|During my visits with Ralph
& Joyce Cannon, they explained to me how Sun Appaloosas began with the birth of a
bay leopard colt named Sunspot Revel. The Cannons purchased a speckled roan mare,
Rocking Chair Sun Dance, in the fall of 1955 out of a stable on Lookout Mountain, near the Colorado mountaintop home of Buffalo Bill Cody.
The Cannons bought her for their daughter Susan because of an accident with her previous
horse. Rocking Chair Sun Dance had a nice disposition and smooth riding qualities that made her a perfect horse for a young girl. Rocking Chair Sun Dance F-587 had a smooth rocking gait that old-time horsemen called the Indian Shuffle.
The next spring they went to the Annual Mounted Easter morning horseback
service where Ralph met a breeder named Cliff McMurtry who had a young 2 year old stallion.
That spring Ralph bred Rocking Chair Sun Dance to Revel Junior
The following year on May 16, 1957, Sunspot Revel, a bay
leopard colt, was born on Lookout Mountain. Rocking Chair Sun Dance
foaled out during a sunspot cycle, so he was named "Sunspot
Revel". When he was only a month old, the Cannons took Sunspot Revel to his first show. Sunspot Revel did not place head of his class, but his dam judged Res. Ch. Broodmare at the big Estes Park Show. Her win triggered Ralph Cannon's research into Appaloosa history. He soon learned that Rocking
Chair Sun Dance's leopard grandsire Sundance F 500 was in the pedigree of every Colorado bred National Champion Appaloosa
at that time.
His driving interest in the Sundance 500 bloodlines led Ralph to meet a number of people with Sundance F500 connections. He made opportunities to talk to Phil Jenkins, Sundance's breeder, and Doc Edwards, his last owner. He had many conversations with Ben Johnson of Grand Junction, Colorado, a Director and Vice President of the ApHC. Ben had leased Sundance F500 from Doc Edwards for a breeding season in the late 1940s, resulting in two Sundance fillies: Leopard Lady, the dam of Patchy
Jr, and Sunshine, who won a title of National Champion Mare. Ralph credits Ben Johnson with helping Doc Edwards register Sundance with the ApHC, and with focusing Ralph's attention on the exemplary qualities of this great Foundation sire.
Ralph also talked to many other breeders who had no connections with Sundance F500. He met Dave Ruby, son of the famous horseman Mike Ruby, who founded the
CRHA. Dave shared with Ralph pertinent information about Rocking Chair Sun Dance's lineage.
Dave knew that Fox #10 had bred the mare Porter before she was sold to
E.P. Deahl, the owner of Rocking Chair Ranch in southern Colorado. E.P. Deahl then registered her as Rocking Chair Porter and her new foal as Rocking Chair Sun Dance.
Dave executed an affidavit that allowed their ApHC records to be corrected. Ralph also visited
Idledale, home of the Starbuck Leopard and birthplace of Daylight, the sire of Sundance F500. One son of the Starbuck still roamed the valley with his band of mares.
Mrs. Starbuck gladly showed Ralph the famous oil painting of The Starbuck Leopard.
This discovery led him to later select the name "Sun Appaloosas" for their
Ralph Cannon was one of the 2 founders of the Sundance Breeders Association that
later evolved into Sundance 500 International. Ralph was the driving force
behind the birth of Sundance 500 International in 1973.
In 1958 the Cannons purchased a 55 acre ranch in Cody Park for
Sunspot Revel. Later on the Cannons purchased a 300 acre ranch. In
1958 they purchased the mare Piance Creek #996 who was in foal to Patchy Jr. Piance Creek was sired by Norell's Little Red by Red Dog, and out of Little Buck. She was a product of the breeding program of Colorado horseman Coke
Roberds. Sun Appaloosas launched its breeding program with these two fine mares that represented Colorado's three oldest
Appaloosa bloodlines. Sunspot Revel bred his first mares in 1959,
including Piance Creek.
In November of 1960, Monte Foreman and Ralph Cannon began training Sunspot Revel together. After less than two weeks, Mike Foreman took Ralph's place riding Sunspot Revel in training and two months later, in January 1961, Monte Foreman rode Sunspot Revel in the Denver National Western Stock Show. Sunspot Revel placed 3rd in the Men's Western Pleasure Class. This was the first time that an Appaloosa had ever placed in this event.
The famous photo with Ralph in front of Sunspot Revel and Monte on board is only one of three photos ever taken of Monte Foreman on Sunspot Revel.
With that photo, Ralph began the promotion of his Sundance F500 and Colorado Rangerbred stallion Sunspot Revel. The Sun Appaloosas program rapidly gained notoriety with Sunspot Revel's performances in the many western events and shows around Colorado. It also sparked Ralph's dream of an organization for Sundance F500 bloodline leopard breeders.
From 1961 to 1963, Ralph, along with Mike and Gary Foreman, traveled with Sunspot Revel to shows in Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Sunspot Revel was Grand Champion Performance Appaloosa of the Mountain & Plains Region in 1961 and Reserve Champion in 1963. The diversity of the Sundance F500 bloodline could be seen in Sunspot Revel's performance in Western Pleasure, Trail, Reining, Costume, Calf-Roping, Stake Race, Stump Race and Rope Race. At the Denver Western Stock Show, Sundance 500 bred Appaloosas won three of the first four ribbons-Sunspot Revel, his first son, Red Sun, and Patchy Jr's Mokena. Sunspot Revel also raced in 1961 and 1962 and helped establish Appaloosa racing in
In 1961 at the First World Champion Performance Playoffs, where Revel Junior competed as Ch. Sr. Cutting Horse from Missouri and Sunspot Revel as Gr. Ch. Performance Horse of the Mountain & Plains ApHC, the World show management announced that NCHA had crowned Revel Junior as World Champion Cutting Appaloosa of the Year. In 1959, Piance Creek showed at halter in the Denver National Western Stock Show, placed 3rd in Aged Mares behind Gr. Ch Star Mist and Res. Ch. Miss Liberal, then 5 months later foaled her colt sired by Patchy Jr.
The Cannon's first export sold to British Columbia where the buyer Jo Warren registered him as Warren's Red Dog. Jo Warren had been a very successful Appaloosa breeder for more than 25 years. Warren's Red Dog has scores of outstanding descendants in Canada and the USA. In 1960, Piance Creek presented Sunspot Revel with his first son, Red Sun. After beginning in the Colorado shows, Red Sun traveled over the United States and won awards of Grand Champion Stallion and Grand Champion Performance Horse in many of the 48 states. The same year, Rocking Chair Sun Dance produced her first filly, sired by Black Jack, a son of Ruff's Willie, a noted California performance horse and sire of performance horses. This daughter Swift Sunlight never had a chance to go to the racetrack or show ring, but she was an outstanding producer of many fine foals.
In 1966, Sun Appaloosas had built their Appaloosa herd up to a peak of about 65 horses. Ralph
remembered Don Ulrich came to him wanting to breed his mares to his stallion, but
Don declined when Ralph would not let Sunspot Revel leave and go to the Ulrich Ranch. By 1969, the increasing demand for Sunspot Revel horses had reduced their herd to 50 Appaloosas. Ralph and Joyce also told me of their raising Australian Shepherds while they lived in Colorado.
Joyce still had photos of their favorite Aussies. My father and I have raised Aussies since the late 1970's, but were never aware the Cannons had raised them also.
Sun Appaloosas made a reduction in their horses in preparation for their move to
Spruce Pine, North Carolina in 1971 from Elizabeth, Colorado. At the new Cannondale Farm
Ralph and Joyce kept about 30 Appaloosas. In 1978, they sold all but 12 Appaloosas, which was about the time my father made contact with Ralph about breeding our mares to Sunspot Revel. About this time, Dad bred three mares to Sunspot Revel resulting in
several registered foals. Joyce and Ralph had their last big sale in 1980 but still kept Sunspot Revel. In April of 1982 Sunspot Pete was born to the O'BRYANT RANCH.
The same spring we bred the dam of Pete back to Sunspot Revel.
This was Sunspot Revel's last breeding season. Unfortunately Sunspot Revel died
after colicing a few months later and so the famous Sun Appaloosa breeding program came to a
Sunspot Revel was as near a purebred Appaloosa as any horse of his generation. Through his sire he traces to Mansfield's Comanche F-3906, and through his dam to Sundance F-500 and to Max CRHA #2. The first colt he sired was Red Sun 11,097 out of Piance Creek 996, and he continued producing top quality halter and performance horses as seen in the following pictures. The only two living "own sons" of Sunspot Revel at this
time are Sunspot's Eclipse 225,244 and Sunspot Pete T 377,232. As a sire, he always tried to
out produce himself. His progeny were highly valued and were sent around the world. Several hundreds of his descendants live through out breeding programs in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Germany. Sunspot Revel died in
October of 1982 at the Cannondale Farm in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. This was the final chapter of the Sun Appaloosa breeding program that
the Cannons had begun in 1955. Some of Sunspot Revel's progeny and
several other products from the Sun Appaloosa program from the 1960's on through the 1980's can be seen in the following photographs.