WALKIEN JESSE SKYWALKER
CRTWH #3232 & TWHBEA 20513459
Written By: Marjorie Lacy, Uphill Farm, Box 7326, Edson, AB T7E 1V5 780-723-2547 firstname.lastname@example.org:
Never fall in love with a horse through a photo! But that’s just what I did a few years ago. Jean Rempel of Winfield, Alberta, a Walking Horse News subscriber, sent me a photo of her new colt for the Foal Call page in the August 2005 Walking Horse News. This young fellow really caught my eye – he seemed to have that ‘presence’ that all the really good horses have. But the last thing we needed was another stallion…
Jean was calling him Sky Tramp, but in my mind he was always Jesse Jr. after his mother, JESSIE DEE. His sire was NORTHFORK SKY WALKER, a stallion I had admired for many years. Bred by Jack Gurnett of Northfork Farm in Alberta, this tremendously versatile and good-natured stallion seemed the epitome of the old-time Walking Horses we’d all read about. Jean and her daughters, although they’d never handled a stallion, had bought Northfork Sky Walker (immediately nicknamed ‘Luke’, of course) as a two year old herd sire prospect. They started and trained him themselves, and Luke did it all, from competitive trail to parades to herding cattle, as well as fulfilling the stallion duties on their Rocky Slopes Farm. Jean said, years later, that he never caused her any problems in any of these situations
Another thing that drew me to Jesse Jr. was that my husband and I had owned the colt’s grandsire, HE’ZA WALKER. I regretted that we had not kept any of his bloodlines in our herd. We’d purchased this Montana bred stallion but only had him for about five years when he was injured and had to be put down at age 17. He’za’s pedigree read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the Tennessee Walkers of the earliest years, and I remember thinking that it was amazing to find a horse in 1981 that still had Black Allen, Roan Allen, and Hunter’s Allen on his papers. He’za too had been a ranch and family horse, both in Montana and then in Alberta. But what did I need with another stallion? We already had a promising youngster we’d raised from the Trigger Jr. line we’d owned since 1974, and we really had no facilities to keep a second stallion.
That first winter of Jesse’s life, his dam, Jessie Dee, died. His sire, Luke himself, was already 21. Jesse Jr. would be the last of the line. None of Luke’s offspring had been kept as stallions, and I knew his breeder could not keep a second stallion. By spring it was starting to look as if this boy was headed towards a life as an unregistered gelding.
Well, you know what happens to horse people in spring! I was seized with a mad impulse and asked Jean what she wanted for the colt. Jack Gurnett was good enough to go and get him, and then keep him for us, and we registered the colt as Walkien Jesse Skywalker. (Think what a great outcross he’d be for the as yet unborn daughters of our homegrown Trigger Jr. horse! Why, Jesse himself even had a line back to Trigger Jr.!)
Jesse Jr. spent his next two years at Jack’s. He sired two purebred fillies and two partbred colts during this time. Jack Gurnett and Karla Freeman videotaped him for the CRTWH Program For Excellence (PFE), taking him out of the pasture he was in with his ‘girls’ and leading him along the country road beside it. I think it says a lot for his easy-going nature that with that video, Jesse achieved the in-hand Bronze Level. Then in 2008 he went to Bill Roy in BC for saddle training. In January 2012 Jesse was certified with the TWH Heritage Society.
Here is what Bill, as Jesse’s trainer, had to say: “Jesse is easy going and one of the most natural "WALKING" horses I have ever worked with. Wonderful canter, great mind. I also got to do some ground work with one of Jesse’s foals. It learned fast and had the same nature. This is really important to me in a stallion.”
Jesse is a 21st century horse who preserves that link back to what Tennessee Walking Horses used to be famous for – good natured, easy going, all purpose family mounts with a smooth, ground covering walk. Good looking too! I hope he will have the chance to pass this priceless legacy on into the future.
Marjorie writes: She (Uphill Star) was born on a drizzly, damp morning and I worried about her getting chilled. I was worrying away, wondering if I should try to find a place to put them under a roof (No barn here) and my husband finally said, “Oh for goodness sake, she won’t melt – she’s not a sugarlump!” Then he wanted a “plain horse name – like Star” so she was registered as Uphill Star – and guess what name has stuck all these years? Sugarlump, of course!
Northern Foundations Farm is proud to have Jesse here in 2017!!! We are looking forward to his foals! Thank you, Marjorie Lacy, for the lovely write up about Jesse and for the photos!
Left: Jesse after transporter dropped him off at Lynn Hazen's place before we came back to Wisconsin
Right: Karla with Jesse in Canada
"Sugarlump" all grown up!!! She kept that lovely color!
One of Jesse's foals: Uphill Star as a two week old on the left. Right photo is Star as a four month old - her color changed!!
Jesse's grand sire, He'Za Walker with Joanne Gurnett on board
Bill Roy's grandsons with Jesse Bill and his dog bring Jesse up from the pasture
Jesse as a youngster
Jesse keeping a vigilant eye on the mares in the pasture next to his.