The Irwins were married in 1956.
That was about 12 years B.C.
( Before Colonel ) And, they became very involved with Quarter Horses soo
after. One of their early horses was a mare named Yucca Alice, purchased for
$3500.00, a fair piece of change back then, and not too shabby by today's
standards either. Sharlis and Bill credit her with firmly establishing the
Irwin name. "Alice" was campaigned against the "biggies" of the day in the
newly established BCQHA (British Columbia Quarter Horse Association).
The Irwins owned a stallion prior
to Sir Colonel. A brown horse named Ricky Cocoa, who's bloodlines can still
be found among the annals of BC bred Quarter Horses. Ricky was later gelded
and was Kami Irwins first show horse.
In the Western Horseman book, "
Legends Volume 2, chapter 9 begins: "One of the most universally
recognized names in the annuls of the American Quarter Horse is that of
Skipper W." In 1970, looking for a stallion for their small band of
brood mares, Bill and Sharlis visited the Alamosa, Colorado, ranch of the
"Master Breeder", H.J. "Hank" Weiscamp. Over the years, Weiscamp had
developed a line of horses descending from the famous Skipper W, born on his
ranch in 1945. The Irwins were completely hooked on the mares and stallions
they saw as Mr. Weiscamp gave them the grand tour of his ranch.
When Sharlis and Bill left Alamosa,
Colorado, they had a two year old stallion with them in their horse trailer.
Sir Colonel, a line bred son of Sir Teddy out of a direct daughter of
Skipper W. A young palomino with a pedigree that is still a household word
today, was on his way to make his mark in British Columbia, Canada.
Sharlis recalls that on the four
day trip back to B.C., they spent the time thinking about and planning the
future of Country House Quarter Horses. As it turned out, the hopes and
dreams they shared on that long ride home were destined to come true.
Perhaps even beyond their earliest expectations.
In a March / April 1983 issue of
The Quarter Circle, the official publication of the BCQHA, Sharlis writes:
"We stood Colonel in his three year old year, and out of his first crop of
foals he sired such notables as Century 72, twice a Youth Champion with 143
halter points and 131 performance points, Country Dainty Dish, twice Honor
Roll Bridle Path Hack of the Nation with 28 halter points and 349
performance points,( her lifetime points total, today in 1999, is 571!)
Country Eclipse, BC's top trail Trail Horse and ROM performance, Country
Irwinski, BC's High Point Team Roping Association Horse, and Colonels Lady
Mac, 30 Halter and 11 Performance points.
And that was just his
first foal crop!
In the more than 20 years that followed, the "hits just
kept on comin'!" Old Lady Irwin; AQHA Champion and AQHA Youth Champion,
amassed an astounding 879 points!; Ima Century Two, AQHA Champion, Youth
Champion, 30 Halter points and 139 performance points; Irwins Medallion, who
was the first BC bred Supreme Youth Champion, has a point total of 473!;
Palo Colorado, Youth Champion, ROM performance and Champion at Halter; and
Pacific Image, 18 Halter Points and 56 Performance points. And the list goes
on...and on...and on!
When Sharlis and Bill Irwin brought
Colonel Home from Hank Weiscamp's Alamosa Colorado ranch in 1970, Kami was
eight and Jaimin was four. The girls grew up with Colonel and his babies.
Sir Colonel, two pleasure points
short of what he needed for his Championship, returned to the show ring at
the age of 15. In July of 1983, In Duncan, BC, Kami Irwin won a four point
Hunter Under Saddle Class and the veteran stallion became an AQHA Champion!
As a young stallion, he won many
Grands and Reserves under such respected judges as Tommy Manion, Thane
Lancaster, Dan Opie, Roger Ruetenik, and Walter Hughes.
No outside professional trainers or
handlers were involved in Sir Colonel's AQHA Championship. The Irwins, as a
family, did it themselves!
"He was a true family horse," says
Sharlis. "We all rode him." According to Sharlis Colonels most outstanding
trait was that he was an "honest horse," a trait that he passed on to his
Sir Colonel died in 1995. He's buried on their property,
near the barn, and will always be the "heart" of The Home of the Irwins.
Many of the Irwins Horses today still carry Sir Colonel's name in their
Sept. 5 2008
WE MISS YOU DEARLY