Colonel H.L. Coleman
On April 12, the Walking Horse Industry lost one of its strongest long-time and best loved supporters when Colonel Harold L. Coleman passed away at his home in Clemmons, N.C. after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. For more than 40 years, Coleman was a leader in the industry, especially in his home state of North Carolina.Coleman and his beloved daughter, Debra, were introduced to the Walking Horse industry in the fall of 1966 with the purchase
of noted Alabama show pleasure contender, Missouri Go Boy. Little did he know what was to come, how great a role the breed would play in his life when Debra began competing the following spring aboard the black gelding with immediate induction to the winners’ circle. This
was the start of a monumental relationship with the breed for the Coleman’s, amassing double-digit worked crowns as the next four decades unfolded.It was watching Debra show and win all over the country that brought Coleman his greatest pleasures and triumphs in a life filled with successes in virtually every one of his endeavors. His pride and joy in her varied accomplishments were unparalleled. In the early 1970’s, reigning three-time World Champion gelding, Shadow’s
Sterling, was purchased from the Edwin Hubbard family and Debra’s domination of amateur ranks began. This team campaigned both from Burke and Kenneth Myers Stables in Winston-Salem and David Polk Stables in Clemmons.While showing under the Myers banner, the Coleman’s also experienced the heartbreak of their great junior stallion contender, Copy’s Perfection, being diagnosed positive for Equine Infectious Influenza. They also knew the thrill of victory under trainer Jack Johnson as their spectacular young chestnut mare, Delight’s Satin,
won the Two-Year-Old Filly World Championship.Also, in the early 1970’s, Coleman’s long-time association with David Polk Stables began with the purchase of then unknown Delight’s Shadow S. “Tarheel”. In their show ring debut as a team, Debra rode Tarheel to a reserve 15.2 and Under Amateur World Championship, which was a prelude to countless successes to come. She also won many open amateur titles aboard a powerful black stallion, Ace’s King Coal, in this period, including at the Spring Fun Show. Former three-time World Champion, My Fair Lady, also carried Debra to many wins in the late 1970’s.It was at the 1977 National Walking Horse Trainers’ Show in Louisville, Ky. that the Coleman’s assumed ownership of the legendary Darling Delight, who was just then becoming heralded as one of the greatest mares the breed had ever produced. It was after Polk had gained the aged mare title and owner Paulette Simpson had
directed the black beauty to the Amateur Mare Championship that the Coleman brand was stamped on the mare that was the talk of the show and who was to be the toast of every show ring she entered. Darling Delight and Polk had an undefeated season and were accorded the crown of Aged Mare World Champions, and following year continued in unbroken blue ribbon vein as Debra took the mare to the top of the amateur world. Beginning with the Amateur Grand Championship at the Statesville, North Carolina Tar Heel Classic, the beautiful girl aboard the show-stopping mare amassed blue ribbons all the way to the Amateur Mare World Championship. Plans were for them to campaign toward the Amateur World Grand Championship the following year, a goal most thought easily with reach of the team’s capabilities until dreams were dashed with the untimely passing of Darling Delight.Nothing however would stop the father and daughter combination and eventually a deep walking, head shaking roan gelding named Mighty Man’s Rascal was attained for Debra and the amateur titles continued to flow in endlessly. The roan powerhouse and his talented exhibitor were among the first and few to defeat the team of Mister Delight H. and Lynne Utter Northrop, who had taken more than 20 World Championships in ladies’ ranks. Several World Championships ensued for Debra and Rascal, with the team’s career highlighted by winning the Ladies Amateur World Grand Championship, the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association Ladies’ Horse of the Year award and
retiring the challenge trophy in the over 15.2 gelding class at the Celebration. This horse was referred to often as the greatest gelding of his era and was probably the Coleman’s all-time favorite contender.After Rascal’s passing, the success story gained yet another chapter with the renowned roan gelding The Snow Job. Already a three-time two-year-old Celebration winner at the time of his purchase through Ramsey Bullington Stables, The Snow Job captured world titles as a three and four-year-old, as well as several world championships in open amateur gelding ranks with Debra at his reins. Debra currently campaigns the flashy former World Champion mare, Sunrise At Midnite, under the banner, and the duo has claimed ladies, 15.2 and under and open amateur titles at most of the Walking World’s major showcases. Just as nothing pleased Col. Coleman more than seeing Debra win, nothing warmed the heart of one of the greatest
horsewomen to come from North Carolina than having her father cheer for her from ringside.
Coleman exemplified many of the most noteworthy attributes of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed he loved for so long and so well. Longevity-his was a more than 40-year love affair with
the breed and all of the people who are part of it. Loyalty-owners come and go as a matter of course for many trainers, however Coleman appreciated the job trainers such as Ramsey Bullington and David Polk, both of whom he was a customer of for close to 20 years, and
Chad Williams most recently. Versatility-both Coleman and daughter Debra enjoyed all aspects of the Tennessee Walking Horse from owning their own barn, producing a plethora of world champions, breeding, trail-riding and participating in all aspects of the industry, with long-time involvement with the TWHBEA, WHOA, and North Carolina Walking Horse Association. Affection-he was loved by all whose lives he touched and enriched. Another trait Coleman was to become know for was serenity. Most are familiar with the prayer known as the Serenity Prayer- “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” As his amazing life unfolded, Col. H.L. Coleman was indeed endowed with serenity, courage and wisdom not only where the Tennessee Walking Horse was concerned, but in all aspects of his life.He will be tremendously missed but never will be forgotten.