Stonebroke Kennels
100% Field Bred English Springer Spaniels

The Stonebroke Story….

Trigger, Sam, Rosie, and Wings… 1993

I am asked every now and then how I got started breeding Springers. About 30 years ago or so I was looking for a gundog. I was in Vermont visiting the family and saw a litter of Llewellin Setters advertised in New Hampshire, so I drove over to take a look. The breeder was George Hickox. He had Grouse Wing Kennels at the time. Today George is quite well known for his dog training DVD’s, training seminars, etc. I had no idea who he was and at the time he was field trailing and breeding Springers. When I got there, George wasn’t home, so his wife took me back to the kennels to see the pups. When we got back to the kennels I noticed 4 or 5 Springers in the kennel runs. I’d read about them, but had never seen one. I quickly forgot about the Llewellins and started asking questions about the Springers. To say they caught my interest is an understatement. They didn’t have any Springer pups available, but I asked what their bloodlines where, and when I got back to Montana I started doing more research. I eventually found a breeder in Wisconsin who had a litter from similar lines and was able to get a pup from him. I named the pup “Keluke’s Wild Rose”…. my old “Rosie”. I paid $350 for her, which at that time for me was a pile of money. This was all before the internet so the only resource at the time was Gundog Magazine and getting on the phone and calling people. I learned about another magazine, “Spaniels in the Field”, and quickly subscribed to it.

“Rosie” was an absolutely wonderful dog. I shot countless birds over her and in the home she was the sweetest dog imaginable so I decided to breed her. My Dad had bred hounds when I was a kid, so I had a pretty good idea of what was involved with breeding dogs. When I made the decision to breed I told my wife I was either going to breed the best dogs possible, or I wasn’t going to do it at all. I started looking for a quality stud dog to breed Rosie to and decided on AFC Orion’s Ebony Repeater. “Pete’s” owner, Brenda Falkowski, lived in Oklahoma. She had ran an ad in Spaniels in the Field offering Pete at stud. I ended up shipping Rosie to Brenda and we got 9 beautiful pups. The stud fee at that time was $400. The stud fee, air freight to ship Rosie to Oklahoma, etc. were a bit of stretch financially (to say the least!). So, when I was thinking of a name for my kennel “Stonebroke” popped into my mind as that’s pretty much what I was. I advertised the pups in local newspapers and Gundog Magazine for $275. A fellow in town chuckled and told me no one would pay $275 for a dog. I ended up placing all of the pups and kept one and named her “Stonebroke’s Wings”. I couldn’t decide which pup to keep. There were 4 females in the litter. When people came to pick out their pup, I let them pick. It came down to two pups left…Wings and another pup that was a bit larger. A fellow from Helena came and picked Wings, but was headed to Fort Peck for the weekend and said he’d pick his pup up on the way back. When they came back to pick up their pup he said his wife had changed her mind and wanted the other pup, so I ended up with Wings.

Wings was a smaller dog…about 34 pounds, but she was a crackerjack. When it was time to breed her I shipped her back to Don Cande in New Hampshire to be bred by FC/AFC Pondview’s Windy Acres Yankee. Before breeding to Yankee I’d visited Don and we went out and shot some pigeons over Yankee. I ended up breeding Wings to Yankee four times. Don treated me very, very well. He told me Wings was the nicest Springer he had bred Yankee to and Yankee was bred to a ton of dogs! Wings produced some great pups including 4 field champions and a couple of Master Hunters as well as many great companion gundogs. Her pups included FC/AFC Stonebroke’s River Scout, CFC Stonebroke’s Tick Fever, CFC Windryden Sprite, and AFC Stonebroke’s High Roller. Wings was stolen when she was about 11 years old.

I tried breeding Rosie to Yankee also, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with him. I shipped her back and Don kept her there a couple of weeks and finally called me up and said it wasn’t going to happen and he shipped her back to me. I did breed her to AFC Heilan Laddie of Suthron Glen two times before Laddie was hit by a car. Laddie was owned by George Keillor of Houston, TX. I kept one pup from Rosie and Laddie and named him “Sam”. I also bred her one time to Janet Chrisianson’s NFC Greenbriar Raider. Don Cande suggested that breeding. We got 6 really nice pups from that breeding. I kept a pup from that litter also and named her Sadie. That was the last time I bred Rosie. Rosie lived until she was nearly 16 years old.

In the early years I didn’t have my own stud dog. I shipped Rosie and Wings to be bred many times. In addition to breeding them to Yankee, Pete, Raider, and Laddie, I shipped them to be bred to FC Windbourne’s Classic Design and NFC KB’s Sir Coach. I finally decided it was time to have my own stud dog, so after a lot of research I bought a pup out of FC/AFC Rockey’s Quest, a wonderful dog owned by Gary Riddle of Salt Lake City. I named the pup “Shag”. Shag was a big boned, muscular dog but he had an eye problem. One eye was amber colored and the other dark brown. I never had his eyes checked, but I’m pretty sure he was blind in one eye as he would always cock his head to one side when he was looking at me or marking a bird or a dummy. I ended up giving him to a friend. I then bought a pup from George Hickox in the early 1990’s and named him Trigger. He was out of FC Grouse Wing Swaps and CFC Grouse Wing Brooks. Trigger was a big, rugged dog but he had entropion so I never bred him. I had the entropion corrected and sold him to a fellow in New York State as a started dog. I then bought a pup from Don Cande out of FC/AFC Pondview’s Windy Acres Yankee and a FC Don had called “Feather” (I don’t recall her AKC name). Don kept a male from that litter and I had next pick. Don’s pup became an FC if I remember correctly, but my pup never showed much. He had a nice temperament, but was slow and clunky and just didn’t have what I was looking for in the field, so I placed him with a family in Seattle. I continued my search for a stud dog and got a pup from Casey Butz in Canada. I named him “Storm”. Storm was a very nice dog and had everything I was looking for, but he failed his CERF exam and also failed his OFA, so I placed him with a family in Billings. That was a tough one as Storm was a really nice dog. You would never suspect he had a hip problem to watch him run. He had retinal folds, which didn’t affect his vision but prevented him from being bred. I was getting pretty discouraged and couldn’t believe my bad luck, but I was determined to have a quality stud dog, so I finally decided I needed to keep a pup from one of my own litters and kept a pup from Sadie(Stonebroke’s Sadie X FC/CFC Stonebroke’s River Scout) and named him “Beeter”. Physically Better was a Black and White version of Yankee. He was a big strong dog and produced some wonderful pups, but he went sterile when he was around 6 years old. After he went sterile I once again started searching for a new stud dog and got a pup from Chuck Nelson’s Doorcreek Kennels. I named the pup “Charlie” and he proved to be a great sire and a great gundog. We had many fine litters from Charlie and other breeders used him a few times as well. I recently bought a pup from Gary Riddle out of AFC Rocky’s Crosswind’s Duke and Rocky Mountain Tuxedo. Sam is about 2 years old now and is proving to be an outstanding dog. I also bought a pup from Jeff Schwartz for my son at the same time. He is out of FC Rock River’s Brady MHA and Limestone Wendy MH. My son named him “Rocky”. Rocky is a big rugged, hard charging dog and is my son’s constant companion..

In regards to my females, years ago I bought a pup from Tom Meyers out of NAFC Bluff Creek Annie and NFC Denalisunlo’s Ring. I had second pick from this litter and named the pup “Tess”. Tess was a very nice gundog, but despite being out of two National Champions she was on the slow side and never would have made a field trial dog. I really didn’t care as I’ve never bred for field trial potential. Producing dogs that are quality hunting/family companions has always been my goal. I kept a pup from one of Tess’s litter and named her “Lil”. Her sire was my old Beeter. Lil was a smaller dog, but very wiry and athletic. She was an absolute sweetheart of a dog. I also bought a pup from Janet Christenson, my old “Echo”. Janet used frozen semen from NFC Greenbriar Raider to breed her FC Maverndale Lane. I had second pick from that litter also. Echo has been a solid gundog and is now going on 13 years of age, but like “Tess”, she never would have been a field trial prospect as she was always a slower, more methodical type of dog. I kept a pup from Echo’s last litter and named her Zena. Zena is a little crackerjack…very quick and super eager to please. I bought my Dolly from Crosswind Kennels in New York. Dolly is out of AFC Tulcan Todd and Crosswind’s War Paint. Dolly has been an outstanding dog and is still going strong. More recently I bought a pup from Gary Wilson at Sunrise Kennels in New York. She is out of FC AFC Mountain View’s Baron Brayden and Sunrise Pick Pocket JH. I named her “Sage”. I kept a pup from Sage’s first litter and named her “Feather”. I also recently bought a pup from Paul Hansen’s Goshen Kennels in Indiana. I named her “Lizzie”. Lizzie is out of FC/AFC Katagrees Master of Lightning and FC/AFC Sky Diamond. Lizzie and Sage have both developed into wonderful gundogs.

So, there you have it…..a somewhat condensed version of how Stonebroke Kennels came about and how we got to where we are today. We’ve had our share of bumps along the way, as would be expected. We’ve lost a litter to “fading Pup Syndrome”, we’ve had C-sections, sick pups at times, injuries to our dogs, a couple of tragic losses, a dog stolen (our old Wings) etc. over the years. All of those times were heartbreakers, but we’ve also had the satisfaction of placing countless pups with people and have made many, many friends along the way in addition to all the hunting memories with all the dogs we’ve had over the years. I’ve never had an interest in Field Trialing.. My interested has always been to produce quality gundogs that would excel in the field as well as the home. The Field Trial folks have been very good to me over the years. Without them being willing to provide me with quality dogs I would have never been able to do what I’ve done. The one thing I was adamant about before I started breeding was that temperament was going to be my number one priority. It’s my philosophy that how good a dog is in the field is totally irrelevant if a dog is ill tempered. I will not have an aggressive dog on my property. As it has turned out, that has never been an issue. In all the years I’ve had Springers, I’ve yet to have one that has had a poor temperament. I credit all the breeders before me for that…

Reflecting back and looking ahead, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve never counted up the number of litters we’ve had, but I’m guessing we’ve had around 50 or so over the years. As I edge closer to 70 I realize that the time will come when I will no longer be able to continue. So, my current dogs will be my last as far as breeding goes (I know, famous last words). My son has shown an interest in continuing on, so hopefully that will happen. It’s definitely a “Labor of Love”, as they say. Anyone thinking it is easy money will soon find they are probably working for about $.10 an hour (if that)! I’ve been retired for a few years now and tending to my dogs is what gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me going. If my son decides to take things over I’m sure I’ll still be involved one way or another as long as I’m able to.. I can’t imagine a life without dogs…….

“Feather”….my last pup to train up??? Time will tell. 🙂


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