It’s impossible to keep a good cowboy off his horse.
World renowned Quarter Horse breeder, horseman, always first a cowboy, Duane Walker is the living proof.
“I tell you I haven’t been riding every day since the cold weather set in,” Walker admitted. “But I’ll be on horseback when the sun shines.”
That’ll be riding pens checking 500 feeder calves at his internationally famous Tee Jay Quarter Horse Ranch in Canton.
“I depend on the younger ones to do the work, but I like to help when I can,” Walker added.
Of course first credit for the 83-year-old cowboy’s continuing industrious life goes to wife Jo. “She’s always taking care of me,” he admitted.
Ranching chores these days are responsibility of grandson cowboy, banker Trevin Prieb and his wife, cowgirl Kandee.
“They’re in charge, and of course their children, our great-granddaughter Katy, 11, and great-grandson Wes, eight, are too,” Walker insisted. “Those great-grandkids do their part horseback and help the old folks out every day, always checking up on us.”
With his most enviable Quarter Horse record, Walker has had serious health issues that he’s not let get him down. “I’m still better than I deserve. With most of the family nearby, seven great-grandkids within a half mile, how could life be better,” he surmised.
Serious heart conditions remain concern for Walker but modern medical treatment got him so he could still ride. “I’ve had to be cautious and always will,” he verified. “Then more than a year ago already, the great-grandkids and I were sorting calves horseback when another issue came up.”
It turned out to be upper leg ailments that required major surgeries keeping Walker off his horse longer than wanted.
“When I was about ready to get back on, my old gelding Ace was having his own health issues,” Walker said.
Sadly, the 19-year-old trusty gray horse of Walker’s breeding lineage succumbed.
“I didn’t think there was another horse that an old cowboy like me would be able to ride,” Walker said.
Interestingly, perhaps coincidentally all aspects considered, Trevin and Kandee had been rebuilding the Tee Jay Quarter Horse breeding program.
“We’ve kept just a few mares going back to our main Jackie Bee lines, raising their colts,” Walker noted.
With the senior cowboy’s strong support, Walker’s third generation his grandson Trevin and cowgirl wife Kandee have partnered on a top stallion.
“He’s a great horse,” Walker insisted. “Sixes Sixgun is a 13-year-old gray with a proven performance record that won’t quit.
“Now, I still get excited about breeding horses and this outstanding stallion, but it’s the kids who’re responsible,” Walker said. “It’s their initiative perhaps even more so Kandee.”
With daily chores, being a bank official, following two children to school and rodeo activities, Trevin is busy.
“Kandee is an outstanding cowgirl, trainer, horsewoman, she’s taken ahold of this new stallion and breeding operation,” Walker granted. “It’s our facilities, but they’re the ones making the decisions, doing the work.”
Sixes Sixgun’s arena successes have come with hard work, wet saddle blankets, yes training, but real dedication to ranch vocation.
“I’ve handled several top stallions, but this stud is as gentle as I’ve ever been around. Like a kid horse,” Walker said.
Watching Kandee and Trevin ride Sixes Sixgun made Walker’s adrenalin flow to mount up. “I just knew I could get along with him,” Walker said. “Trevin wasn’t so sure, but I convinced Kandee and she helped me get started on Sixgun.
“He’s so even tempered, easy going, Now, my personal mount even with Trevin’s consent,” Walker said. “That is unless Kandee or Trevin get their saddle on him first.”
That said saddling your horse can sometimes be an ordeal for a cowboy of Walker’s maturity. A rigmarole brainchild of grandson Trevin solved any issues.
“Trevin contrived this electric winch and pulley so I can saddle my own horse without much effort,” Walker appreciated.
“Sixgun doesn’t even twitch an ear when I saddle him,” the cowboy added.
For more than 50 years, Tee Jay Quarter Horse Ranch has been recognized for “Good Lookin’ Horses That Ride.” As an inductee in the AQHA Hall of Fame Walker and his Hall of Fame stallion Jackie Bee are synonymous with gray horses.
“It’s a good thing Sixgun is gray,” Walker chided.
Business partner Marty Vanier, DVM, has two Sixes Sixgun colts out of her Jackie Bee bred mare in training.
“Their disposition, conformation, and athletic ability influenced her to partner with Kandee and Trevin to stand Sixes Sixgun,” Walker said. “They are grateful to the Crofoot Ranches for the opportunity to purchase him.”
Reflecting earlier years in the Quarter Horse business, Walker said, “If Jackie Bee had been a man instead of a horse, he’d have been the one to partner with. The kind of man you’d be proud to call a friend.”
Walker and Jackie Bee with outstanding foundation Quarter Horse mares started a new family of Quarter Horses.
“At that time, they really were unique in their look, consistent in size, structure, muscling, and color,” Walker said.
Jackie Bee’s legacy came to an end in October of 1990 at the age of 28. “He’s buried in front of the pen that had been his home for most of his life,” Walker said.
The Tee Jay mares today all trace to Jackie Bee. “The blood gets thinner with each generation, but Jackie still shows through,” said Walker, of their half dozen broodmares.
Under Kandee and Trevin’s management of Tee Jay Quarter Horses, Sixes Sixgun spends the breeding season at Kansas State University.
“We have facilities here that were used for breeding mares from throughout the country,” Walker said. “However, the college is better equipped for cooling, freezing and shipping semen.
“We’ll be taking our mares there to breed,” added Walker, lifetime Quarter Horse and livestock leader. He’s been recognized many times for his unyielding service.
“I’ve been blessed and continue to be,” Walker said. “Being able to still ride a horse keeps me going emotionally and physically.”