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Windt im Wald Farm
Geauga County, Northeast Ohio
since 1995

THE AMERICAN CREAM DRAFT HORSE

As is the case with many horse breeds, the American Cream draft horse began with one relatively unknown horse who proved to have special qualities. "Old Granny" was an unregistered cream-colored draft mare foaled sometime between 1900 and 1905. Harry Lakin, a horse trader, bought her at an auction in Story County, Iowa, in 1911. Her outstanding characteristic was that she produced several cream-colored foals from different stallions. Then, as now, buyers appreciated horses of unusual color, and these colts brought good money for Lakin. One of Granny's sons, Nelson's Buck, is regarded by the American Cream Registry as the foundation sire, even though only one of his many offspring, Yancy, was registered. Yancy's dam was a black Percheron mare whose color should have been dominant. In other words, Yancy should have been born black instead of cream. In 1926, when Yancy sired Knox 1st, a cream-colored stallion whose mother was a bay grade draft horse, it became apparent that this cream coloring was defying laws of genetics.

It was Knox 1st who sired,the most influential American Cream stallion, Silver Lace in 1931. Silver Lace's mother was a light sorrel or chestnut Belgian mare.He was owned by G. A. Lenning, of Hardin County, Iowa. Like many folks, Lenning lost a great deal of money during the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and lasted till the late 1930s. Nevertheless, he managed to hang on to his cream-colored stallion. Lenning had originally named his stallion King, but that name soon bit the dust. Lenning's young son was a fan of The Lone Ranger, a radio hero who weekly yelled out for listening fans, "Hi Ho, Silver...Away!" Silver was the lightning fast horse whose thundering hoofs enabled The Lone Ranger to save victims and to come back for another radio venture the following week.

In 1935 the American Cream was not a registered breed and the only way to stand Silver Lace at stud was to form a company to sell shares to those who wanted stud service. The stud fee was $15, a hefty fee for farmers during the Depression, due only when the colt was born healthy enough to nurse from its mother. Silver Lace's services helped the Lenning family survive the Depression for seven years. In a twist of fate, in 1939 Lenning turned down an offer of $1000. Six months later, Silver Lace died under mysterious circumstances.

Another resident of Hardin County, C.T. Rierson, started buying all the cream colts sired by Silver Lace that he could find. Mr. Rierson recorded the ancestry of each of those colts. When they were successful at the 1944 Webster City, Iowa, fair, Rierson wrote, "This is the county in which they originated and it will be the first time they have been shown in a class by themselves." Totally inspired, Rierson created the name"American Cream" because this was the only draft breed to originate in the United States and the only breed with the cream color. Rierson founded The American Cream Horse Association of America that same year. By 1950 the Iowa Department of Agriculture recognized the Cream as a draft breed.

American Creams were known for their lustrous white manes and tails and their pink skin. Additionally, the foals were born with white eyes that soon became amber-colored. The original Creams were about 15.1 hands and 1400 pounds, but soon they became as tall as 16.3 hands and weighed a ton. Because of their high trotting action, they made good show horses at county fairs as well as good farming horses. When both parents were Creams, there was a 75% chance of producing a cream-colored foal. Most importantly, an average person with no particular horse skills could handle them because of their quiet behavior.

When Rierson died in 1959 and his herd of Creams was dispersed, 58 owners had registered 199 Creams in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, with the advent of tractors and modern farm machinery during this same period, many draft horses, including the Creams, met their deaths at slaughter houses.

It was a 1977 book, Horse Power, by Frank Lessister, which helped restore interest in the American Creams. In 1982 three families with American Creams reorganized the Association, elected new officers, and opened the registry once more. As late as 1990 the American Cream was an endangered breed. Dr. Gus Cothran, of the Equine Blood Typing Research Lab at the University of Kentucky, personally contacted owners to be able to bloodtype the remaining Creams. His research determined that the Creams were a distinct breed of draft horses that could not be classified as Belgian, Suffolk Punch, Percheron, or Haflingers. Thanks to Dr. Cothran, who still has the same position at the University of Kentucky, the American Crteam Draft Horse Association is again alive and well. As of July 2003 there were 308 registered American Creams, up from 222 in February 2000.

Diane Jones
Windt im Wald Farm  

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