A well-run barn is the key to any smooth operation. Whether you have one or 50 horses in your care, it’s crucial that you have an organized space, know where everything is and are able to act in any kind of emergency.
Kellee Clarke has been the barn manager for Slate River for nine years and counting. She makes sure everything has its place, and most importantly gets put back in place. Her feed room, vet room, tack room and stalls are clearly labeled so almost anyone can walk in and know just what to do for any of the horses.
After a childhood spent in the saddle showing in western pleasure, English and cutting, John Mitchell decided early on that dropping the reins was the sport for him.
Originally from Australia, Mitchell began riding horses for Winderadeen, a large quarter horse breeder in New South Wales.
Afterwards, Mitchell went to work for well known trainer Graham Amos to learn how to train cutting horses. Along the way, many others have had a hand in helping develop him into the trainer he is today.
Mitchell came to the States for the first time at 14 years old and celebrated his 15th birthday there.
Bob Acre Doc and Sam Wilson – Photo Credit: RD Video
We love legends! None more so than the cutting horse kind. One of the foundational aspects of the sport is its historical champions.
The stallion Bob Acre Doc wasn’t supposed to be a champion. In fact, he wasn’t even bred with high expectations of becoming a prestigious title holder.
The mare he was out of didn’t have a long list of accomplishments. Sapps Sandy wasn’t even a cutting mare. E.R. Broussard (also known as Bobbie), of Louisiana, bought the mare as a ranch horse. It wasn’t until the mare was 16, when Broussard decided it was time to breed her.
Broussard wasn’t known for breeding horses. It was a venture he and his son Robbie
Bob Acre Doc After Retirement – Photo Credit: RD Video
set out on as he and his wife got older. They decided to breed Sapps Sandy to Son Of A Doc. Sam Wilson of Pattinson, Texas who trained Bob Doc Acre said Broussard didn’t really have any reasoning for the choice of stallion. With Son Of A Doc being one of the top ranked cutting sires at the time, it turned out to be one of the best, and luckiest decisions the family ever made.
On March 1st, 1981, Bob Acre Doc was born. Not long after, Sappy San passed away leaving the new foal an orphan. Wilson said the Broussards raised him up in the backyard where he would eat off the table as if he was part of the family.
Due to his rough start in life, many people were unsure if “Bob” would make anything of himself. It was only fitting for him to go into training with Wilson, who owned, raised, and trained his father, Son Of A Doc. The Broussards believed if anyone could make something out of Bob, it would be Wilson. According to Wilson, the world was
Susan Cardwell and Bob Acre Doc – Photo Credit: RD Video
still a little wary of Bob’s potential to become a great cutting horse.
Wilson never doubted that Bob Acre Doc had the ability to be something special since he was a son of one of his all-time favorites.
“That horse thought he was a human,” Wilson said. “I turned him out one time in a pasture with some mares and he just stood there and looked at the gate,” he chuckled.
Bob Acre Doc went on to be a star, as well as a record setter in the NCHA. In 1991, Wilson and Bob showed their way to the top to become the NCHA Open World Champions. It was all history in the making from there.
When asked to describe what Bob was like to haul, Wilson said, “He was great. He never caused any trouble, as long as you treated him right and kept him happy.”
During the year that he hauled, Bob Acre Doc was sold by the Broussard Family to Susan Cardwell. She then hauled him for the Non-Pro World Finals the following year.
Bob Acre Doc went on to win multiple AQHA and NCHA titles. After earning $381,000, his show career ended and he was sold to Slate River Ranch at Weather- ford, TX where he retired. Shortly after that he died at age 20. Wilson said he believed that Bob mourned not having a job and missed his cutting team.
His offspring went on to win over $4.5 million in the NCHA and $30,000+ in the NRHA. One of his own sons, Laker Doc is still standing at EE Ranches. He was born in 1992, and has earned over $183,000 in his show career.
More often than not, lopers come and go, but Kellee Clarke has turned loping into a satisfying career thanks to her hard work, willingness to take on new challenges and interestingly, finding an outlet for her creativity.
An Australian native, Clarke moved to the States to work with horses where for the last eight years she has been loping for John Mitchell at the Slate River Ranch. With a passion for learning and a drive for taking on more responsibility, Clarke juggles loping, running the barn and managing the ranch office while starting up her own business.
“I wanted to make leather handbags and do them all by hand,” Clarke said. “When I grew up rodeoing, I made all my own shirts..so I’ve always had this creative thing going on.”
After purchasing all the materials, Clarke found that she never had the time to actually start.
“One week I got so mad at myself because John’s wife, Hope kept asking, ‘have you made a bag yet?’ and it was really frustrating me,” Clarke said. “So one week I got super mad at myself and I said, ‘you have to finish one project by the end of the week.’’”
And since that week, Brumby Goods was born, but not in the way Clarke expected.
“I had kangaroo leather and lace because they were going to be part of my bags and I had some freshwater pearls and I had all this stuff sitting there,” Clarke said. “So I started tinkering around with it and the next thing I made a necklace with it. This long tassel necklace with these pearls on it and I was like, ‘that’s pretty cool.’”
Although Clarke hasn’t made any bags yet, she intends to expand the line later to include them.
“I had my logo and my name and everything for my business, Brumby Goods, that was all in place but the product wasn’t coming about,” Clarke said. “For now it’s evolved into jewelry.”
Clarke officially launched Brumby Goods in February this year and is keeping up with working full time for Slate River Ranch while building her jewelry line, which has quickly gained a following.
Clarke says she gets design ideas while loping.
“It’s a matter of utilizing that time loping around and to just take that time to think about something,” Clarke said. “I’m constantly thinking about Brumby and what’s next.”
Clarke says she wants to stayed tapped into the western world and cutting/rodeo industry from her roots. One of her main materials, kangaroo leather, is used not only for its durability but connects her to her Australian heritage. Her company name, Brumby Goods also was chosen to tell people more about Clarke as a person.
“Brumby was something that came up..here in America,” Clarke said. “It’s a horse, it’s a little wild, free spirited and…it’s pretty catchy.”
Clarke says she enjoys making the jewelry for women like herself.
“A lot of this stuff I had in mind for the working girl and the girl who rides,” Clarke said. “This was my original idea, to find something feminine but easy to wear.”
Clarke likes to make jewelry that is functional, durable, light and comfortable. She now ships across the country and overseas and also takes custom orders. Clarke initially made sales on social media, but now has her own website to properly display her designs, www.brumbygoods.com.
Although her career is focused on loping, she believes that having Brumby gives her something more to look forward to each day.
“Its given me something for myself,” Clarke said. “I’m accountable, it’s all me. It gives me something, it’s making something and being creative and I like to look at it and be like, ‘I made that.”