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Remembering The Touch

by Kasi Hensley

The Touch carried Chad Way to the winner’s circle as the youngest trainer to capture the World Grand Championship. He surpassed Doug Wolaver as the young trainer by only 6 months!

At 26 years of age, just shy of his 27th birthday, the walking horse world has lost one of its most memorable champions, The Touch. The flashy black stallion passed away due to complications with colic on Monday, Mar. 9, 2015. At the time of his death he was the oldest living World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse.

Joe C. and Peggy Martin bred and raised him under the name Grey John’s Touch on March 20, 1988. Martin also owned both The Touch’s sire, Another Grey John and his dam, Spirit’s Ebby.

In 1991 Hoil and Nancy Walker acquired The Touch. Nancy had enjoyed watching him from his tapes as a coming two-year-old.

The Touch was considered by many the dark horse of 1993 competition. The team of The Touch and Chad Way had a total of nine outings for their 93’ season that netted them prestigious titles at shows such as Belfast, Bethesda and of course The Celebration.

On that thrilling night on the 28th  day in August Way and The Touch had a “planned” delayed entrance. “I just kind of wanted to wait and let everybody watch for him,“ Way said. “The security guard kept calling me to 'c’mon, c’mon'. I was coming on but I was doing it real slow. I knew he was right. I kicked him up big when he came in the gate. That’s what really got things started.”

Hoil Walker, Lucille Powell and Nancy Walker join The Touch, Chad and Amber Way in the winner’s circle.

“He was just about perfect,” Hoil said. “He never made a mistake from the time he came into the ring. It was the biggest thrill in the world for us. It was what we have always wanted.” Well, it was almost perfect. Hoil Walker is very superstitious and he was not pleased to note that The Touch was the 13th horse to enter the show ring for the class.

The duo earned their spotlight ride amongst 16 other competitors. They were announced as the 1993 World Grand Champions with a unanimous decision with a record crowd at The Celebration with 29,131 fans cheering them around the ring.

The fall of 1993, The Touch began his breeding career at S.W. Beech’s. From there his was relocated to Twin Hills where he was under the direction of Tommy Martin and then David Williams. Williams, a well-respected stallion manager, dealt with The Touch for the greater part of his breeding career. “In The Touch’s first crop of colts (1997) he sired the Two-Year-Old Stallion preliminary World Champion, Retouch with Tim Gray and the Two-Year-Old World Grand Champion Touch Me Not with Rodney Dick. Touch mares have also gone on to do well,” said Williams. Williams stood The Touch at Twin Hills, Black Hawk Farm and Rising Star Ranch.
He lived out the final chapter of his life with Jamie and Eddie Holbrook of Rutledge, Tenn. “He was a fun horse to be around and he was a people’s horse. We currently have a few mares in foal to him that we have high hopes for, said Jamie Holbrook. The 1993 World Grand Champion “Touched” a lot of lives during his time. His legacy lives on through his champions in the ring and his daughters in the pasture.

The Touch had a lengthy and very successful breeding career that carried him to Twin Hills, Black Hawk Farms and Rising Star Ranch. His first crop of foals netting the Two-Year-Old World Grand Championship and the Two-Year-Old Stallion World Championship.

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