Lassos and Legends Local horse lovers
pay tribute to a legend By David Lias
Plain Talk It's little wonder that Frances Loiseau is known as a living legend in the horse industry in South Dakota. She has held steadfast to two constant beliefs during her years of raising horses in the Flandreau area. Great horses, like great men, have great mothers, according to Frances, the 2007 South Dakota Horse Council Horsewoman of the Year. Another of her beliefs: "It takes ability and opportunity for a great horse to be recognized." Frances shared her wisdom and highlights of her years of experience raising horses during a special event entitled "Lassos and Legends" held Saturday night at the Clay County Extension Building in Vermillion by the Clay County Lucky Trailblazers 4-H Club. The event, sponsored by Frenchman's Quarter Horses, Westergren Quarter Horses and Loiseau Construction, attracted a capacity crowd. Before Frances gave her presentation, the crowd broke bread together, dining on barbecued pork sandwiches, potatoes, salads and homemade desserts. When it came time for Frances to speak, one couldn't doubt that she was an authority on the subject of raising some of the best horses in the country. Frances has been recognized in the Western Horseman: Living Legends 6, AQHA Journal, and numerous trade publications. She is the breeder of four-time world champion, French Flash Hawk 'Bozo', owned and ridden by Kristi Peterson. Frances is also the breeder of Frenchmans Guy, the all time leading performance horse sire, owned by Bill and Deb Myers. Horses have always been a part of Frances' life. Her close relationship with raising and caring for the animals has been passed along to her family. "When I was growing up, I could drive horses, I could drive a team when I wasn't very old," she said. "And I can remember coming home from school and I was sent out to the cornfield. They (family members) were pulling a corn picker with three horses, and I was to drive a team of horses with an empty wagon up by the elevator." Horses were a constant part of her family as she grew older. During her high school years, she and her brother often rode horses to herd cattle. "One summer that we had to that was when the book Gone with the Wind came out," Frances said. "My mother made a cloth bag to hang over the saddle horn, and all that summer, I read Gone with the Wind. It was a good, thick book, and I didn't mind that one bit." Frances and her husband, James, purchased their first registered quarter horse, Lady Sunrise, in the late 1950s in part with a little help from Mother Nature. "We lived in a hail area, so every year, we always had hail insurance," Frances said. "Well, one year we got completely hailed out, and we got a check from the insurance company for $20,000. At that time, $20,000 was a lot of money." The Louiseaus purchased Lady Sunrise for $1,000. In 1963, they purchased Casey's Ladylove. Those two animals represent the foundation of what would become a multi-generational experience in raising horses with extraordinary traits and pedigrees. The first time Frances laid eyes on Casey's Poco X Lady Diane, in a show ring during a horse show, she thought the horse was beautiful. So while her husband was outside the show ring looking at other horses, she offered a bid, and ended up purchasing the horse. It was her first solo purchase. Casey's Poco X Lady Diane was the top competitor for the Loiseau children, and matriarch and cornerstone for what's known as "The Frenchman's Foundation." She produced the following great horses: Frenchman's Bars in 1965, Frenchman's Fox in 1968, the first 2-year-old mare to run AAA in South Dakota, and Frenchman's Luck AA in 1969. After James died in 1977, the legacy of producing great horses continued when Frances entered several mares into a partnership with Pat Cowan of Highmore. This partnership produced Frenchman's Jet and Frenchman's GoJet, which ran back-to-back races and were named South Dakota Running Horse of the Year and Derby Champion respectively. The family of horse champions continued, thanks to the birth of Casey's Charm, who proved to be true maternal powerhouse for Frances. This horse produced Flash Frost, a 1986 gelding by Sun Frost, who was winner of over $50,000. Casey's Charm also produced French Flash Hawk, a 1987 sorrel gelding by Sun Frost. Another superior horse descended from Casey's Charm was Frenchman's Dox Dakota, a 1989 bay gelding by Boon Dox John, the WPRA Badland Circuit champion. Other outstanding stallions produced by Frances include PC Frenchman's Mark, Frenchman's Fabulous, PC Frenchman's Hayday, and PC Frenchman. A major milestone for Frances occurred in 1999, when she sold PC Frenchman for $200,000. In a career filled with highlights, Frances places the credit clearly on the backs of her horses. "It's been about the horses, it's never been about me," she said. "They have made their own fate."