Unbridled Enthusiasm For Saddlebred Horses

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
One step into Billy Greenwell’s den, and it is evident what he is passionate about. There isn’t a large-screen TV or a pool table. Instead the room is a showcase of his long career as a professional horseman. The Warsaw man is a fifth generation trainer, breeder, judge and owner of American Saddlebred horses, and  his  walls are covered with awards and pictures of champion show horses that he has trained. One photo is of Imperator, who was the Best Saddlebred horse in the World’s Fair, New Orleans in 1984. Another picture is a charcoal of a thoroughbred Saddlebred horse drawn by famous equine artist George Ford Morris who was a guest of Billy Greenwell’s Great Grandfather Hiram Greenwell in 1911. Greenville appears in some of the photos riding a champion, or riding in a carriage being drawn by a champion.
Greenwell’s den also has a lighted, glass cabinet filled with trophies that he and his horses have won. One of the trophies had to be won three times before Greenwell was allowed to keep it. To add to the ambiance of the room is a coffee table with a wagon-wheeled top, bookcases filled with books and magazines on horses and horsemen, and a red brick fireplace with the potential for a cozy fire on a cold night.
Greenwell  has put his stamp on countless show ring champions for more than 40 years. So it is no surprise that he was recently inducted into the United Professional Horseman’s Association (UPHA) Chapter V Hall of Fame. 
He began riding horses at the age of eight at his grandfather Welch’s famed Broadacre’s Farm in Shelbina, Missouri. His father, Carol, tutored him in horse training techniques causing him to develop a great enthusiasm for entering that field of work. Greenwell spent a few years grooming for his dad at Green Oaks Farm in Georgia, and the two worked over two years for the historic Alvin C. Ruxer Farms, in Jasper, Indiana. Then, they returned to Missouri and operated Hatfield Ranch, where Greenwell met and married his wife Kelley. He then ventured out and honed his skills under renowned horsemen including Johnny Lucas. In 1987, Greenwell accepted the training duties at Redwing Farm, where for over a decade he was seen in the winner’s circle at some of the nation’s top shows. Then he spent time in other parts of the country at various farms, and operated his own business with oldest daughter, Karen, at Woodhaven farm in Illinois for seven years. He eventually returned to Missouri where he and youngest daughter, Katie, continued to develop and train top horses for several years.
Greenwell trained many great horses including WC Sinatra, WC Family Jewels, WGC Imperator, and WC Callaway’s Sweet Thing. He has also raised or owned several show ring winners including WC Sunken Treasure, WC New York Skyline and Forty Nights. He has served 30 years as a U. S. Equine Federation (USEF) member and renowned judge, and has officiated at many shows including the World Championships at the Kentucky State Fair.
The Greenwell family has produced a succession of great horsemen beginning with founder of the clan, George Greenville, of White Sulphur, Kentucky. He moved to Monroe County, Missouri in 1838 with his foundation stock from which the family developed one of the most famous Saddle horse studs in America. His son, Hiram A. Greenwell, was a great success too and bred his mares to old champion Rex McDonald producing a great collection of Saddle stallion champions.
Hiram A. Greenwell’s son was Welch Greenwell. He showed many fine horses and his greatest thrill was winning the World’s Grand Championship, $10,000, Five-Gaited Stake, at Louisville, with Easter Serenade. Working with their dad were sons Carol, and Hiram, who also knew their horses and kept the 1400 acres of Broadacres Farm and horses in perfect shape. Carol was Billy Greenvwell’s father.
The American Saddlebred, that the Greenwells specialize in, is a horse breed from the U.S. It is descended from riding-type horses bred at the time of the American Revolution, and includes many champions in its ancestry. It is usually 60 to 64 inches in height, and is known for a sense of presence and style, as well as for its spirited, yet gentle temperament. It can be any color, and is considered a gaited breed since some Saddlebreds are bred and trained to perform four-beat ambling gaits. 
A whole equine industry is involved in preparing Saddlebreds and other horses for shows. Breeders plan the mating or assisted reproduction of horses to improve or maintain certain characteristics of a breed over several generations, or to produce offspring with desired traits, like speed, strength, color or behavior. Horse trainers teach them to follow specific cues and riding commands, they correct behavioral issues, manage their diets and oversee exercise regimes. In some cases this business has been carried on in families for many generations, and one of the oldest is the Greenwell family.
Billy Greenwell is currently doing some freelance work in the industry and keeps his judge’s license and membership in UPHA, USEF, and several other equine associations.. He said that a lot of his time is now spent fishing and participating in fishing tournaments.
Daughter, Karen Greenwell, is now the sixth generation of the Greenwell family training American Saddlebred horses. She is a trainer-instructor with Smoke Hollow Farm in Pittstown, New Jersey.