Kevin Dukes was in the cart of Al Wayz On Your Mind for owner, Gerri Leigh Pratt, in Junior Pleasure Driving at the 2018 AQHA World Show. The 17.3 hand, bay stunner is by Allocate Your Assets and certainly takes after his father in looks, movement, and size.
Nicknamed “Willie Nelson,” this gentle giant is only four years old. Gerri Leigh purchased the gelding in January of this year and has since shown him in Amateur Hunter Under Saddle classes at shows in California, Nebraska, and New Mexico. She even qualified to compete in Amateur Hunter Under Saddle here at the show, but only time will tell if she will ride in the class. “We will wait and see how the Junior Hunter Under Saddle finals go first,” Gerri Leigh laughs.
To bring Gerri Leigh back to the show pen, after a 30-year absence, it’s clear that Willie Nelson is one very special creature indeed. Serendipitously, both Gerri Leigh and Kevin were thinking of exactly the same horse, when it came time to look for a prospect.
“It’s kind of a funny story,” Gerri Leigh says. “I saw him first. I wanted to buy him as a two-year-old, and they wouldn’t sell him.”
“Gerri Leigh called me and said that she had a friend who might want to do Pleasure Driving, but she would want the best horse around. I said that there’s only one I know of,” Kevin says.
“He said that it was the best one that he’d ever seen and that Katy Jo Zuidema had it,” Gerri Leigh says. “He said it was big, bay, and he said its name. I said, ‘For Pete’s sake! I’ve been trying to buy that horse for years!’ Well, my friend didn’t end up buying him, because he was a gelding, so I bought him.”
Now that Willie Nelson has added Pleasure Driving to his repertoire of skills, Kevin and Gerri Leigh are looking at adding other English events in the future. Kevin also hopes to get Gerri Leigh back in the cart.
“I used to drive and that was enough,” Gerri Leigh says.
“It’s still not over. We have this banter back and forth that I will get her back into it!” Kevin laughs.
Now that the class has concluded, Willie Nelson is headed back to the stalls for his favorite treat, a Coors Light. “He does love Coors Light,” Gerri Leigh confesses. “Kevin has a stash for him. He gets his celebration.”
Whatever Willie wants, Willie gets, according to Kevin. “To me, he’s a freak. Not many horses like him come along. He’s got a huge presence about him. He’s an exotic mover when he trots. He’s got a lot of expression. A good attitude, with Pleasure Driving, is first and foremost with me. Remember when CC Surprise was a big horse for years? To me, this is the next big one.”
The Reserve Champion was Chuck Briggs with Blue Kaluha. Third was Lee Paul Shinn with Metallic Iron. Fourth was Alice Holmes with Hoo Got The Blues. Fifth was Travis McColley with Al Get Your Shine On.