He has been labeled a mystery horse. The dappled stallion with unknown breeding and origins would go years without a name. Eventually, he would be known as Traveler.
“He was one of the most perfect-looking horses I ever saw and sired great running horses from good mares,” wrote George Clegg, American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame member and Quarter Horse breeder.
This description falls in line with every other description about Traveler. The sorrel stallion with scattered roan hairs went from obscurity to fame almost overnight.
It is reported that Traveler was born around 1880 in upstate New York. He was shipped in a boxcar to Texas in the early 1880s and hitched to a dirt scraper.
One day, the railroad contractor decided he would rather have a mule than Traveler. So he swapped with a man named Triggerfoot Self. Self took the stallion back to Eufaula, Texas, and ran Traveler against Mayflower, a fast and well-known mare in central Texas.
Traveler won the race and changed hands. The new owner, Brown Seay, owned and raced Traveler for several years. Time eventually caught up with the stallion, and he pulled a ligament or muscle in one of his hind legs, ending his racing career.
Seay sold the horse, and Traveler went through a number of owners. His last owners were Dow and Will Shely of Alfred, Texas, in 1903. The brothers used him as a herd sire.
Clegg claimed Traveler produced good foals when bred to good mares. Others said Traveler produced quality foals with any mare.
As a sire, Traveler stamped his foals with good disposition, conformation and speed. Because of these and other traits, a large number Traveler’s colts were gelded.
The sorrel made his greatest impact in his later years. When bred to the Shelys’ mares, Traveler produced Little Joe, Texas Chief and Possum (King).
Traveler died in 1912 at the estimated age of 32. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1994.
Biography updated as of March 1994.