Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Hagen-Renaker "Brookside Stella" Hackney Pony

Hagen-Renaker Monrovia "Brookside Stella"
with replacement wooden base.

One of Maureen Love's earliest designs for Hagen-Renaker was the B-644 Hackney Pony "Brookside Stella," designed and named after a real show pony. The model was one of two Monrovia HR designs with a foil sticker on the bottom of a base giving information about the breed (the other was the Lipizzan). "Brookside Stella" was first issued in Fall 1956-Spring 1958, reissued Fall 1983-Spring 1985, and later reissued as a Special Run for BreyerFest in 2008.

Left, Monrovia (1950s) version; center and right, San Marcos (1980s) reissues.

Sticker on base of Monrovia model.

2008 BreyerFest Special Run models, black and charcoal.
We know the real Brookside Stella was a pony and not a horse because of book and newspaper records of horse shows during the post-World War II era. Brookside Stella was owned and driven in Hackney Pony harness classes, and later shown in halter, by the redoubtable Southern California socialite Mrs. J.A. Smith. She, along with her husband, owned dozens of Hackney ponies (many of whom had the prefix "Brookside") and Shetland ponies, which Mrs. Smith showed in harness and halter classes around the country, sometimes taking 16-18 ponies at at a time on the road to shows. Brookside Stella's name appears in the show results for Hackneys under 13 hands high.

Shreveport, Louisiana Times, June 1, 1949.

The earliest records I've been able to find of Mrs. Smith and Stella are from 1949, and the last mention of little Stella I've found was in a photo showing her standing next to her handler at the Smith's pony farm, in a 1955 issue of the Los Angeles Times. Brookside Stella's name also appears in a 1951 newspaper article on the Grand National Exposition, Horse Show and Rodeo at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, as having been "exhibited by Kenmore Stables," and also as being owned by Kenmore Stables at the 1951 Los Angeles International Horse Show. Kenmore Stables was in San Diego, so it appears that little Stella changed hands more than once. She was back at the Smith pony ranch by 1955, though, as we know from the LA Times article from the same year, and from the foil sticker on the base of the HR "Brookside Stella" from 1956.

Los Angeles Times, February 6, 1955. 

An interesting footnote to this story is that some of Mrs. Smith's other ponies competed against the Hackneys owned by the Owl Truck and Construction Company, which also owned the team of Belgian horses that included Sespe Violette, subject of another Maureen Love design for Hagen-Renaker, the B-567 Belgian mare of the same name.

My own Monrovia "Brookside Stella" lost her original base over the years, so she now has a new wooden one.

"Brookside Stella" group shots courtesy of the online Hagen-Renaker Museum.

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