By Sadie Fowler

The Tennessee Walking Horse community spanning states and even other countries mourned the loss of one of the industry’s greats last week as word spread of the passing of Gen’s Armed And Dangerous. The World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse in 1994, Gen’s Armed And Dangerous went on to influence the breeding world in a huge way, producing get that could compete across a spectrum of divisions. 

“Armed has always been a member of our family and he is an important cornerstone of our family’s history and legacy,” said Arthur Gordon, who owned the horse for many years including the year he won the World Grand Championship. “We will remember him fondly by the impact he left on the industry with his get that continue to be successful in the show ring.”

California trainer Russ Thompson is the man responsible for putting Gen’s Armed And Dangerous on the map. Armed was just a yearling, owned by Claude Crowley at the time, when Thompson saw him at one of the spring opening shows in Shelbyville. Thompson had to have him and went out on a limb and purchased him for his customers, the Gordon family, with the idea of him being an amateur horse for Susan Gordon to campaign. 

“He was a great horse and I loved him,” Thompson said. “When I saw him I called Mr. Gordon and told him, ‘I just bought you a colt.’ He told me, ‘Russ, I don’t have the patience for a colt’ and I told him, ‘Well, I don’t have the money for a colt.’ He put the money in my account and I worked him for about six weeks before Mr. Gordon saw him. When he did he said, ‘Wow, you can mark that as paid and give him to me.’”

When the Gordons bought Armed he was two years old; his original name was Generator’s Cochise. Though he was meant to be an amateur horse for Susan, Thompson is the one who ended up showing him, which was something rare for Thompson who was known more for training horses for amateurs and juveniles prior to sealing the deal at the 1994 Celebration as the dark horse contender. 

“He exceeded our wildest dreams of what a California horse could achieve,” Gordon said. “While he may not have been the crowd favorite in 1994, he is still the only horse from California to have won the World Grand Championship and he more than proved himself by being one of the most successful sires in our industry even today.”
Thompson added, “Susan showed him some out here in California, but she said he was too magnificent of a horse and needed to be the top dog.”

The Gordon’s support of Thompson and Gen’s Armed And Dangerous will forever be remembered by Thompson.

“The year of the Celebration I’ll never forget Mr. Gordon telling me to go in there and give them hell and if we didn’t win he said it was OK because we would still have a horse to show next year,” said Thompson, meaning the horse would not have had to retire if he didn’t win. “I could thank so many people for being a part of his story, but I have to especially thank Arthur and Susan for allowing me to be a part of his story. I cried Monday until I needed electrolytes. I had people calling me from all over the United States, and even Canada and Mexico. He was the biggest thing I’ve ever been connected to.”

Regardless of the Gordons telling Thompson they’d be OK with the outcome of the 1994 Celebration, win, lose or draw, as it turned out he did win. From there, he went on to have a magnificent impact in the breeding world of Tennessee Walking Horses. 

“He came to me right after they retired him, after he won the Celebration,” said Rick Womack, who at the time was breeding manager of Womack Stables, where Armed stood for several years. “The best and biggest thing with him was that he crossed good with a variety of different bloodlines. His colts were always pretty, and handsome, and easy to sell as yearlings. His colts always made good show horses.”

Furthermore, they made good show horses across a variety of divisions. Thompson and Womack agree that his get have always spoken for themselves.

“The thing is, if they didn’t make the best show horse, they made the best show pleasure horse, and if they didn’t make the best show pleasure horse, they made the best park pleasure horse,” Thompson explained. “They fit in all divisions because they were all good looking horses and they were all trainable. There are people out there who have great trail horses by him that wouldn’t sell them for anything in the world.

“A lot of the breeding horses out there … if they don’t make a good show horse they don’t make anything at all, but his fit into some category because they were all good looking and sensible. Gen’s Armed And Dangerous was a gentle giant and he always was. He was a representation.”

Following his time under the Gordon’s ownership, Gen’s Armed And Dangerous went on to have several different owners, including (at the time of his death) the partnership of Brown, Hulsey and Pedigo. 

Thompson said winning the World Grand Championship that year, back in 1994, was the trip of a lifetime, especially since they were considered the dark horse contenders, but there are countless memories with Armed that stand out to Thompson over the years. One of his favorites was the year he was able to perform with him in an exhibit at the American Royal.

“They hadn’t had a show horse exhibit there in about 18 or 19 years,” Thompson said. “I sent him there to the Royal with a Hackney pony trainer who cared for him until I got there. All I did was get there and get on him … We rode under nothing but the spotlight and the crowd went wild. I still have letters in my safe from people who wrote to me about that night.”

Gen’s Armed And Dangerous was 29 at the time of his death.