angle-left 50-Year Breeder: Howard E. Kalahar Estate

50-Year Breeder: Howard E. Kalahar Estate

AQHA 50-year breeder Howard E. Kalahar of Iowa created a legacy as his family continues to breed American Quarter Horses.

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By Richard Chamberlain for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Harold Kalahar just liked horses.

“My grandfather always had horses and ponies growing up,” says his grandson Trevor, who with his father – Harold’s son, Randy – now operates Kalahar Quarter Horses at Dayton, Iowa. “He wanted to have more than just a couple so he decided to raise his own.”

In 1966, Harold raised his first Quarter Horse foal. The following year, he bought Super Smoke, an Appaloosa by the Quarter Horse stallion Super One who went on to success in halter, reining and at stud.

Harold then turned his attention to American Quarter Horses. In 1969, Harold bred the Rio Joe mare Rio Daisy to Skip Shi, and the result was the chestnut filly Skip’s Magic Lady. In 1972, he bought his first Quarter stallion, Shi Reed, a yearling sorrel son of Skip Shi.

Shi Reed’s Sugar, a mare from Shi Reed’s first foal crop, produced Harold’s first AQHA world champion. Harold bought the Two Eyed Jack son Rib Eye and bred him to the mare to get Ribeyes Twister, who won the youth world in stake racing in 1986, earned open and amateur performance ROMs, and an open Superior in barrel racing.

Lots of horses followed. In 1978, Harold partnered with a friend on How D Spanish Leo, a son of Spanish Rojo Leo. Both of the Kalahars’ current stallions, HK Top Image and HK Blue Sky, trace to How D Spanish Leo through his daughter Rio Spanish Lady, who is out of a daughter of Skip Shi. To the cover of How D Roman, Rio Spanish Lady in 1987 foaled the gray mare Romans Magic, who in 1992 Harold bred to Coys Skippen Dance to produce what became Harold’s all-time favorite horse.

“The resulting foal in 1993 was a gray stallion,” Trevor says. “It was a very wet year, with a lot of rain and major flooding in Iowa. As a baby, the colt developed abscesses in both back feet, and Granddad spent many hours soaking his feet and taking care of him. He was Harold Kalahar’s top priority, thus earning the name HKS Top Priority. He was Granddad’s buddy, truly one of a kind, a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”

Due to injury, HKS Top Priority was never shown, but his offspring made up for it, siring futurity winners, point earners and Harold’s first AQHA Champion as a breeder in KDR Im Skippin Town. HKS Top Priority also sired HK Top Image out of the CW Mr Newton mare Shi Miss Leo. HK Top Image’s daughter Hkfancyroanlady produced the blue roan stallions HK Jet Blue and HK Blue Sky, full brothers by Zanzablue. The Kalahars sold HK Jet Blue but are using HK Blue Sky alongside HK Top Image.

“We have our first foals by HK Blue Sky this year,” Trevor says. “Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away December 13, 2015, before those two stallions came of age. But these lines are still in the pedigrees of the foals we raise today.”

In addition to the two stallions, Kalahar Quarter Horses currently has six broodmares, some prospects and riding horses on 150 acres. For about 40 years at the height of the operation, there were about 20 broodmares.

“Among my grandfather’s greatest achievements were raising world champion Ribeyes Twister and AQHA Champion KDR Im Skippin Town,” Trevor says. “He was very proud of the stallions he raised, HKS Top Priority, HK Top Image, HK Jet Blue and HK Blue Sky. Our horses have won many honors and awards. There have been some that have done well in futurities and too many to count winning county fairs in Iowa and the Iowa State Fair.”

That’s because of the kind of horses they raise.

“A good disposition is very important, for obvious reasons,” Trevor says. “It is a big part of how they train and ride, and in all interactions with them. Good conformation was always important to Harold: attractive head, trim neck, short back, strong loin, long hip, and muscular stifle, gaskin and forearm. He always said there was a reason why they say form to function: If they don’t look like something, it’s probably because they’re not. Good movement also was high on the list, again, form to function: If they have good conformation, they usually have good movement and the power to get the job done no matter the discipline.”

Trevor acknowledges the past but looks forward to the future.

“The American Quarter Horse industry is improving and forever growing,” he says. “It is good to see new things that have been done over the years. First came performance halter, then ranch riding and ranch versatility classes, and last year the addition of pleasure versatility classes. The Iowa Quarter Horse Association is also starting new futurities, the IQHA Ranch Horse Futurity and IQHA Breeders Incentive Fund Futurity, and that is very exciting. New programs, new classes and added money all help the growth and future of the Quarter Horse industry.”

Harold and Leona Kalahar were married 59 years, and their son, Randy, and daughter, Andrea, and their families, all help keep Kalahar Quarter Horses going.

“Raising good horses had a lot to do with it as well, because without good horses there wouldn’t be anyone wanting to buy them and without customers we couldn’t still be doing this,” Trevor concludes. “We thank our customers. We’ve met lots of people, made lots of friends and had lots of fun, laughs, stories and memories.”