The life-size bronze statue of Midnight Sun, one of the top Tennessee Walking Horses of all time, left its spot in front of TWHBEA headquarters on North Ellington Parkway .
The statue was on loan to the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association from its home at Dixie Plantation.
Not sure exactly what will replace it in the Commemorative Garden.
“Original plans called for a beautiful fountain,” but a statue of another horse is not out of the question.
It would be hard to find a horse more important than Midnight Sun for the Walking Horse breed.
Foaled in 1940, the stallion’s original name was Joe Lewis Wilson, and he was an unpromising ugly duckling as a young horse, but grew into a beautiful black swan.
In 1944, Wirt and Alex Harlin of Franklin bought the horse and renamed him Midnight Sun. Midnight Sun was the first winner of the World Grand Championship at the 1945 Celebration, and repeated the feat in 1946. From then until his death from colic in 1965, Midnight Sun bred up to 100 mares per year, spreading his influence all over the Walking Horse breed. The majority of Celebration champions have Midnight Sun somewhere in their pedigrees, often multiple times.
At the Harlinsdale Farm dispersal sale in 1956, Midnight Sun was purchased by Eleanor Livingston and her daughter Geraldine for $50,000, but they left him at Harlinsdale to continue his stud career, and that is where he is buried.
Geraldine Livingston commissioned the statue of Midnight Sun and gave it to her mother as a birthday present in 1972, and it stood in the gardens of Dixie Plantation until it was sent on loan to TWHBEA.
MIDNIGHT SUN AT THE AGE OF 25
Midnight Sun, a young 25, had become a legend years before his death that Indian summer afternoon. On his record, he was the big horse of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. He was the first stallion to become world champion of his kind. That was in 1945 and 1946 at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration at Shelbyville, Tennessee. Then he sired horses that were grand champions there seven times; grand-sired the supreme winner five times; and was the great-grandsire of nearly EVERY year’s champion since that time. On only FOUR occasions since 1949, have horses NOT descended from Midnight Sun, in a straight male line, been world champions of this breed.
*Credit for the information concerning “Midnight Sun Statue” goes to both the Walkers West web site along with the Marshall Co. Tribune.
VERY LIKELY THE LAST VIDEO TAKEN OF THE LEGENDARY STATUE THAT BECAME AN ICON AT THE BREEDERS AND EXHIBITORS ASSOCIATION (click on the arrow below)