DECEMBER 1997 BACK ISSUE
Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 12/1/97; 10:00:00 AM.
Double L Ranch- Home of Champions
By LILA HORVATH
Post Falls Tribune Publisher
POST FALLS - When you think of the West, different images come to mind. But hardly a soul would not include the horse as part of the scenario. How inseparable is the animal from the cowboy, or the "Indians," or the Calvary.
When you think of horse country, you should not exclude Post Falls and the surrounding area.
Lonny Bitton, who owns the Double L Ranch with his wife, Linda, said there are at least 20 major horse breeders and trainers on the Prairie. Their ranch is home to Appaloosas, but Bitton said other outfits are known for their exceptional Paints and Quarter Horses.
The Double L boasts two top stallions standing, as well as impressive fillies, mares and colts. Owned by Lonny and Linda Bitton for 20 years, the ranch has been home to horses excelling in Western and English performance, halter, games, cattle events, rodeo, and on the race track. Ribbons and awards adorn the shelves of the Bittons, as well as those of their children's homes, who also share the passion.
And passion it is. Lonny's penchant for roping took him and various horses to fairs and assorted events in horse shows, and rodeos around the Northwest. Since an injury curtailed his activity, he has concentrated his time on breeding and involvement as a national director of the Appaloosa Horse Club.
One of 15 national directors, Lonny has been instrumental in passing regulations regarding D.N.A. and semen transport, and is working on several areas regarding color of the breed in papering and show arenas.
Linda is active in the business as well. For the last nine years, she has coordinated the North Idaho Fair Open Horse Show. She said it is one of the biggest in the area, whether a breed or open show.
And the family presence continues. Son-in-law Ivan Tucker took "Scooten Dust `Em" to the 1996 World Appaloosa Show and won the Open Figure 8 Stakes Race, placed third in Non-Pro Barrels, and was in the top 10 in all his other games events save one. This horse is a prime example of the Bitton's success, as it is one of the colts they raised. Tucker trained the horse for games after it ran a fairly successful race career.
One of the stallions, Mr. Re Skip, has honors too numerous to mention. Some of note to include are that he has won over $10,000 in futurity money, and brought $1,100 for a stud fee at the Wishing Star Gallop. The invitation-only auction was held this past August.
O.A. Taylor is the other stallion standing at The Double L. "No slouch himself," said Bitton, "this horse is a 1996 Appaloosa Running Champion for 2-year old colts, and a futurity stakes winner."
In September, Bitton donated over 100 books to the Post Falls School District and the Post Falls Library. Published in association with the National Appaloosa Horse Club, the hardback volume traces the horse through art, history and photographs.
According to this source, spotted horses have been known to man for 20,000 or more years. They were the subject of cave drawings by ancient man, even mummified in Egypt, and found their way from Asia to Europe.
Their arrival in North America is credited to the Spanish Conquistadors. Gradually making their way north, the spotted mounts arrived in this general vicinity in the early 1700's.
The "Appaloosa" book quotes an excerpt from Merriwether Lewis' journal. A skilled horseman from Virginia, his entry dated February 15, 1806, reflects his opinion of the superior nature of the stock, and compared it to fine blooded lines with which he was familiar.
Bitton said the Nez Perce were the first tribe to breed the Appaloosa for color, stamina and speed.
Appaloosas saw an abrupt decline with the end of the Indian Wars, and the rich history largely was neglected until 1937. The Appaloosa Horse Club was founded in 1938.
This hardy breed along with others is part of a $112.1 billion horse industry nationally. Bitton said he has no figures on the local influx into the economy, but mentions related industries that benefit. Some of them include trailer manufacturing and sales, tack, feed, medicine, veterinarians, lodging, clothing and food.
Bitton refers to himself as an ambassador for the Appaloosa. He heralds its merits inherent in the breed, as well as horses in general being a good way to focus a family. "For those who can afford them, horses are a great way for kids to grow up. The learn to compete, win and lose gracefully, and the value of hard work," Bitton concluded.
So when you watch those movies, rodeos and races on television, know that the horse industry locally is alive and prospering.
-Reprinted courtesy of The Post Falls Tribune