Tuesday, 17 August 2010 09:07

E.J.G. Barb – A Versatile Champion –

Written by  Mark Lindquist
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Rarely would you think that a sunny September day would become so significant. The date was September 18, 1990, and the location was the Remlap Farms Dispersal Sale in Schomberg, Ontario. If you were present, as I was, you would have seen some top quality Belgians being sold by one of the best known breeders and exhibitors of the previous few decades. What was significant about that day was that it was the first time a lot of people had ever seen E.J.G. Barb, a 2-year-old filly included in the dispersal. It was also the first time that most people had ever heard of John Leask, the man who came to own the filly. In his own words, “No one knew who John Leask was until Barb came along.”

The real story began on a rainy day in June of 1990. John was beginning to assemble a stable of quality Belgian mares in Ontario. He’d purchased some good young mares at the Columbus and Topeka sales and had seen the advertising for the Palmer Dispersal Sale. John had gone to Schomberg to purchase some horseshoes when he decided to take a side trip to Remlap Farms. There, he was greeted by Doug Palmer who was more than happy to show him some of the mares that were going to be in the sale. Randy Robertson was at Palmer’s fitting horses and had the task of moving several mares up and down the lane for John’s inspection. Through the course of the visit, John had come to pick out four mares he thought he’d like to purchase. Bonnie’s Babe Du Bruille, an aged mare and her yearling daughter, Remlap Connie Du Marais, along with a mare named Donna Bird Farceur and E.J.G. Barb. Sure enough, he purchased three of the mares the day of the sale, including Barb.

E.J.G. Barb was a tall, impressive, well put together mare and when she moved in the sale ring, you knew she had a great future ahead of her. She’d been bred by Elam J. Graber of Grabill, Indiana, and was born on June 12, 1988. Doug and his daughter Beth Palmer had taken a trip to Indiana where they’d found her as a foal. Doug had planned on her becoming his next top show mare. Barb was sired by Constrico who was one of the top sires in North America at the time. His gets were winning on both sides of the border while sons and daughters racked up championships at all of the major shows. Her dam was a little known mare named E.J.G. Jewel Farceur, a granddaughter of Duke’s Progress and Royale Supreme De Farceur. In later years, John took a trip to Graber’s to see the Jewel mare but she had died. Instead he saw two half sisters sired by WHF Constable. Now back to Barb…

Barb The Show Mare

Barb was the top-selling horse at the Palmer dispersal at $11,000. With the filly purchased, John made sure to get her show career underway with a trip to the Royal. Unfortunately, she got off to a lackluster start with a 7th place finish in the 2-year-old filly class. By the following year, Barb was beginning to live up to her billing. She won the 3-year-old filly class at shows throughout Ontario, including the C.N.E. and Royal where she was also Reserve Senior Champion Mare. She also won her class at the Michigan Great Lakes International that year, thus earning her first All-American nomination (She finished with a 1st Honorable Mention for the 3-year-olds).

In the early spring of 1992, John decided Barb might just as well begin a career as a brood mare since things were right on track in the show ring. She was bred to Greentop Centennial, the Naden’s Bill son who’d become herd sire at Leaskdale Farm a couple of years earlier. (We’ll get to Barb’s story as a brood mare later.) With Barb in foal, the show season was ready to begin. Of course, in 1992 everyone was preparing for the second North American Belgian Championship being held that September in Lexington, Kentucky. John and Barb were no different. She continued her winning ways at smaller shows in Ontario and was the Senior and Grand Champion Mare at the C.N.E. in late August. However, at the NABC she’d have much stiffer competition. Barb went into a large class of yeld mares at the show and came out with the blue ribbon. As many of you already know, from there, she went on to become the Senior and Grand Champion Mare. John was elated. She completed the show season with a win at the Great Lakes and a championship at the Royal. In fact, she went undefeated in 1992 and ended up as the 2nd Honorable Mention aged mare in the All-American contest.

In 1993, Barb went undefeated which entailed claiming grand championships at the Royal, C.N.E. and Indiana State Fair. She also won the mare & foal class with Leaskdale Barbi Doll at Indiana. The following year, 1994, would bring a couple of new firsts for the great mare. She won her class and was Reserve Senior and Reserve Grand Champion at Indiana as well as Champion at the C.N.E. and Lindsay. She then went on to be named Champion Mare at the Michigan Great Lakes International and was named Supreme Champion. This was the first time Barb had won this honor. She finished the year with her third straight championship at the Royal and yet another All-American nomination. When the ballots were tabulated, E.J.G. Barb was named the 1994 All-American Aged Mare, a distinction that John is very pleased she’d finally won.

The following year brought even more accolades. As well as being Champion Mare at Lindsay and the C.N.E., she was Champion at Indiana where she was also named Best of Breed, the first time to win the award. For the second time, she was also part of the winning mare and foal duo at Indiana. She concluded her year by winning her class for the fifth year in a row while claiming her fourth consecutive championship. She also ended up as the 1995 Reserve All-American Aged Mare.

1996 would get off to a great start at the North American Belgian Championship in Brandon, Manitoba. Barb won the brood mare class and was named Senior and Grand Champion for the second consecutive NABC–a feat which will be hard for other mares to duplicate. She and her foal also finished second in the mare and foal class at the show. She won Championships again at the C.N.E. and Lindsay while finishing the year with her fifth straight championship at the Royal. Following that win, E.J.G. Barb was retired from the show ring. I think John regrets this decision somewhat. Barb was only eight years old and some felt she still had a couple of years left in her. Whatever the reason, she certainly went out on top and will forever be remembered for her wins at the major shows in North America. I also can’t forget to mention Don Lowes before leaving Barb's showring career. Don was the man who guided Barb to every one of her major accomplishments. His showmanship skills certainly helped raise the bar for her competition.

Barb The Brood Mare

In discussing just how good Barb was, it can be argued that she was just as good a brood mare as she was a show mare.

During her career as a brood mare, Barb was only bred to three stallions, caught every year from the age of four and had ten live foals. In January 1993, E.J.G. Barb had her first foal. The filly was named Leaskdale Barbi Doll and as mentioned previously, she was the first product of the mating with Greentop Centennial. The filly was red, heads up and showed promise to carry on with the same great action as her mother. As a foal, she garnered wins at the C.N.E., Indiana and the Royal and was an All-American Nominee. Barb & Barbi also won the mare & foal class at Indiana that year. As a yearling, she racked up wins all over Ontario including the C.N.E., Lindsay and the Royal and ended the year as the Ontario Bred & Sired Yearling Filly Champion. As a 2-year-old, she placed 2nd at the C.N.E. and 3rd at the Royal. In 1996, as a 3-year-old, she was consigned to John’s Leaskdale Opportunity Plus Sale which was a partial herd dispersal held at Carson’s Summer Sale. There she sold to Bruce Brillinger, Newmarket, Ontario, for whom she would continue her winning ways on the halter and also become a hitch mare. That year, she was Reserve Senior and Reserve Grand Champion Mare to her mother at the C.N.E. and since then she’s placed well at shows on both sides of the border. She also took up various positions in the Brillinger’s six-horse-hitch of mares, which has gone undefeated at the National Belgian Show since inception of the class. John bought Barbi back from Brillingers at Carson’s Summer Sale in 2002 and then subsequently sold her to Dr. Tomas & Pam Vybiral of Thurmond, North Carolina, where she is now part of their extensive brood mare herd.

Leading into 1994, John had a bout of rhino go through his barn and Barb was one of the mares affected. She aborted a filly foal on December 1, 1993. In 1995, Barb came with a Centennial stud colt named Leaskdale Ritzie, a long-necked high-headed colt that a lot of people took note of. He won the foal class at the C.N.E., placed 4th at the Royal. He and Barb also won the mare & foal class at Indiana and Ritzie was the Ontario Belgian Stallion Foal Futurity Champion. As a yearling, he was also part of the partial herd dispersal at Carson’s where he sold for $10,600 to John Cochard of Indiana. Ritzie has sired foals who placed well at major shows in the U.S. and was more recently standing with McIlrath’s Captain Jim at Jim Raber’s in Indiana.

In 1996, Barb had her second filly by Centennial. She was named Leaskdale Barbi Too. Shown little as a foal, she came out to win as a yearling and did so taking firsts at quite a few shows, including the C.N.E. and Royal. Like her sister Barbi Doll, she also captured the Ontario Bred & Sired Yearling Filly Championship. As a 2-year-old, she won the Canadian Bred 2-year-old class at the Royal and was the Reserve Junior Champion Filly at Lindsay. She’s continued her winning ways as an aged mare and has turned into a good brood mare herself. Bred to Madsen’s Manifest Cory, she produced Leaskdale Toota Lou, a yearling filly who sold for $4,350 at the 2002 Ontario Belgian Sale.

Leaskdale Eclipse, a colt by Centennial was born in 1997. The colt never made an appearance in the show ring and was sold as a foal to Elam J. Graber, the breeder of E.J.G. Barb.

For 1998, John switched gears and bred Barb to Madsen’s Manifest Cory. This time, she had a filly named Leaskdale Barbi Agin. The filly was probably the biggest filly Barb ever had and she was also the lightest in color. Barbi Agin made it to a few shows as a yearling and then spent the remainder of her life at home. She didn’t have a lot of time to prove herself as she died in 2005, losing two foals along the way.

1999 saw the arrival of Leaskdale Brinks, another colt by Greentop Centennial. This colt never made it to the show ring. He was sold at home to John Kline of Millersburg, Ohio. From Kline’s he made his way to Dale Seibold’s, also in Ohio, for a short stint and now calls North Carolina home as one of the herd sires at Vybiral’s DoubleTail Farm.

In 2000, Barb lost a stud colt by Madsen’s Manifest Cory and was then bred back to Centennial. In January of 2001, she delivered another filly, Leaskdale Barb Bea 3. Shown little as a foal, she placed 2nd in a large class at Lindsay. She continued to be shown as a young filly with little fanfare but has since hit stride with better placings as a 3-year-old and now, as a brood mare. In 2005, she hit the show ring with her daughter, Leaskdale Sophie, by Silverado’s King. The filly did well herself and will certainly be heard from in the future.

In 2002, Barb had yet another Centennial filly, Leaskdale Barbi Quatre. Barbi Quatre showed the typical stamp of the Barb/Centennial cross and did well in the show ring as a foal. John got hurt the spring of this filly’s yearling season so she didn’t hit the show ring until the fall. When she did, she was always at the head of the line or very close. Unfortunately, this filly slipped on the ice in 2004 and had to be put down.

In 2003, Barb had her final Centennial foal. Another filly and a good one at that. She was simply named Leaskdale Barb. As a foal, she was 2nd at Lindsay and a class winner at most of the smaller shows in Ontario. As a yearling she won most every show she attended and was crowned the Ontario Bred & Sired Yearling Filly Champion. This made the third Barb daughter to do so, a record for the program. As a 2-year-old, she carried on her winning ways including being Supreme Champion at the Aurora Fair in June 2005.

2004 brought Leaskdale Manitou, a colt by Madsen’s Manifest Cory. The colt did well, always finding himself in the top half of the class and ended the year by winning the Ontario Belgian Stallion Foal Futurity. Due to an injury, he was not shown as a yearling. In the spring of 2004, the great Barb was bred one final time. For the first time ever, she was bred to a stallion not standing at John’s. She was bred to Korry’s Captain. Unfortunately, the cross of the two North American Champions was not to be, as she’d aborted the foal by September 1.

John started getting ready for the 2005 show season and his show string contained three daughters and a granddaughter of Barb. Plans were made to attend the Aurora Fair on June 11, 2005. The Leaskdale horses did well with Leaskdale Barbi Too winning the brood mare class and Leaskdale Barb winning the 2-year-old filly class. Leaskdale Barb went on to be named the Supreme Champion of the show. The day which was filled with such success would end on a very sad note. When John returned home, he found Barb dead in her stall. Fittingly, he buried her beside Greentop Centennial, the sire of so many of her good foals.

Thus ends the life story of probably the greatest mare I’ve seen in my lifetime. To spectators, she was a joy to watch and to John Leask, she was certainly a pleasure to own. In his own words, “E.J.G. Barb … not only a great show mare, but also a great brood mare!”

I guess that’s why I call her a versatile champion. She seemed able to give her best at home and at the shows. There is no doubt that Barb was a record-setting mare whose progeny will surely carry on her legacy at Leaskdale Farm.

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