50-Year Breeder: Dr. Alton Otis Seal
50-Year Breeder: Dr. Alton Otis Seal
By Richard Chamberlain for The American Quarter Horse Journal
Dr. Alton Otis Seal has spent his life working on horses, from the ground up to the tip of their ears.
“Having been a farrier and horse breeder for more than 50 years and a veterinarian for 47 years, I truly believe in the old adage ‘No foot, no horse’ but also ‘Know foot, know horse’,” says Dr. Seal, an equine veterinarian who owns Seal Stallion Station in Meridian, Mississippi. “I cull my herd rigorously on sound feet and legs, brains, disposition and athletic ability. I breed for structural soundness, and hope for pretty and color as an added benefit.”
Dr. Seal started in the business with his father, the Rev. William Otis Seal.
“My dad always told me, ‘Son, if you take God into your plans, you better plan mighty big,’ ” Dr. Seal, says. “Dad and I bought some AQHA mares in the mid-1960s – ’64 or ’65 – and started breeding them to Poco Trace, a son of Poco Bueno, and that got us started. Then we got a stallion named Dodger’s Dusk and raised some foals. Then we acquired Sugar Oakes, a son of Sugar Bars, and started breeding mares for other people. Our program grew from there.”
The Seals opened Seal Stallion Station in 1968.
“Three Jets came on board in 1979,” he continues. “He was a AAAT son of Rocket Bar (TB) and a half-brother to Jet Deck, and he put us on the map as far as a good breeding center in the South. In the 1970s, we usually bred 10-20 mares a year, but by the early ’80s, we were breeding a hundred mares a year. At that time, we were one of the few breeders in our area to use artificial insemination, so we received a lot of problem mares that other breeders had failed to get in foal. The good Lord blessed us with some good, fertile stallions, and as our reputation of settling problem mares grew, our numbers grew each year.”
As their business grew, Seal Stallion Station added services.
“We became a semen receiving center for people wanting to breed to great stallions from all over the nation,” Dr. Seal says. “We still collect and ship semen as requested by our clients. We have probably bred over 4,000 mares in 50 years, and they include many different breeds.”
Through the years, the Seals have stood AQHA Supreme Champion Coldstream Guard; AQHA Champions Tinker Steel and Karnes’ Star; Palomino Horse Breeders of America Reserve World Champion Mr Skippa Spanish; Impressive Gamble, a world champion sire; and PHBA World Champion Showa Bars and PHBA Reserve World Champion Showa, both by Impressive.
The 1994 AQHA reserve high-point halter aged stallion, Showa Bars is out of one of the Seals’ best mares, Midge’s Honey Bar by Kisses’ Midgebar. But Dr. Seal also mentions Tinkers Honey Bun, who won the Texas Palomino Breeders Futurity; two-time PHBA World Champion Jets Honey Bomb; Miss Honey Bar Jet, who produced two PHBA world champions; and the Three Jets mare Miss Three Of Hearts, who became the dam of PHBA high-point performance horse Mr Skippa Heart.
“The good Lord has blessed my family beyond our wildest dreams,” Dr. Seal says. “Good health and clean living are a recipe for a happy life. Hard work and goals lead to success. Watching our children and grandchildren become good horse people is a dream come true. Our son, Rob Seal, was a two-term president of the Mississippi Quarter Horse Association, and his son, Hawk, helps me on the farm. Our daughter Alison Seal Moore is an equine and small-animal veterinarian; she bought Seal/Laird Veterinary Hospital several years ago and now operates it as River Birch Animal Care Center. Our third child, Clare, followed in her mother’s footsteps as an elementary school teacher. Our granddaughter Jenna Seal graduated in May from Middle Tennessee State University; Jenna was on the MTSU equestrian team for two years and went to Europe as an AQHA student ambassador to teach horsemanship across the pond, and in April won the high-point all-around at the American Stock Horse Association national show in Sweetwater, Texas.”
It has been a rich and full life.
“We have bred and shown several PHBA world champions, and numerous state and futurity champions in AQHA and PHBA, but our greatest achievement is the influence that the horses have had on our family,” says Dr. Seal, who in January with his father and son were inducted into the Mississippi Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame. “I have been married to the same woman for 52 years. Sharon and I have three children – Rob, Alison and Clare – and all three were able to show three different mares that we bred to be named grand champion mare at the Mississippi State 4-H Show. So I think our greatest achievement was that we raised three grand champion kids, because of the influence horses had on their lives.”
So there it is.
“My dream and goal as a young man was to try to breed an all-around, athletically sound, pretty and preferably palomino horse that the entire family could enjoy,” Dr. Seal concludes. “The versatile American Quarter Horse fulfilled that dream.”