By Cheri Peake
Famous Progency of Driftwood
Driftwood X Hancock Belle:
Driftwood X Sage Hen:
Henny Penny Peake
Poker Chip Peake
Driftwood X Shu Cat:
Other Famous Driftwoods:
French Flash Hawk
Frosty War Chief
Vicki asked me to write about Driftwood, from the heart. After considering what to write about, it felt best to tell the story of how I met my late husband, Channing Peake, and, in turn, was introduced to the legendary Driftwood, as seen through Channing’s eyes.
Channing and I first met at the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, California. My mother, myself and three of my sisters, Lesa, Melinda and Jamie, along with our maternal grandmother, were having lunch there when we met. My family had taken a trip to Santa Barbara to reward ourselves following the hard work we’d done for another sister’s wedding. Channing was in the dining room of the Biltmore, too, just a couple of tables away.
My sisters noticed that Channing had been taking pictures of us, so when he got up to leave, Lesa and Jamie followed him. They found him in the Gold Room of the Biltmore getting prepared to do some more work on his mural. He told them he’d been photographing us for the mural. After a time, they brought him back to our table, so we all could meet. Everyone enjoyed visiting and getting to know each other a little.
Channing invited the family to come back, in a few weeks, for the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade and Rodeo. We took him up on his invitation, and returned for the Fiesta. The Fiesta Rodeo was held at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. At the entrance, is a larger than life size sculpture of a cowboy on a horse. I later learned, from Channing, that the model for the horse was Wooden Nugget, a son of Driftwood’s. Wooden Nugget and Speedy Peake were both kept by the Peake Ranch as replacement sires for Driftwood.
A few weeks later Channing came to visit our family. An exhibition of his had just ended, and he was picking up his artwork at Gallery Eight in Claremont, California, not too far from where we lived. He invited my sister, Lesa, and I to come along. He dropped us off at a restaurant while he went to the gallery to pack up and load his paintings and drawings. While Lesa and I waited, we decided to visit some of the shops. We were browsing in a nearby bookstore, and I bought a book about Quarter Horses. Back at the restaurant, thumbing through it, there was Channing’s name! The author told the story of Channing almost buying Poco Bueno. That interested me, because I had, at the time, a granddaughter of Poco Bueno, Poco Volar, by Poco Rey and out of a daughter of Silver King. Until I read the story about Channing, I had no clue of his history with the Quarter Horse. Our references, to that point, had been only about the arts.
This is the Poco Bueno story that Channing told me. In the mid forties Frank Vessels, Sr., Channing’s friend, and later owner of Los Alamitos Racetrack, was planning to send his veterinarian around the Southwest to look for a stud horse. Channing was looking, too, so asked to go along. It was during the war, and Channing had the gas coupons and, Dr. Lampkin, had the station wagon. They saw Poco Bueno in Texas. Poco Bueno was a yearling then, and Channing was so impressed that he called his first wife, Katy, and said he wanted to buy him. Lampkin and Vessels couldn’t decide if they wanted him, and didn’t make up their minds until the end of the trip. As soon as Channing learned they were passing, he called Jess Hankins to purchase Poco Bueno, but Hankins had just sold him to E. Paul Waggoner.
Over the years, Channing spoke fondly, and often about Driftwood. He had the pleasure of riding him. He told me that Driftwood was fast, athletic, and had an intelligent, good mind. And, that Driftwood passed those same great qualities on to his offspring. He always spoke about Driftwood with enormous affection and respect.
The Peake horses competed, but were also working horses. The Peake Ranch aka Rancho Jabali also raised Angus cattle, so the horses had plenty of opportunity to do ranch work. From Channing’s experience, using the horses on the ranch contributed to their being of sound mind, and sure-footedness. He especially liked the cross with the (One-eyed) Waggoner mares they’d acquired. Channing said they were “hair-trigger,” mostly Dappled Greys, and that you couldn’t relax on them, but they had intelligence and tremendous athletic ability. The renowned rope horse, Poker Chip Peake, was one, by Driftwood and out of Sage Hen, a daughter of Waggoner. Poker Chip was considered one of the "world's greatest roping horses." In 1979 he was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, and was buried at the The National Cowboy Hall of Fame. It was said, "Any cowboy could get on Poker and win." Channing told me the Hancock mares were a good cross, also. And he liked the cross with the Lucky Blanton’s.
Channing wanted to learn all he could about roping, so he built a first class roping arena on the property. His vision to attract the best ropers worked. The top cowboys from far and wide came to use the new roping arena, and competitions were held there.
Channing was a competitive team roper. He was the header, and his team roping partner, the heeler, was Roy Wales. They won buckles at the Salinas Rodeo.
The Quarter Horse breeding program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, was started with the Peake’s donation of five Driftwood mares.
Channing rode many sons and daughters of Driftwood, not only doing the ranch work, but also competitively. Channing spoke of Driftwood as a family member. He dearly loved and respected him. The barn, that was Driftwood’s home, was right next door, and just steps away, from the Peake’s home. A California ranch house style that Channing designed.
It’s heartwarming to see the many number of Driftwood breeders around the country that continue to breed for quality performance horses.
With thanks to Melinda Storgard for her historical input, and proof reading.