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Local man, horses fare well at show

PINE GROVE-- For Ted Sprouse, raising and taking care of horses is as much a way of life as it is a profession.

"I prefer the country," he said of living on a farm. "It is more peaceful and you don't have the hassle of the big cities."

Recently, Sprouse entered two of his horses in the Lee Jackson Classic Horse Show in Lexington, Va. He entered them in the futurity class, which meant that he actually had to enter them before they were born.

"This is one of the biggest appaloosa horse shows in the eastern United States," he said. "We thought we had a good chance when we studded the colt."

The horse Another Colored Asset won first place in the junior weanling colt category.

Asset's Chameleon won for the junior weanling filly. Weanlings are horses that are less than a year old.

Both were sired by I'm a Colored Asset.

"It is more or less like gambling on whether you will have a good horse or not," he said. "Our luck held out and we had two."

Of the judges' eight scores, Sprouse's horses received seven first place votes and one second.

"It is one thing to go out and buy a horse, but it is different when you raise them yourself," he said.

"Once you get them to winning it is real gratifying."

Sprouse said he has worked with horses all of his life but really got into it about 11 years ago after he suffered an injury working at Ironton Iron.

Because they are such peaceful animals, working with the horses was soothing and helped him relax.

With 37 horses including appaloosas, quarter horses and thoroughbreds, his 40-acre farm is full of animals.

He also has two types of cattle, dogs, chickens and a bull that became notorious for getting loose at the 2002 Memorial Day parade.

He named his farm Southern Cross Farms because he is located in the southern part of Ohio and they needed a brand for their cattle.

"This was my father's farm," he said. "I have been here all my life -- 52 years."

Sprouse and his team of six to eight workers left this weekend to go to Columbus to get ready for for the Quarter Horse Congress, one of the biggest horse shows in the world.

Although he will not be entering any of his horses in the show, they will care for and prepare stalls for 200 to 300 horses.

Some of the horses he will take care of are enormous and extremely valuable. One horse weighs about 1,800 pounds and is insured for more than $1 million, he said.

He said he has been doing it so long that it does not add any pressure.

After spending the next three weeks at the Congress, they will come home for a week and then hit the road again to go the the Quarter Horse World Show in Oklahoma City.

In the past, he has cared for horses owned by celebrities including former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, country musician George Strait and NASCAR driver Kyle Petty.

Despite his years of experience, Sprouse said he would not be able to do it without having good, quality people.

"It takes a lot of good help to get anything done"

and it is the love of the animals that keeps him doing it.

"Once you get into it, it is hard to give them up," Mary Roach, an assistant to Sprouse, said.