By Megan Sacia Ulrich
With a combined 62 years of experience in the horse industry, more achievements and awards than a person can count, and many cherished memories, Mark Jensen and Keith McDonough closed the doors of Palm Desert Quarter Horses following the 2021 NSBA World Show.
The difficult decision was part of a long-term plan that was born in 2016 when the pair moved to Palm Springs from Washington state where they had owned Willow Creek Farm–their first business together–since 2000.
“Our original plan after moving to the desert in 2016 was to keep our business going until our youth girls were in college and our older Select riders decided to stop riding. But, we’ve had a couple circumstances come up that have had us refocus our lives on our family,” Mark explains. “We need to put our family first. As our parents age, we see that we need to spend more time together. The same is true about our son, Jayden, who doesn’t really enjoy the horses. There’s nothing more important to us than raising our son and making sure our parents know that they have us with them.”
Palm Desert Quarter Horses was a steppingstone toward the greener pastures of eventual retirement. When they opened the facility, Keith had recently retired from his 20-year career with the police department, and he and Mark were looking to be more centrally located for easier travel to bigger shows. “You can’t beat the Palm Springs area with eight or nine perfect months to play over 120 nearby golf courses!” Mark says.
Though they won’t be spending as much time in the saddle in the next few years, both Mark and Keith will continue to keep a hand in their favorite parts of the horse industry. Keith is a carded judge with APHA, ApHC, and NSBA. He will continue judging, because it’s one of his favorite pastimes. Mark toys with the idea of coming back to the show pen as a Non-Pro in a few years with a focus on futurity Western Pleasure horses, where his true passion lies.