History of Steed Enterprises, Inc.
Our custom-custom designed whips originated from an attempt to recreate the antique hickory hand-carved riding whips. In the saddle horse industries, they were called walk-trot sticks, and as the legend goes, they were made from hickory that had been soaked for weeks in water, oftentimes a creek or brook down behind the barn. The hickory was then naturally dried until it was able to be carved or "whittled". From skilled hands, came some of the prettiest whips mother nature and man could make. While that craft could still be alive somewhere, hardly anyone has the time it takes to make such a hand-crafted piece of equestrian art.
When, in 1991, Steed owner Terry Dillard was asked by her trainer Mary Mac Lancaster (of Frankfort, KY) to show a walk-trot horse in Louisville at the World Championship Horse Show, "Mac" loaned Terry her hickory walk-trot stick. It was quite an honor. From that day forward, Terry began research to see how that type of whip could be manufactured today. When it was found that making a whip like that by machine was next to impossible, because the wood bowed and broke as it was being turned in such a slender shape, it was decided to make just the handle out of wood.
Over the next three years, whip manufacturers, metal workers and packaging specialists were contacted. But none of the pieces fell together without someone to make the handles. A friend finally offered to make the first Steed whips. They were made in the workshop of his basement in Goshen, Kentucky. Originally named "The Goshen Stick", after their place of birth, these first five whips were sold to one person at the first horse show that they were taken to. When, after three years, the product finally worked and sold, there was relief and worry. It's great to create a product, but now with the possibility of a market share, where and how can they be made? The friend in Goshen made the first ones as a favor, but a full-time job prevented him from having the time to make more than a very few of these whips. Luckily, this friend had a solution, and with a suggestion to Terry, Terry's life and the future of STEED ENTERPRISES, INC. was changed forever.
The friend introduced Terry to Clay Johnson, a part-time wood turner, and full-time employee of a wood veneer company. Clay was more than willing to accept the challenge, and together they developed the whips. Clay quit his job at the veneer company, decided to operate his part-time business (Choice Woods, Inc.) as a full-time business, and as woodturner and dealer of exotic and domestic woods, offered great resources for STEED.
He offered great resources for Terry too. In May of 1996, Clay interrupted a horse show during the class in which Terry was showing, and drove a white horse into the ring. He got out of the cart, and walked over to an unsuspecting Terry while she was waiting in the line-up, and proposed marriage. They married on Valentine's Day in 1997, with their reception at the Rock Creek Riding Club. Since then they have traveled across the United States working 8-10 shows each season. And while whips can be ordered by phone or e-mail while at their home base in Louisville, Kentucky, Clay and Terry also continue to operate their other full-time businesses.
As the whips developed, designs have been dictated mostly by customer needs. The first two years, we carried a limited edition handle style. While not created any more, some of these are still in existence and are being used today. They were numbered, and no more than 80 were made in each of two years. Customers collect these.
Shapes have been designed for everyone from the youngest (lead-lind competitors who have requested whips as short as 14") to senior citizens with arthritis. Our whips, while durable, are made for show, and not recommended for everyday around-the-barn use. Handles can be relatively plain (we call them the "straight" styles), to those which have beads to stop the rider's hand from slipping too far down the shaft or through the hand and dropped. The "beads" which are a part of the wood, are simply larger in diameter, and eliminate the use of electrical tape which some use to keep their hands from slipping. The "cane" style, for example, has beads scattered much like nature's cane, allowing for a good grip wherever you hold the handle. We can even create a "bulge" in the center of a handle for those with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome or any other type of hand trouble which does not permit the hand to close securely.
Our riding and driving whips are manufactured specifically for us. However, at times, we can put one of our handles on a whip that you supply. That depends on the whip and its structure. These we must see first before we can commit to completing the job. Our drop lash whips can be feather-lite to the touch. All whips can be personalized with monogrammed initials on a button at the end of each whip. Each whip comes with a pouch to protect the end button, and is packaged in a protective green cardboard tube. We also carry a line of whip cases constructed of PVC and covered with cordura.
We are proud and very grateful to have been accepted within the various breeds in the equine world.. Each and every whip made is different, and unique to only you. And as our customers' needs will always vary, so, too, will our products.
We hope to be able to
make a whip just for you! And we wish you the best of luck in your showing
Thank you for visiting our web site.
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