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Wednesday, the 19th of October was the date of the long anticipated Fall Trail Ride organized by Bud Hutchison that begins and ends in Champion. This annual event has been going on for many years. Bud was joined by sixteen other riders on the trail this year: Bill Collins, Gary Braden, Bill and Margaret Brunner, Butch Linder, Dale Lawson, Nancy Burns, Herschel Letsinger, Joe and Wilma Hamby, Junior Brown, Gene Dunn, Joe Heath, Carl Loftis, Jack Coonts and Bob Herd. The day happened to be the first really cold day of the season, but the colors were just spectacular and no complaints were heard from any of the riders as they ended their ten-mile excursion around the big old wood stove at Henson’s Store in Downtown Champion. They had planned to take their lunch alfresco out on the Shannon Ranch, but the brisk wind and open exposure made Champion a more attractive lunch spot. Lots of good hot coffee and a pleasant conversation was the order of the day. Most of these riders are members of the Missouri Fox Trotters Association. There is a great deal of information on-line about the Fox Trotter breed of horses and the people who support them. The public libraries in the area are also well informed and there is quite an expansive display of photos and other material at the Association Headquarters in Ava. They say that Fox Trotters became the using horse of the Ozarks. They were the favorite mounts of cattlemen, country doctors, sheriffs, and tax assessors before improved roads and cars appeared on the scene. Old Fox, one of the breed’s most influential sires, was a chestnut stallion that spent his adult life trailing cattle in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas early in this century. He was a Champion! There is a rumor that Fox Creek was named after the horse. Check it out with Bud the next time you see him.
Some of the stories told around the stove the other day included one by Junior Brown. It seems that a neighbor named Jess ‘something’ gave Junior a billy goat that grew up bad and liked to visit at the school house. It might have been Wilma Hicks Hamby who was headed out to the outhouse when the goat got after her. Opal Proctor was the second grade teacher then. She took a baseball bat to the offender. Several students have memories of that incident but do not recall what ultimately became of the Billy goat. Ask Junior.
Bud cleared up the story about having been run over by the car back in 1956. It turns out that it was New Year’s Day and as Jim Hancock turned the corner around the Champion School, Bud jumped out in front of him. Bud says it was as much his own fault as Jim’s. He said that it was true that just when he had been relieved of the full body cast, he was kicked in the chest by a horse and all of his upper portion was broken up again. He did not have to have a cast the second time. Bud went on to talk about having been in a car wreck and then another horse hurt him in the 1970s. He had his jaw wired shut for nine weeks over that. Then in 1988 he had his ribs broken again—car wreck or horse kick, ask him. Bud is also the man to ask about trail ride events in the area and about anything to do with the Fox Trotters Association.