Walker captures Classic Ranch Horse competition for second year
Charlie Walker was on the edge of his seat watching the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic Ranch Horse competition. When his horse, Hicks Little Pepper, was announced the winner, Walker was overjoyed.
“This is the second year we have won the ranch horse competition here at the Classic,” Walker said. “I am very proud of this accomplishment!”
Walker is also quite proud of the horse’s rider and trainer, his younger cousin, Ethan Walker.
“Ethan has liked doing this since he was a kid,” said the seasoned horseman. “He went to college at Panhandle State and worked for a professional trainer for three years before going out on his own. He has learned well. I think he is one of the best young trainers I know.”
Twenty-three of the best ranch horses in Nebraska and its neighboring states were selected to compete in the Classic Ranch Horse competition this year at Kearney, Neb. Those horses were then sold that evening at the Classic Horse sale. Walker, who won last year’s event with Miss Boon Doll, never hesitated to enter this year’s event.
“I really enjoy working with the reined cow horse and cutting horse,” he said. “This event covers all of that from reining to cutting to working the fence.”
Walker has worked with horses at his home in Ludell, Kan., most of his life. Walker has a farm and a ranch where he raised crops and had a cow/calf operation. Several years ago, he sold his cows, and leased out his farmground. Now, he spends most of his time with the horses. Walker still rides, but he doesn’t enter competitions.
“I have a bad hip, and sometimes riding doesn’t agree with it,” he said.
Although he has raised horses most of his life, Walker got out of the business for a while when his daughter was in high school and college.
“My daughter was a really good basketball player, so we were gone a lot watching her play,” he said.
“About 10 years ago, I decided to get back into the horses, so I started searching for some new broodmares,” Walker continued.
After searching many newspapers and magazines for breeders and horse sales, he took a road trip to South Dakota and found what he was looking for at the home of well-known trainer Frank Kenzy.
“I ended up with two things that day,” Walker fondly recalls. “I got two really nice mares that have become the foundation of my breeding program, and I have developed a great friendship with Frank.”
Walker bred the Annie’s Little Pepper daughters he has to some well-known stallions.
“I hand-picked those mares, so I have been breeding them to more cutter-type stallions to put more sting in the offspring,” he said. He has been very happy with the results. “We have campaigned a daughter of Annie’s Little Pepper, and showed her in South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming,” he said.
Jessabelle Pepper has a COA in cutting and Reining Cow Horse competition with winnings over $30,000. Walker’s winning horse at this year’s Classic is a full brother to Jessabelle Pepper.
Walker said he has also been quite successful selling the offspring.
“We have some outstanding prospects among our started 3-year-olds that we are offering for sale. It is possible we won’t have any left to show in the cowhorse futurities ourselves. We may end up competing in a few more cutting horse events.
“Our 3-year-olds are sired by such outstanding stallions as Playboys Buck Fever, Hickorys Advantage, Annies Little Pepper, and Dual Playin,” Walker said. “We have younger horses by and mares bred to Sophisticated Catt, Meradas Money Talks, Rap Cat, Palo Duro Cat, Hickorys Advantage, Annies Little Pepper, and Hickorys Ace Vantage.”
Walker said Ethan starts all the colts he produces from the broodmares. The horses are very gentle, and easy to handle.
“Everyone says you can’t ride papers, but when I am looking at a horse, the first thing I want to see is its pedigree,” he explained. “Then, I like to watch the horse move and see how athletic it is. I also like to select horses with a calm disposition that have a good mind and are easy to train.
“For instance,” he continued, “take the 3-year-old mare I have in training in Colorado. What I like about her is the trainer has said he doesn’t have to ride her as hard to get her to the same place as some of the other horses he has in training. I think it is a lot easier to keep a horse sound when you can do that,” he added.
Although Walker has many qualities that are important to him when selecting a horse, color isn’t one of them.
“I am not color conscious,” he said. “When you go to a lot of shows, you will notice about 90 percent of the good horses are bays or sorrels,” he said. “Most of the horses I have are either bay or sorrel.”
Since the Classic, Walker is looking forward to the future. With a good trainer and good horses, the sky is the limit. For more information about Walker Quarter Horses, Charlie can be reached at (785) 626-0013. For training inquiries, contact Ethan at (785) 322-5659.