The foundation on which the American Albino was established at the White Horse Ranch near Naper, Neb., is attributed to a milk-white stallion, Old King, which was the sire of many beautiful circus horses. Although no records were available concerning his ancestry, it was generally conceded, because of his fine qualities, conformation, and style, that he was of Arabian and Morgan bloodlines — it has been definitely. established that all light breeds of horses stem from an Arabian background.
In 1918 C.R. and H.B. Thompson purchased a string of Morgan mares and, with this glamorous snow white steed as a foundation sire, began a period of scientific breeding that has resulted in the development of the new popular breed known as The American Albino.
The former owner of Old King, William P. Newell, noted Illinois breeder and trainer, has these words to say about this fine stallion, “There never was a stallion more suited to head such a stud as Old King, which was foaled in June of 1906.” Newell again said, “There never was or ever will be a better breed of horses than this breed of white horses. I have owned 50 head of them and did not raise one which was not a desirable horse. Nearly all of these horses were out of colored mares and sired by Old King. He was a good breeder, true to type, color, and disposition, and all his foals were uniform.”
General Eugene E. Young of the Illinois State Militia rode Old King at the Illinois State Encampment at Peoria in 1910, and this is what he had to say about the great fountainhead of the American Albino, “He is the best dispositioned stallion I have ever ridden.” In this same parade Newell furnished 27 head of white horses for other officers on the staff.
The Thompson brothers spent nearly 20 years building a fine herd of white horses which, at that time, were commonly referred to and considered as Arabians; however; during that same period, the horses the Thompsons bred had no authentic history, no established records, and strange enough not even a name for the breed. For all their generous idealisms, the Thompson brothers were horse lovers and practiced horse breeders. Consequently, after years of breeding, with the definite end in view of someday establishing a recognized breed of horses, they at last laid the foundation for one of the newest breeds with an increasing following.
In 1936 Cal and Ruth Thompson conceived the idea of establishing and recording their own standards of breeding and, noting the increase in the percentage of white colts each year, they arranged a system of recording breeding records. Realizing that this new breed was different from the Arabian in the respect that these white horses were all pink-skinned and born with a white coat, while purebred Arabians were definitely black-skinned, regardless of coat color, the Thompsons saw the necessity of a different name for the new breed and chose to call them The American Albino.
Many inquiries came to the office asking why they selected the name Albino. The principal reason was that Albino, taken from the Latin adjective albus, means white. The word is synonymous with white, as decreed by all authorities on the English language, and had the horses been any other color, they could not bear this title.
Late in 1936 the Thompsons organized the American Albino Horse Club. It was incorporated in 1937, at which time the club’s services were opened to other breeders from all parts of the country who became interested and have assisted in the progress of the club by joining and supporting this national organization. Records of white horses around the country have been maintained through the personal efforts of Cal and Ruth Thompson.
Not only did the Thompsons set up a plan for registering the dominant white horses but also to register and record those of off-color breeding which could not be called American Albino. These latter are registered in order that recognition can be given to these animals which could supply valuable knowledge for the purpose of keeping more accurate records of the produce of all registered American Albino mares and get from registered American Albino stallions. A filing system has been set up and Certificates of Entry issued to all foals which are off-colored but produced by breeders of American Albino horses. Accurate records are kept of these as well as all snow-white foals produced from American Albinos. This is becoming more necessary in order that breeders may improve and produce the American Albino horse, and horses which consistently show the ability to reproduce white can be set apart from those which tend to throw colored foals.
According to Dr. W.E. Castle, who in 1948 was associate in Genetics at the University of California, and Frank L. King of Lafayette, Calif., prominent breeder of palominos, four color-types of horses may be identified as Albinos, and they are as follows: Type A — an Albino whose parents were both palominos, or one or both of whose parents were produced by palominos; Type B — an Albino one or both of whose parents were buckskins; Type C — an Albino both of whose parents are known to be buckskins; and Type W — an Albino which is a true dominant white without any trace of color in the hair, such as the three preceding color types. These types of Albino, according to Castle and King, will produce 50% true white foals when bred to a mate of any color whatsoever; the other 50% may be some flat color, not dominant white or even an Albino of color types A, B, or C, or a buckskin.
A color-type C white horse is more accurately called dominant white. The Thompsons were primarily interested in this classification — a pure white horse scientifically bred to be white. It was in this latter classification that the Thompsons’ foundation sire Old King belonged.
Although The American Albino Horse Club was founded on the Thompson strain, there are many types of snow-white pink-skinned horses eligible for registration in the Club and each breeder, with his own particular purpose in mind, must breed from the best sires available with characteristics he seeks to perpetuate. Excellent conformation of the American Albino is an important factor, since it marks him as a utility horse, giving him a place in many fields — riding, driving, showing, and general work. The Club also maintains a registry for the pony-type American Albino.
The most recent project sponsored by The American Albino Horse Club enables horses to be registered which are not eligible for registration in other breed associations. Fine animals, loved by their owners who wish to establish a foundation for future authentic records, may be registered in The National Recording Club. This registry is open to all types and colors of horses not recognized by other breed associations. NRC in preserving the foundation of all types and colors of such horses for future records is, in short, a home for the homeless.
The American Albino Horse Club, Inc., has accumulated many years of breeding records to date. The steadily increasing interest in the various types of snow-white horses is shown in its registration files and the high ideal which was listed for American Albino perfection is fast being reached.
It has been nearly a half century since the beginning of the Thompson strain originated in the purchase of this snow-white foundation stallion, but the beauty, courage, and stamina of Old King will live in his offspring. Those of us who are familiar with the history of Old King, however, will always consider him the greatest.
This year of 1961 marks the 25th year of growth for The American Albino Horse Club, Inc., at Naper, and breeders throughout the United States, Canada, and the West Indies are looking forward to the continued progress of the American Albino breed by attaining results in their breeding programs already established by breeders Of the snow-white horse — keeping the channels of improvement open for the future and allowing anyone to help and assist in the promotion of the snow-white horse.
This is merely a beginning and only by working together, preserving official records, registering horses in the respective divisions, and assisting the club which is set up for service can we all hope to attain our goal. This course of action should automatically result in the development of a purebred breed of white horse. Our slogan should be together we stick, divided we’re stuck.
In the final analysis, our efforts in permitting official records to grow and live over the years will be commendable only when the future youths of the world place their stamp of approval on the past work of the present day breeders. Then and only then can we as breeders of The American Albino know that we did create a new purebred breed of horse, a truly American Albino.
This article was originally published in the April 1961 issue of Western Horseman.