|like star and stripe on her face. Sirpent
was a natural. "I was tickled by whoever named Fatal Attraction. It
Sirpent’s mother was a quality mare with strong racing bloodlines, but she preferred to be left alone, and for the first few months of Sirpent’s life, the young filly adopted her dam’s solitude. While Joe and Jan though Sirpent was a nice horse, they didn’t have a chance to see her charming ways from afar. Not until one day when the Bards were working in a field; it was then that a 2-month-old, unweaned Sirpent introduced herself, Joe says.
"One day, she just ran out of the woods and out of the hills, and she just came up to us, unusually friendly. Sirpent decided to come check out the people and found that we weren’t all that bad. She stood there and let us pet her and look her over.
"We both looked at each other and agreed, boy, what a magnificent horse she was. It was very, very fortunate for us that she was like she was, because she was our first attempt at any of this. She was so easy. It was at that point we started getting her ready to show."
From that initial contact with the Bards, Sirpent learned to love all people, Jan said. She also developed other fine traits: the ability to give her best wherever she was, her complete willingness to please, flawless conformation and an undefinable presence that demanded attention. Joe adds that since Sirpent, they’ve bred more than 100 mares to Sir Wrangler, and all the stallion’s babies are very easy to work with and very talented; some of those offspring include champion horses like Echo’s Sirprize, Sirafin, Sirnique, W.P.J. (for Wrangler’s Plain Jane), Tex Ann Wrangler, Canute and Wrangler’s Bear. In all, Sir Wrangler babies have earned 17 national titles, Jan says.
Joe says that had Sirpent been run as a youngster, she could have gotten her diamond-studded medallion. Katy Kay Hicks was bred to run, with the Zantanon bloodline in her pedigree. Racing blood ran in Sir Wrangler’s family as well; on his dam’s side, the stallion goes back to Three Bars (TB).
With such fine qualities, Joe and Jan decided to start showing Sirpent in her yearling year. After several months of preparations for the horse and breeders – the Bards were also novices in the show world – Joe, Jan, Sir Wrangler and Sirpent arrived in Spanaway, Wash., in March 1981 for their first show, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Posse Show. They promptly entered Sirpent in a big class of yearling fillies judged by Terry Sartain. He not only judged Sirpent first in the class, but he also chose her as the show’s grand champion mare, at a time when yearlings were still allowed to go grand.
"The judge couldn’t keep his eyes off of her," Jan says. "He pestered Betty Wulfekuhle, the show secretary, for our name." After the show, the show secretary called the Bards and told them that Sartain was very interested in their filly and that he would not leave her alone until she had contacted them, Joe added.
"You had to understand that at this point we were absolutely as green as grass," he says. "I had never shown a horse before at halter or anything, and we were being advised by all of our friends that we shouldn’t take her out yet, she’s just not in show shape. When she went into the ring, he looked at her and looked at her, and it was such a big class that I had to trot her all the way around the outside edge in order to come into my spot. He watched her every step of the way, and then he came up to me, and he looked at her and looked at her, and he said, '‘ho is this hussy by?'"
Sartain would not buy the filly until early fall of 1981. Until then, the Bards, Sir Wrangler and Sirpent had a banner show season; Joe and Jan trailered the filly and her sire all over the Northwest in a 1966 Miley horse trailer pulled by a 1972 GMC truck. Sirpent continued to wow judges and collect first-place ribbons at shows like the Columbia River, The Colorful Classic, Blue Mountain and Puget Sound Yearling Futurity. She was also named Far West champion yearling. Sir Wrangler was winning alongside his daughter; the Blue Mountain show was particularly memorable with Sirpent taking grand champion mare and Sir Wrangler earning grand champion stallion.
"We would pull in, and no one would even consider talking to us. By the time the show was over, we would have the whole front windshield just full of trophies " Joe says.
He short season also brought some disappointments. At The Colorful Classic in Salem, Ore., an all-breed show, Sirpent won the Appaloosa division in her age class, then came back to win over all ages and sexes in the same division. Judge Don Burst also placed Sirpent best of all breeds, but the filly had to give up the honor; she was disqualified because a yearling was allowed to compete overall. The judge did offer some encouragement though. "Don Burt said this horse will go far," Jan says.
At another show in Salem, Ore., the judge had narrowed the yearling fillies class down to two contestants, Joe and Sirpent at one end of the gigantic arena and Grant Gibbs and the filly he was showing at the other. The judge walked back and forth between the horses several times, sweating profusely with the difficulty of making a decision. He called the handlers to the arena’s center and eyed the fillies some more. In the end, the judge gave the win to Gibbs and his horse, but the spectators were not happy with the decision, Joe says.
"The whole stand just erupted," he says. "Just erupted. ‘Ah, boo!’ ‘Get out of here!’ I was just laughing my head off in this class because it was hilarious. That poor guy (the judge) was in such a strain. Grant and I talked about it later, and Grant said the horse he was holding couldn’t possibly hold a candle to my horse."
Although the Bards were enjoying so much success with Sirpent, a thought troubled them. They knew their filly had the potential to be a national or world champion, maybe both. But from their point of view, she needed the right owner to give her the recognition she deserved. Although the decision was a hard one to make, they followed through because they thought it was for the best.
"It was horrible (to give her up)," Joe says. "This horse had endeared herself beyond anything you could imagine. She was absolutely perfect in every respect. We didn’t