With the death of Edward C. Barham, 91, on February 19, 2008, in Indianapolis, IN, a great chapter in Saddle Horse history comes to an end. A great showman, trainer, judge, breeder, innovator and show ring manager, he was the son of famed trainer and judge H. C. (Christian) Barham and grandson of noted horseman William Coke Barham. Edward Barham more than fulfilled their legacies.
Known for making and showing such champions as the great WGC Nellie Pidgeon, Lady Louise, Lady Babette and Sweet Lavender, the Tennessee born Barham was associated with farms including Barham and Son, Leatherwood Farm, Wildwood Farm, and Gregnon Farm before opening his own Edward Barham Stables in Indiana. He owned and stood the top breeding stallion Denmark’s Bourbon Genius (sire of WC CH Chantilly Rose [BHF] and Barham’s Reality [BHF], to name just a few) for many years. Barham bred and later sold WGC CH Oak Hill’s Dear One to Jean McLean Davis, who became a life long friend.
Edward Barham was not just a great horseman but also an outstanding horse show manager. While serving as a director of the horse department of the Indiana State Fair Barham worked diligently to improve the Indiana State Fair Horse Show. Under his guidance the show was awarded top honors as the 1970 UPHA National Honor Show of the Year as well as winning the title of Horses magazine’s Show of the Year. It was while managing the show that Barham instigated an event that is common today. He felt strongly that horse show attendee’s final view of a class should be of the best horse, not the one tied last. Barham began asking the winner of the class to remain in the ring and make another round after the others had left. To the roars of an enthusiastic crowd the victory pass was born.
However, it was as a horse show judge that Barham may well be best remembered. With a distinctive style and superb knowledge of the rules, he suffered no fools in “his” show rings. Honest as the day is long he prided himself on his reputation as a judge who “got down to business” and never “played games”. He was meticulous in every detail when presenting horses himself and expected no less from those he judged. Over a fifty year span Barham judged every major show across the country, including the Kentucky State Fair, multiple times. Known for never wavering in his decisions and never compromising his ideals, Edward Barham was inducted into the Kentucky State Fair Hall of Fame in 1991, thirty years after his father, H. C. Barham’s, induction, and one hundred years after his grandfather, Wm. C. Barham, helped organize what would become the ASHA.
Edward Barham is survived by his wife of 48 years Sandra, son Edward Christian and grandchildren Thomas and Nicholas Barham.
The family suggests that memorial gifts be sent to The American Saddlebred Museum, 4083 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY, 40511.