Wilfred Burrell and the Morgan Horse Club
By W. Craig Burrell
My father, Wilfred ‘Wilf” Burrell, lived in the Cottonwood area of Salt Lake Valley. He became interested in Morgan horses as he interacted with people like Ernie Pedlar, Charles Boyce, and the Mosher Brothers. In the spring of 1958 he bred some grade mares to Charley Boyce’s stallion, Galo’s Victor. He was delighted with the colt, Golden Victory.
Dad was not satisfied with just having a half Morgan. Later in the spring of 1959 he started searching to find a registered mare. After he advertised in the paper, he found a sixteen year old mare for sale in the Magna area. The mare, Julie De Jarnette, was foaled in the Midwest and was from Brunk breeding. He decided to breed her to Holman Waters’ stallion, Stellar.
In the fall of 1959 Dad arranged to purchase a weanling from the L. U. Ranch in Wyoming. Ernie Pedlar and one of his friends picked up a palomino colt for Dad in late December. We named the colt Highland Sunborn ‘Sunny’. He was kept as a stallion until 1968 and he tended Dad’s children and grandchildren until 1993.
Wilf raised over twenty five foals on his little acreage in Cottonwood.
The state fair was the greatest opportunity for showing Morgan horses in 1958. There were a lot of entries in the halter classes and we entered our old mare, Julie. The art of fitting horses for a show were not well developed among the Morgan breeders in those days. I remember helping one of the breeders unload some mares out of a stock truck. The fitting process consisted of raking the cockle burrs out of their tails. The mares were led into the arena by anyone that was not already holding a horse.
Dad became a member of the Rocky Mountain Morgan Horse Club in the spring of 1960 and soon found himself on the board of directors. I believe that ‘60’ was the first year the club organized their own show. With enthusiasm, Dad became involved in the horse shows. Because he had a jewelry store and was willing to provide trophies at wholesale price, he was put in charge of the trophies and ribbons. For years he ordered the trophies and had them engraved. I can still remember our dining room table being covered with beautiful trophies as he assembled them and attached the engraved plates. The trophies back then were made of real wood and metal. The statue of a Morgan horse on most of the trophies really looked like a real Morgan horse. Those old trophies were awesome.
I remember one year when Dad was put in charge of the Trail Horse class. He built a bridge and a gate to use as obstacles. I helped him set up the course.
Dad liked to enter horses in the halter classes and he encouraged his children to enter the performance classes. He was not a fierce competitor. Dad enjoyed seeing other people’s horses. It motivated him and gave him ideas to implement with his own horse project. He enjoyed being around people that had a common interest in Morgan horses. They became some of his fondest friends. When there were contentions in the club, Dad always tried to play the role of a peacemaker. He esteemed the members of the club, and I can never remember him speaking ill of any of them
Wilf and his wife holding Golden Victor
Highland Sunborn, one of Utah's first colored Morgans and Charlie Burrell
Julie D Jarnette one of Wilf's first Morgan mares
GiGi Jubilee a foundation mare for the Burrell's. She had 14 foals
Highland Sunborn pulling a sleigh in the 60's