my mind my aunt, Dorothy Kilbourn Wood, should get
a great measure of credit in the story of Joe
Reed II * (1936 - 1966) and Bert
Wood *(1907 - 2001) . Why? Well I'm sure I'm
just a little biased but simply due to the fact
that behind every great man is an amazing woman.
And I doubt Bert's path would have gone the way
it had without a little help from his wife. That's
all I'm saying. She's mentioned,quoted and seen
standing by Bert's side in Joe's chapter in "Legends"
(well and a few other books too) for a reason though
ashamed to admit that growing up I thought my dad
was exaggerating more than just a tad when he'd
tell me that his (much older half) sister and her
husband Bert had a famous race horse back in the
day. Or his stories about Mr. Ed, sired by said
horse who was too pokey to race so this was the
horse my dad as a kid got to ride around the ranch.
My aunt didn't have the horses or much of the ranch
anymore by the time I got to meet her as an adult.
She was just an ordinary average person to me who
was really wonderfully encouraging about the horse
artwork. I loved dad but thought he was probably
just a little mistaken about 'famous' and maybe
even about the racing. It wasn't until I was buying
an off track thoroughbred from a quarterhorse breeder
when I decided for fun to ask if she's heard of
their horse. "Have I?!" she exclaimed,
and then pointed to a painting on the wall, saying
that the horse in the print was a descendant of
him. Since the internet was coming into being populated
with information like this around this time so I
researched and found out, well yes, they really
did have a famous horse and one of the Mr Ed performers
too. So this is me eating some crow now for being
such a know-it-all whippersnapper back then, and
acknowledging my elders were right! Please click
on those links for Joe and Bert's names to read
more about them. To me however, any Joe Reed II
memorbilla sculpture I could do would be more in
honor of my amazing aunt. A woman who inspired me,
even without me believing they really had a
moved from upstate NY to Arizona as a young gal
where she met Bert working on his parents ranch.
Since she and her mother in law didn't get along,
Bert decided to strike out on his own. The rest
of his story is history. But what isn't so well
known is that my aunt overcame some amazing personal
challenges throughout her life to go on and most
assuredly be a partner with her husband in making
history with a horse.
Reed II truly was the great all American Quarter
Horse. His even temperament and trainability/gameness
were admirable and many say it certainly stamped
the Quarter Horse breed distinctly. If you have
seen more than one quarter horse the odds are good
you've met descendents of this foundation sire.
had to prove his worth of course, his career is
vastly more impressive than records
and titles listed in the books. Joe was the
ideal do-it-all ranch horse that early quarter horse
breeders like Bert were aiming for. He felt at ease
using Joe for every aspect of ranch life; he could
put his kids on the stallion without concern,
yet work cattle tirelessly. I hope soon to have
converted to online some video footage to show Joe
Reed in action doing some of that. Dorothy would
always tell me how Bert simply broke Joe by putting
a saddle on him, getting on and going off to work
cattle (in contrast, I broke my own horse a bit
like you might expect a Yankee girl would. I think
Dorothy was trying to make a point with me by sharing
that story of how easy Joe was to start.).. ;) I
just can't emphasize enough how the hard life of
ranching meant horses had to be more than a little
leveled headed and of good build to cut it. It was
simply a different era where horses had a real important
job with ranchers earning a living for everyone.
You read of Joe's records and titles online about
these horses but to hear the stories told matter
of factly really drives home the point that it wasn't
about glamour, it was about survival and having
a four legged partner to help you to survive. When
I went to visit the ranch the first time I was pretty
taken aback to learn it took 20 minutes on the highway
by car to drive up to the end of where they grazed
cattle. You can't use a horse with poor conformation
to ride all day over the rough, rocky and mountainous
terrain off of the paved roads.
Bert's passing Dorothy lobbied tirelessly to get
her husband as well into the AQHA Hall of Fame along
side his pride and joy Joe. I was lucky enough to
be able to attend Bert's induction ceremony in 2004.
It was a wonderful recognition of a hard working
rancher who felt his horse needed to put a stamp
on the fledgling AQHA breed and campaigned him to
do just that. And it was an honor to be able to
witness my aunt's lifetime companion finally recognized
for his achievement (no doubt helped just a little
by her and indeed nominated due to her love).
aunt is getting on in years but she still lives
today on what remains of their ranch. I hope to
do more to honor Joe, Bert and Dorothy in the future
but in the meantime I really needed to light a fire
under my own artistic tuckus and finish some other
sculptures to commemorate Joe. I have to, it's my
penance for not respecting my elders enough growing
up! In all sincerity; thank you dear aunt Dorothy
for being such an inspiration in so many ways.
Bio panel pdf files used with permission of the
American Quarter Horse Association
need to thank Dave Rossi for converting my VHS
footage of Joe Reed II so that I could paint
this portrait of him. All 3 photos that I've
seen in books and online do not show this view
of him (they're 3/4 rearward views). Joe had
the most handsome and quintessential "look"
of the Quarter Horse. I look forward to being
able to share more photos of him very soon!
Close up of the bas relief tile - copies will
be available this summer. Will be offered
finished as below and a few will be painted
in life-like color based on rare video footage
of the stallion.