AQHA President Ralph Seekins shares highlights of the horses and people he met during his latest road trip from Texas to Alaska.
By AQHA President Ralph Seekins | June 14, 2017
In life, one thing seems to lead to another until eventually you stumble upon an adventure. I’ve learned in such a case, it’s good to be a member of the AQHA family, and I’d like to share why.
Our old three-horse bumper-pull trailer was coming up on its 20th birthday, so my wife, Connie, and I decided to start shopping. After shopping around at the Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show last year, we made the arrangements for our new trailer from Hart Trailer Co.
However, we quickly realized we needed something to pull it with. Of course, that “something” had to be a new Ford truck! Ford trucks are the long-time official truck of AQHA. My good friend, AQHA Past President Johnny Trotter, helped me find the perfect truck from Whiteface Ford, located in Hereford, Texas.
(Our new Ford F-350 Platinum level Crew Cab powered by Ford’s Power Stroke diesel engine)
Connie and I picked up our truck in April after the AQHA Executive Committee meeting and from there, we were Alaska bound. The first leg of the trip was from Amarillo to Guthrie, Oklahoma, where AQHA Professional Horseman and Director-At-Large Wayne Halvorson and his wife, AQHA judge Rebecca Halvorson, kindly let us stay so we could pick up our trailer and start our journey north.
As all horse owners understand, it would seem a huge waste to pull a new horse trailer from Texas to Alaska without horses in the stalls. Fortunately, our daughter, Beth Austin, found two horses for a couple of her 4-H’ers that needed a ride to Fairbanks. She had the horses shipped to the Halvorson Ranch in Guthrie, where we collected them for the trip north.
While in Oklahoma, we also stopped to visit the Better Barrel Races World Championships. There were more than 3,200 barrel-racing entries and horses running every 60 seconds. It was intense competition for bragging rights and marvelous prizes and payouts. AQHA broke new ground by sponsoring a $10,000-added side pot exclusively for registered American Quarter Horses, ridden by AQHA members.
With one more spot in the trailer and the recent loss of a few of our horses, Connie and I decided we needed to fill it. We headed to the ranch of AQHA Professional Horseman Kevin Dukes and his wife, Melissa, in Weatherford, Texas. It was there that we picked up a 3-year-old Appendix mare named Alotta Sweetness.
(Alotta Sweetness stretches out at home in Fairbanks)
While we waited for the necessary international health papers to be gathered for our new mare, the Dukes family hosted us to a tour of their facility, dinner and a fantastic movie night. Even though we enjoyed our time with the Dukeses, it was time to head north!
After we picked up all three horses, we headed north toward Lincoln, Nebraska. We tapped into the worldwide network of our AQHA family who lived near Lincoln, and I called our good friend Lori Bucholz, an AQHA director from Nebraska. She put us in touch with Lincoln resident and AQHA Director-At-Large Scott Merritt, who graciously invited us to overnight the horses at his place. After a great night spent with Scott, we loaded up the next morning and hit the road for our next stop in Casper, Wyoming.
Since I couldn’t recall any folks in or near Casper, Wyoming, I pulled up the Wyoming State Quarter Horse Association website. After a quick phone call to Krystal Jackson, the Association’s secretary and treasurer, we found stalls available at the Casper fairgrounds to spend the night.
(Krystal Jackson helping Connie unload)
The next day, we continued on our journey north. A short rest stop for the horses and a quick meal in Billings, Montana, allowed us a brief visit with my brother, Larry, and his wife, April. Next, we headed west toward Great Falls, hoping to reach Lethbridge, Alberta, for the night.
Once again, the value of being a member of the world-wide AQHA family came into play. Canadian Quarter Horse Association President Wayne Burwash and AQHA Director-At-Large Ross Brigden teamed up to put us in contact with long-time AQHA member Bob McCutcheon, who has a place just outside Lethbridge. After Canadian Customs cleared us through, we found Bob’s place and, with his help, tucked in the three travelers for the night. The next day, thanks to Bob’s generosity, we were set with first-class feed for the rest of the trip home.
Our next stop was Dawson Creek in northern British Columbia. It was there that we planned to lay over for a day to rest the horses for the final two long legs of our Texas-to-Alaska trip. That evening, we arrived at the Lakota Agriplex, where we found a group of cutting horse enthusiasts all set for a Loren Christianson Cutting Horse Clinic, hosted by the Peace River Cutting Horse Association, the next day. We quickly made a bunch of new friends whose passion for their great American Quarter Horses was the catalyst that brought us together. Well rested after our one-day layover, we loaded up and headed down the road with Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, as our next destination.
(Our new friends at the Lakota Agriplex)
We pulled into Watson Lake that evening and stalled the horses at the Watson Lake rodeo grounds for the night. Now, you’d think that being on the road with a load of horses in the Yukon Territory of Canada, you wouldn’t know a single soul. But right there at the rodeo grounds our friend Janie Call and her son pulled in for the night, with seven horses in tow headed for her Anchorage therapeutic riding program. Horses sure do seem to bring folks together.
The next morning, we treated ourselves to a good hot breakfast, fueled the truck and picked up the horses at the rodeo grounds. We finally rolled into our place at about 1 a.m. Our daughters, Beth and Andrea, were there to greet us and help unload the horses. The three passengers eagerly scoped out what was their new home and welcomed their fresh shavings-filled stalls. Connie and I gratefully headed for our own comfortable bed.
If you ever want to make the trip hauling horses from Texas to Alaska, feel free to give us a call. We can tell you where to eat, where to fuel, what to look for and where to stay. And we’ll tell you about the excellent, comfortable Hart trailer and Ford truck that made the trip so easy on the horses and on us. But, most of all, we’ll tell you about all the fine AQHA family members we met and fellowshipped with along the way. It’s really great to be part of this world-wide family!
Connie and I are AQHA Proud!