Milt & Mary Decker's memories of Alice Pratt
She rode her horse about eight miles to grade school when the weather wasn't too terrible. Near Bell Fource (sp), SD. After eight grades, she opted to help her Dad with the ranch and help send her sister on to high school. Like many, she educated herself after that, and in those days, eight years of grade school amounted to quite an education.
My very first visit to Mrs. Pratt's was late March of a terrible long and cold winter. Her horses looked awful, but that lady was a gem. Along about June, we went back and those skinny, dirty, and shaggy beasts had shed off, fattened up, and delivered some beautiful babies. Mrs. Pratt was a widow with a big annual land payment, and just barely survived------the horses were almost on their own when bad weather happened.
Pratt Sully Fire was about a year old. He was still skinny and not shed off, but his shaggy robe was starting to loosen up. His skinny legs looked silly poking out from under that floppy rug of old matted hair. A month later, he started looking good.
How we came to own Pratt Sully Fire
We saw him first as a yearling and a pretty rugged sight, he was. Shaggy, skinny, and covered with loose fitting robe of dirty hair. After he turned two, he finally got fattened up and started looking really good, but only about 13.3H. His growth seemed very slow until about four when he jumped up to 14.3. He ran with 22 other young stallions on a 90 acre hillside pasture. None had ever been handled, but all were calm, and would wander over whenever Mrs. Pratt showed up. Pratt Sully Fire finally grew a bit more but was just under 15H at his prime.
Anyway, after Mrs. Pratt had used him a few years, I offered her $5,000 for a half interest. We would winter him and breed him early, then return him in June of each year, which was when she put her stallions out with her mares. She pretended to think about this, but probably was just being nice.
From 1992 until she sold her farm, we selected several mares, fillies and a stud colt to purchase. What a treat to be able to help her put her stallions out, then see the foals, the following Spring. A real living labratory for me to study Appaloosa genetics.
When she sold her farm and had to sell all her horses, she called asking us to Sunday dinner to talk about "the black stud" (Pratt Sully Fire). I told her that we could no longer afford to buy him and thanked her profusely for the honor of being asked. She said to come to dinner anyway, as she had some more ideas. We went, had a good steak dinner of beef she raised right there, and had home made pie for desert. Soon after, she said we should buy the "black stud" Again, I thanked her, but could not proceed. Finally, we said our farewells, and went home.
The next morning, she called and asked what the asking price was on a nice red, near leopard filly from Sully Fire's mother. I asked her, who wanted to buy, and she said that she did. I reminded her that she was selling out, but she said that she and her daughter wanted a few left for daughter's ranch. So, I told her $2,500 would be fine, and she informed me, that the filly was worth at least $3,000. Then she said that I could have the "black stud" for $6,000, with the filly as down payment. Again, I thanked her, but said we just couldn't afford the balance. She, then asked if we would stand him to the public, if he were ours. I told her we could do that. Then she said she would accept the balance owed as half of each outside stud fee that accrued. Well, of course, we really could not pass that up. We asked her why not Germany or Florida, etc. ??? She said that after selling her farm for cash, she really didn't need money, for the first time in her life. She also said that she trusted us and wanted him to be near, where she could see him. She signed his Transfer papers as if he were paid in full. We honored our commitment, but she had passed on before we paid off the last of it to Joan Nixon, her daughter.
After having him here a month, we invited her for dinner and afterwards, asked her if she wanted to go pet the "black stud" she was elated and loved on him good when we led him out. He was wild when he left her place and she had never petted him.
PRATT SULLY FIRE