A big black horse following people around might be thought of as an omen to some people. Not to Sandy and Ivan Chrapko of SSS Morgans. It was 1996 and they were at a dispersal sale at a guest ranch looking for a few horses to ride to help release stress from their jobs in Government and their aTatanka-highestEngineering business.

The big black horse was a gelding named “Morgan’s Ace” and since he kept on following them, Sandy suggested to her husband that he try him. It ended up being Sandy who tried him out, and she was in love. “I still have him and he is my main riding horse though he is 21 years old,” says Sandy. He was the first horse that started them on the path breeding quality Morgan horses in Alberta.

Both Sandy and Ivan were raised on farms and were looking to purchase a stallion and a few broodmares. They met Dorothea Hildreth of Bessia Morgans in Montana.  “We told her when her stallion Sharthunder and her mare Jubarose had a stud colt to let me know,” says Sandy. “In 1997 we got the call that we had our boy!”

Bessia’s Tatanka arrived at their farm in Pincher Creek and the Chrapko’s set off to find the right mares to match Tatanka. They researched bloodlines and colour genetics to find just the right match to produce western working Morgans.

At that time, their breeding program included another stallion but the Chrapko’s learned that most people wanted to breed to Tatanka. “Tatanka became one of the busiest Morgan stallions with his breeding card,” comments Sandy.

SSS Morgans first sale was made to a man in Indiana. “It took off from there,” says Sandy. “We had agreements for unborn foals and people waiting for foals.  We could not keep up with the demand and bought more mares.”

aSSS_foalReferrals made by Dorothea Hildreth helped SSS Morgans crack the international market. Morgan’s bred in Pincher Creek can be found in Europe and coast to coast in the United States and Canada.  SSS Morgans mares and foals have been on display at Spruce Meadows and the Calgary Stampede.

Sandy comments, “Our farm has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and on the radio because of our success, and our love of this magnificent breed. The selling of our horses in Italy was our biggest accomplishment, resurrecting the Morgan breed there.  It was a fantastic opportunity for us!”

The Chrapko’s admit that mistakes were made along the way, sometimes Sandy’s heart ruled over her reason.  “We tried to be responsible and honest to both the horses and the people we dealt with. Many of our customers were repeat, some up to thirteen horses from us!”

In 2001, Sandy was diagnosed with cancer.  She comments, “Trying to find a way to tell my kids I went and saw my horse Morgan’s Ace and he put his head on my shoulder and kept it there while I cried.  During my treatments my family and these wonderful animals helped to keep me going.”

Thankfully, Sandy is still going strong: “We are still breeding, showing, training and selling! None of us can imagine our life without Morgans and now we have grandchildren that are getting started!  We thank everyone we have come into contact with because of the Morgan breed.  Each one of them has brought something to our lives.”

Bessia Morgans now stands a son of Tatanka, SSS Tatanka’s Black Licorice while SSS Morgans continues to stand Bessia’s Tatanka.

The Chrapko’s would like to tell you that if you’re ever in the Pincher Creek area, they keep a bed open for weary travelers looking for just the right horse. You may even get treated to fresh baking upon being welcomed into their home!