Bakers raising their own piece of the pie
Each time Dick and Connie Baker look at their flashy Palomino stallion, they think of what he will mean to the future of their breeding operation. Although the Lusk, Wyo., couple have been involved with horses most of their lives, they hit a crossroads a few years ago and had to make a decision whether to continue breeding horses or quit all together. Looking at the first colts this spring out of the palomino stallion, they feel like they have made the right choice.
The Baker’s purchased the stallion, Guys Piece of the Pie, three years ago from Bill and Deb Myers. “We are very proud of him,” Baker said. “He has a fantastic disposition, and is so gentle. He is just nice to be around. We were really excited to see the first colts out of him this spring. They are really nice.”
Although Baker grew up with horses and showed them in 4-H, it wasn’t until after he married Connie, that they started raising horses. The couple’s three children were starting 4-H in the 1980s and the family couldn’t find a suitable horse at a reasonable price. “We got started because we were trying to find horses for our children to show in 4-H,” he said. Baker said they purchased their first mare, a racehorse named Forgotten Love, from Ron Ball of Brush, Colo. “We were looking for something gentle that our kids could ride and show in 4-H,” he explained.
After their initial purchase, the Bakers purchased a few more mares. “When we first started, we purchased a Paint stallion named Jagged Dakota. We just liked the coloring of the Paints, so we decided to raise some.”
As the couple learned more about horses and pedigrees, they started selecting horses that were not only gentle, but had speed and some cow in them. “We ended up with some really nice horses, but once our kids grew up we had no one to show them.”
The Bakers have twin daughters – Toni Gaukel lives closest in Keeline, Wyo., while Tara Ross lives in northern Idaho. Their son, Ty, became a graphic designer and lives in New York City.
After the horse market crashed, the Bakers decided they either needed to get out of the horse breeding business, or purchase better stock. Their decision was made when they started reading about Bill and Deb Myers and Frenchman’s Guy. “About five years ago, we went to one of the sales they had up there,” Baker said. “We were very impressed with their horses. They had such nice dispositions and had accomplished so much. They were not only good barrel racing horses, but also had a lot of cow in them. We just loved their dispositions.”
Once the Bakers decided to purchase a stallion from the Myers a few years later, they made their selection carefully. “When we saw Guys Piece of the Pie, what impressed us about him, besides that he was drop dead gorgeous, was that when you walked into his pen he came right up to you even though he was still on his mother,” Baker said. The couple purchased the stallion during the Myers sale as a weanling.
Since then, the couple has enlisted the help of Rusty and Skye Martin to train the young stallion. “He is paid up in the Fortune Futurity. When he is five, we are hoping he will be ready to compete in those barrel racing futurities,” Baker explained. “In the meantime, we hope to raise some very nice colts.”
The couple plan to take Guys Piece of the Pie to the Black Hills Stock Show. They hope the extra visibility will bring more business to their breeding program. Earlier this year, the couple took the stallion to the Wyoming Horse Expo in Douglas, Wyoming, and were pleased with the response.
Baker said the first foals from Guys Piece of the Pie were born this spring, and he is very impressed with what he sees. “Our mares are all registered Quarter Horses that have been cow-bred,” he said. “They have some really nice colts.”
The Baker’s mares have bloodlines going back to Frenchmans Guy, Coys Bananza, Zan Par Bar, Doc Lena, Smart Chick Alena, and Three Bars.
“We have really focused on selecting horses for our operation that have a good disposition,” Baker explained. “If you can’t ride them and be able to control them, they aren’t worth a lot. We still try to raise pretty big horses with lots of bone and a big hip because most of our horses still go back to people with ranches. We want to raise horses with a lot of cow in them.”
Baker said a few of the foals have been consigned to a sale in Broadus, Mont., in September. They also plan to keep a few colts to show next summer in some Quarter Horse shows. “Vicky Crofutt of Miles City, Mont., shows our yearlings at the Montana horse shows each year. We have competed primarily in Montana because the class size is larger and there is more competition,” he explained. “We mostly show yearlings in lunge line, halter and trail in hand classes,” Baker said.
“The shows have really helped us improve the quality of our horses,” he continued. “We think we have good horses until we go to the shows and see even better ones. It makes us want to continue to improve upon what we have.”
Baker said they haven’t had the opportunity to show this summer, because of the number of outside mares they have taken in for hand breeding to Guys Piece of the Pie. “That has kept us really busy,” he said. “Our place isn’t big enough to where we can set up a facility to AI, but if things keep going this well, we would like to get set up where we could.”
The couple live five miles north of Lusk, Wyo. They can be reached at (307) 334-3344.
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