bars (TB) Bloodline.
Of the two stallions, Parrish particularly liked Percentage, a tall, sleek 16-year-old who had won 19 races, including several stakes and handicaps, and $42,187. In 1939, Parrish bred Percentage to several of his mares, one of whom was the fleet-footed Myrtle Dee, who held the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs at the old Coney Island Track in Cincinnati.
Parrish, never to see the fruit of that cross, died that fall. His widow, in the course of settling his estate, dispersed the herd the following spring. About two weeks before the sale, Jack Goode, Ned Brent and Bill Talbot offered to buy Myrtle Dee and two other mares in an $800 package deal.
Mrs. Parrish sold them the mares, and several days later, on April 8, 1940, Myrtle Dee foaled her colt. They named him Three Bars in hopes that he’d pay off like a slot machine. In due time, Goode put the young chestnut stallion in training.
“The colt obviously had some speed,” Goode said in the September 1957 issue of The Quarter Horse Journal, “but whenever he turned it on, he would come back to the barn with the muscle of a hind leg restricted, and the flesh feeling cold, as if the circulation were cut off. I tried everything, but couldn’t overcome the difficulty. We finally sold him to Beckham Stivers for $300, to be paid if Three Bars ever won.”
“Thank you for researching and spending the time to trace the history of Three Bars. As much as we all want to move forward and progress, there is a wonderful sense of achievement and acknowledgement to honor the past and the greatness that helped us become proud today. My dun mare is a decendent of Three Bars and has had a very successful performance record here in New Zealand. Now she is in foal with her fifth foal, and all have been wonderful progeny. Many horses here in NZ are from these bloodlines, and have had wonderful careers and been great companions to many enthusiastic owners. As we have up until recent times required that our one Quarter Horse compete in many of the different western disciplines, and due to the great mind and trainable acceptance of the Quarter Horse, this has been possible.
So, thanks for supplying this information so I can fill in a page of my horse’s history and the history of many NZ horses and clubs here.
Find out how Three Bars turned a rocky start into a legendary career as a sire.
Get AQHA’s Three Bars (TB) Bloodline report.
I have a 30-years-young granddaughter of Three Bars, Skips Ole Dogood. Sired by the old man, she still can kick up her heels with the youngsters. She has produced some very worthy foals, who are still out there earning their groceries. Her son, Skips Ole Poco Pine, was herd sire for us and produced some great AQHA offspring. What great temperaments. Speed and athleticism — we found these atributes second to none. Three Bars, your success as a sire is alive and well in the decendents you left in your wake. The true testomony to his greatness is that the legend continues.