Horses, Horses, Horses!
December is probably the most wonderful month of the year. Everyone has thoughts of the holidays and all the joy they bring. Thoughts of Christmas presents, lots of food and fun, Christmas specials at the Church, and the family gatherings. The family is indeed important anytime of the year, but in December family ties are particularly poignant. That is why I have chosen to write the December article about a family horse farm and the wonderful family who owns and runs it.
Let me introduce you to the Dr. Kent Gremmels family and their lovely old farm in Argo, Alabama. Dr. Gremmels is a Chiropractor by profession, but an avid horseman on the side. He and his wife, Lisa, have three charming children– Stephen, David and Megan. The whole family pitches in to help with the farm and the horses. It is definitely a family affair.
The farm, which used to be the old Cahaba Dairy (a famous, award-winning dairy in its day), was purchased by the Gremmels in 1992. The family moved onto the farm and converted it into the horse farm that it is today.
Now you might be asking what breed of horse is the Gremmels family raising on their lovely old farm in the middle of North Central Alabama? Well, they are raising Thoroughbreds — beautiful, well-bred animals; but these Thoroughbreds are not being raised for Jumping or Hunting or even Eventing. These Thoroughbreds are being raised for Racing. Yes, you read correctly, the prestigious sport of kings, Thoroughbred Racing.
Dr. Gremmels grew up in Southern Illinois watching Standardbred Racing. He was fascinated by the beauty and speed of these animals as they raced around the track with their sulkies and drivers in tow. Dr. Gremmels was just a boy then, but the fascination stuck with him, and he has been living out his dream of raising horses with his family.
It all started with the purchase of a Thoroughbred mare named DareTo Be Bold. This mare is still on the farm producing foals. She is a "well put together" sorrel mare. She is currently in foal to a stallion out of Ashville named Rockers, owned by Phillip Bowles. There are eight horses residing on the farm at the present time, four of which are pregnant mares, two that are offspring of these mares, one mare who is not in foal, and one ancient thirty-five-year-old Quarter Horse gelding named Rusty, who amazingly is "still kicking," so to speak, and takes his babysitting position very seriously. The three other mares in foal are: Part Of The Plan, also in foal to the stallion Rockers; Any Time Now, in foal to the stallion Crypto Clearance out of Lexington, Kentucky; and Extremely, in foal to the stallion Service Stripe also out of Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. Gremmels also has two horses he raised currently in training, one in Ocala, Florida, named Doc N Bubba G., and one in West Virginia named Bana, after Dr. Gremmels mother.
Talk about keeping it in the family, almost all the foals produced from this family farm are named for a family member. There are: I Love Lisa, Davids Prom Queen, Megans Storm, Stephens Code, Dr. G’s Hot Sauce, and Blushing Louie G just to name a few. Blushing Louie G is named after Dr. Gremmels father, and was the first horse that the family ever sold. He was sold at the prestigious Keenland sale in Kentucky. It was an awesome experience for the family to sell their beloved animal at such a high scale event, but Lisa said she and the kids cried all the way back to Alabama, while Dr. Gremmels was just very, very quiet on the way home. Of course, that was the first of many that have been sold since then.
And indeed, the foals produced from the Gremmels Farm are racing all over the United States, from Chicago, Illinois to West Virginia, and even outside the United States in Canada. Dr. Gremmels knows this exciting fact because for every purse won by a horse he has bred, Dr. Gremmels gets a percentage of the winnings. Yes, that is correct, you don’t even have to own the horse anymore to get a cut of the purse in the racing world if you are the breeder. Surprisingly, there is also an Alabama Thoroughbred Breeding Program that holds four races a year for Alabama bred horses. Two of the races are held in Ohio and two in Louisiana. The purse for each race is $35,000.00, but there are usually only eight to ten horses per race, because the Alabama Breeders Program is so small. One of these races is called the "Kudzu Juvenile." Now I am aware that Kudzu has conquered the South, but I still thought this name to be most unique. It brings a smile to one’s face, does it not?
Some horses bred by Dr. Gremmels that have done extremely well have been the offspring of the stallion Schembechler, owned by Dennis Murphy of Birmingham. Dr. Gremmels had one of his horses out of Dennis Murphy’s Schembechler named Midnight Fury (due to being born the night of the 1998 tornado) come in third in the Kudzu Juvenile. Of course, it is Dr. Gremmels dream of dreams to actually have one of his horses win the Kentucky Derby one day, as it is the dream and ambition of most breeders of Thoroughbred race horses.
As I have said, this horse farm is a family affair for the Gremmels, and what a sweet family indeed. Dr. Gremmels, Lisa, Stephen and David escorted me all around the farm to pet the nose of each beautiful animal. (Megan was away at school that day, for she attends the University of Alabama.)
Stephen and David kept me entertained with the two huge dogs, Sebastian and Neptune, and two of the six cats, Arthur and Merlin. Dr. Gremmels said I had to see the vegetable garden and the chicken coop, so I saw these as well. To my delight, Stephen put on a performance of hypnotizing one of the chickens. It was a grand presentation, one of which I can honestly say I have not seen before. I was shown the eggs from the chickens because of their unusual coloring. The eggs were various shades of blues, greens, and pinkish mauves, because the chickens are a mixture of Rhode Island Reds and Chinese Chickens. And to top it all off, just when I thought I couldn’t be surprised by anything else, Lisa said I needed to see the "turtle sanctuary." Dr. Gremme actually saves turtles from the side of the road and brings them home as pets. Obviously, this family loves all aspects of farm life, and the different joys it can bring, but the main focus is still the horses. Dr. Gremmels, I hope you do get a Derby winner one day!
My thanks to Dr. Kent Gremmels, his wife Lisa, and their children, Stephen, David, and Megan. It was such a treat to meet you all, and visit your lovely farm. The entertainment provided was exceptional.
Janet Bryant is a freelance writer from Oneonta.