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Rex McDonald, Saddlebred who scared the competition.


A painting Rex McDonald at the rack by George Ford Morris.

Rex McDonald - A black Saddlebred who won as many hearts as ribbons and titles.


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Rex McDonald, a magnificent, 16 hand black Saddlebred stallion had that unnamable something as he flashed into the show ring that brought people to their feet in recognition of his animation, beauty and “presence”. He was that blue black that is so reflective both in sunlight or the lights of center ring. Further, no one could fault any of his five gaits and he won innumerable times in harness, model rings, and as a gaited horse. He did everything so naturally, including his high tail, yet he filled the eye of all onlookers as though he were constantly on dress parade. Many words were written of his excellence and he won the hearts of professional horsemen, breeders and all show ring audiences.

The sire of Rex McDonald was Rex Denmark who was an incredible show horse of his day and one of the most remarkable of Saddlebred stallions at stud. As Rex Denmark was making his mark in the show ring, the owner of an equally great stallion Black Squirrel, was planning the future. Joe McDonald fully intended for his Black Squirrel to produce a mare slated for Rex Denmark’s court for the purpose of breeding the best show horse the world had ever known.

A chestnut filly Lucy Mack out of one of McDonald’s mares and by his stallion Black Squirrel, was mated when only 3 yrs old to Rex Denmark, to produce Rex McDonald. Mr. McDonald was always sure of what he had produced in these planned breedings, and had total faith in the colt that was born in 1890. Unfortunately his age and health necessitated the sale of that colt as a weanling.

When the young stallion began to hit the show rings, his fame began to spread and grew greater and greater with each year. He even defeated his sire in the show ring at St. Louis fair and Rex Denmark, the sire, was in the habit of winning at St. Louis so it was a real upset but one that no one could context as both the judge and the audience were electrified by the performance of the younger Rex McDonald. This particular performance convinced the owner of Rex Denmark that he must own this fine son of his stallion and eventually he was able to do so, although he sold him later.

During Rex’s first season at stud, he bred 96 mares but was still the superb show ring champion. Showing at St. Louis again, he was considered the best and most beautiful Saddlebred on the A head study of Rex McDonald painted by George Ford Morris grounds. He went on to both stand and stud and win championships in the ring. He met and defeated all the great horses of his day before finally retiring from showing because no one would show against him. In an attempt to get entries, shows stated in their prize lists that Rex McDonald would not show.

The stallion’s last owner was B. R. Middleton who lived in the state in which the stallion has been planned and born. Mr. Middleton had waited a long time to be able to secure the purchase of the now very famous and highly valued stallion. When the horse returned to Mexico, Missouri, the whole city turned out to do him home and to celebrate.

Rex McDonald died in 1913 and a monument was erected to him. He had already created his own monument though with his remarkable prepotency of Saddlebred blood and the fidelity with which he stamped this upon his progeny. He was a champion show horse for more than a decade and produced sons and daughters who were champions and they in turn produced champions. He made money for everyone who owned him; he broke records for money won and for money spent to own him. Over 200 of his sons were registered and a virtual family of ongoing good bloodstock infused the Saddlebred breed. Rex McDonald also brought popularity to his breed winning hearts where ever he went, with his brilliance of presence and perfection of all five gaits.

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