The Arenosa Pony Farm Story
by Scott Uzzel
The story of the famed Arenosa Pony Farm started in 1941, when Audrey and Clinton
Barrett first came to Victoria, Texas. At that time, most of the local cowboys had gone
into the military, leaving the ranch work to the women, children, and those too old for
the draft. Audrey, a former Miss Arkansas Ranch Girl, had owned a riding academy in
Arkansas and was an expert horsewoman. With an outstanding string of cow horses,
she found plenty of work on the local ranches. Children of friends and neighbors were
always asking Audrey to ride her saddle horses, which she did not allow. A couple of
grade ponies were purchased to occupy these area children. Later some mares were
added to raise a few foals to help defray the cost of keeping the ponies. Arenosa
Pony Farm was born.
The lives of many Victoria area children were enriched through Audrey Barrett and
her Arenosa Shetland ponies Several local children who were headed down the
wrong path were righted by the efforts of Audrey and her mission to introduce
youngsters to the joys of working with Shetlands. Over the years, Audrey worked with
hundreds of children, sometimes as many as 20 at a time, with some being as young
as two years old.
“During the summer months, the parents had to come out here to visit their children,”
People often wonder where the Arenosa name originated. At one time the Barretts
were going to raise ponies on a farm owned by Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Readding, along
Arenosa (Spanish for dry) Creek in Victoria County. That plan did not develop, but
because ponies had been entered in several shows under the Arenosa banner, the
In the late 1950s the Barretts began acquiring nationally known show ponies for their
breeding program, including Richardson’s C-Jo Topper, a “Top Ten” harness pony
and son of the $56,000 C-Jo’s Topper. Others included Atkinson’s Hillswicke Dark
Fancy, by Hillswicke Oracle; Richardson’s Pete of Fable Stables, an under 40” son of
six-time national grand champion Curtiss-Frisco Pete; Supreme’s Gold Nugget of
Royal Crescent, a son of the $85,000 Supreme’s Bit of Gold; and Fran R.’s Althea
Cody, a national futurity winner by Silver Mane’s Frisco Cody.
Many other royally bred Shetlands entered the Arenosa breeding program, as the
Barretts sometimes purchased entire herds of ponies from breeders who were
dispersing, keeping the best and culling the rest. Some of the top foundation stock
came from Mrs. Lloyd Richardson of Aransas Pass, Texas, who let Audrey have first
pick before dispersing her ponies.
Over the years, however, the Arenosa name has become synonymous with one
illustrious Shetland sire: Kewpie Doll’s Oracle 27889A. Foaled in 1950, this exquisite
39”, black and white stallion was sired by Hillswicke Oracle 24491A, one of the breed’s
most influential sires, and a national champion in hand and harness.
The dam of Kewpie Doll’s Oracle, Streamliner’s Kewpie Doll 25066A, was the greatest
model mare of her time, winning the blue at the National Shetland Congress in 1948
Dr. E.S. McClelland, Aledo, Illinois, purchased Kewpie Doll’s Oracle at the Perry Carlile
Sale in 1954. When McClelland dispersed his Shetlands in 1956, the sale catalog
offered the following excerpt about Kewpie Doll’s Oracle:
“Irregardless of their likes and dislikes, everyone who has seen this pony has kind
words for him. He leaves a lasting impression that few can equal ... With a natural
spring to every stride, Kewpie has the greatest pair of natural hocks we have ever
seen. Without benefit of training, he literally ‘boxes’ with his hind feet.”
On a bid of $5,100, Kewpie Doll’s Oracle went to E.C. Adams, Sr., Blue Springs,
Missouri, where he enjoyed a successful show career in model and fine harness
classes. But it was in the hands of J.A. Stovall, Era, Texas, who owned the stallion
from 1959 to 1967, that Kewpie Doll’s Oracle came into his own as a sire. From 1961
through 1963 his get dominated the hand and group classes at the Congress, thanks
primarily to the 5-G Pony farm show string owned by J.W. Griffith, Longview, Texas.
From Stovall’s, Kewpie Doll’s Oracle went to Bob Reinhardt in Louisiana, then to
Texan Buck Bucheit, who presented the stallion to young Nancy Barrett as a gift.
While at Arenosa, Kewpie Doll’s Oracle sired many top ponies, including the sorrel
and white stallion, Kewpie’s Topper of Arenosa 128828A, the sire of many champions
in both The Classic American Shetland and Miniature Horse divisions.
“He certainly had the ability to transmit quality,” Audrey Barrett said of Kewpie Doll’s
Oracle. “To see him move was a joy to behold. He passed that down, too.”
Kewpie Doll’s Oracle passed away at Arenosa in 1973 In addition to Kewpie’s Topper
of Arenosa, he left behind another famous son in the Arenosa stallion battery, Kewpie
Doll’s Diablo 84342A. Diablo was bred by J.A. Stovall, and was described in the 1961
Stovall Production Sale catalog as “the most beautiful stud in the sale.” Diablo was
purchased by J.W. Griffith and joined the vaunted 5-G show string. Edna Kratz,
Mesquite, Texas, bought Diablo at the 5-G dispersal sale in 1964, and exhibited the
sorrel and white dynamo in under roadster classes throughout the Southwest.
The Barretts bought Diablo in 1969 for Nancy to show, with the stipulation that he
never be sold. Throughout the early 1970s, Diablo amassed wins in the roadster
stake at San Antonio, Dallas, and Pin Oak on the old Southwest circuit, defeating
several national champion road ponies along the way.
With this caliber of show ponies in the stallion battery, one would expect the Barrett’s
breeding program to gain national prominence. But the Arenosa program went
beyond that, gaining international recognition, and becoming the leading exporter of
Shetland Ponies in the United States for several years. Arenosa Shetlands have been
sold to Canada, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Guatemala, and other Latin American
The Latin American market proved to be especially lucrative during the 1970s, when
the Shetland market was at its lowest ebb in the United States. Over a period of 20
years, Senor Perotti of Guatemala, an importer of fine livestock from Europe and the
United States, imported dozens of Arenosa Shetlands. His son of Diablo, Painted
Indian, was named grand champion stallion of Central America at a show in
Honduras. Arenosa Shetlands were also owned by the mayor of Monterrey, Mexico,
and the president of Honduras.
At a time when crossbreeding to Hackneys was rampant in the Shetland breed,
Audrey Barrett steadfastly refused to crossbreed. Instead, she intensely line-bred her
ponies in order to retain as much closeness to Kewpie Doll’s Oracle as possible. The
average size of the Arenosa ponies was 40”. However, many were small enough to be
registered as Miniature Horses, as well. Two of the better known Arenosa miniatures
were the many-times-champion F.W.F. Charro of Arenosa and Juana Machete of
Arenosa. Three Arenosa animals were entered in Volume 1 of the American Miniature
Horse Registry Stud Book, all with their Shetland pedigrees intact!
During the 1980s, Audrey rejected several lucrative offers from prominent Miniature
Horse breeders to buy her entire herd of Classic American Shetlands.
“I couldn’t imagine living my life without Shetland Ponies,” she said. “I tell them that
they don’t have enough money to buy me out. The ponies bring me more pleasure
than the money ever could.”
Arenosa was at the forefront of the Classic American Shetland movement that began
in the early 1980s. When the first annual National Classic American Shetland All-
Stars were announced in 1983, three of the top five stallions, three of the top five
mares, and two of the top five pleasure driving ponies were Arenosa owned and bred.
Kewpie’s Gabriella of Arenosa 132389A was the first National All-Star Champion
Classic Mare. Kewpie’s Topper of Arenosa was the Reserve Champion Classic
At the 1992 annual meeting of the American Shetland Pony Club, Audrey Barrett was
inducted into the ASPC People Hall of Fame, a fitting tribute to a lifetime devoted to
raising the finest in Classic American Shetland Ponies.
|Kewpie'sTopper of Arenosa
by Kewpie Doll's Oracle