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Jack Gurnett

I would like to nominate JACK GURNETT, NORTHFORK FARM, BLUFFTON, AB and his gelding, NORTHFORK SUNDANCER #760 (Honey Boy’s Rebel -360- x Northfork Patricia –180-) as Century Partners. Jack and Sundancer have competed at many Festivals of the Gaits (see above) and only last year (2010) went on a week long pack trip in the mountains west of their home. Jack was 83 and Sundancer 21. Theirs is a long standing partnership. Sundancer is a product of Jack’s Northfork breeding program, and his bright sorrel sabino colouring is a legacy from his maternal granddam, Jack’s foundation mare, MERRY BOY’S SNOW BIRD -170-.Jack became a member of CRTWH almost as soon as it was organized, and has been a strong and loyal supporter. He has served on the Board and as President. He has registered his TWH exclusively Canadian now for many years. Marjorie Lacy
JACK’S STORY – HOW I GOT STARTED WITH WALKERS.A television program for children from many years past began with the phrase “Long ago and far away…”. That aptly describes my introduction to life and to horses!My mother sometimes told of an experience with me as a toddler on the farm in East Central Alberta. She had taken me with her to work in the garden. Having taken her eyes off me for about five seconds, she looked up to see me in the barnyard amongst the draft horses. Mom always gave me credit for doing a good job of checking feet and legs at such an early age. (Horses of course.)
Because transportation in those ‘long ago’ days almost always involved horses, either ridden or driven, we soon learned the importance of good care and treatment of our horses. Walking was not an attractive option, so that was only chosen when there was no other way to get from Point A to Point B.The need to attend the Halls of Learning (specifically, a one room school) involved the use of a big 15:2 hh Thoroughbred/cayuse cross gelding with a trot that could shake your teeth loose! Riding double with my older brother (with me behind the saddle), it was “Please, Bill, let’s make old Cap go at a walk or a lope?”

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, my employment in the City of Calgary required travel in the west-southwest area of the city. Occasionally in the general area of what I think is now Edworthy Park, I would see a small band of horses. They seemed different in “way of going” to the horses I had been cowboying with, but not until years later did I learn that they were Tennessee Walking Horses. Much later it was my pleasure to meet a member of the Edworthy family who’d owned some of those first Walking Horses in Alberta.

In the late 1960’s a family friend and fellow horseman, Arne Hauge, began importing a few Tennessee Walkers from the Northwestern United States. While riding some of these horses for Arne I was impressed with their good nature and comfortable gait. The outcome of this experience was a share agreement with Arne on a 15 hh sorrel mare with a great running walk and a calm disposition. She was purchased from Delbert Howell of Polson, Montana, and her name was Merry Boy’s Snow Bird #6510793. When the Canadian Registry was formed she was entered as number 170. We purchased her from Arne at the conclusion of our share agreement in 1979, and she remained with us as a broodmare and occasional riding horse for the rest of her life.

(Left, Snow Bird with colt, Northfork Dan D, by He’za Walker.)In February of 1975 we moved to the Bluffton, AB area we now live in, and of course, brought our horses, which included the obviously in-foal mare. It was our daughter, Karen’s, chore to feed the mare before going to school, and one May morning she came rushing into the house to announce, “Jeepers, Dad! Snowbird has a baby!”
Over the years the stallion responsibilities at Northfork Farm have been shared by other good horses. There have been a succession of them, such as He’za Walker #158 (above, with Jack riding) Rebel Knight H. #711868, Northfork Canadian #181, Honey Boy’s Rebel #360, Darkie’s Last Chance #1118, Northfork Peppi Longsox #1765, Northfork Blue Chip #2835 & Shadow’s Jack Diamond #313, who was with us for ten years.
And now Northfork Top Traveller #2613, a black son of Chapie’s Topper #262 and a grandson of He’za Walker #158, is in the stallion paddock. (right)
Some years ago our daughter Joanne and her husband, Miles Stern, started a mountain outfitting business in the Chimney Creek area. Margaret and I supplied some of the horses and went along to help cook and wrangle. They have now discontinued this business but still have a good string of Walkers for hunting and family pack trips. Another daughter, Susan Banks, bought a TWH mare and now has some good riding stock.. She and Tom live near Okotoks, south of Calgary, and recently rode in to Costco to do a bit of shopping!
It has been said that “Time and Tide wait for no man”. As I look back at the many horses we have raised and all of the people I have come to call friends and good acquaintances, it’s a great feeling. There has been a rare exception or two, of course – like the time a couple of years ago when a young horse bucked me off in front of my cowboy friends – very embarrassing!Thanks to my loving and patient wife, Margaret, and to my supportive family, I have enjoyed rides in beautiful mountain country that would have been impossible without our Walking Horses. Special mention goes to Northfork Dan D. (right) who carried me whenever and where ever I asked him to go for 18 years.Now Northfork Sundancer at 22 years is capably doing the job. (See Jack & Sundancer on a mountain trip below.) And there is a successor in training!

Above: Jack on Dan D. and Joanne on Northfork
Graduate, return to camp in the rain

‘Father Time’ and ‘Mother Nature’ (with Margaret’s endorsement) are strongly suggesting a reduction in horse numbers at Northfork Farm.
And when the temperature dips to minus 20 C and the wind is blowing, I too think it’s a good plan.Remember – You Can Ride with Comfort and Pride on a Tennessee Walking Horse – and they don’t trot! Regards,
Jack