2015 Pioneer Horseman Award Recipient Reed Kettlewell

Reed Kettlewell
July 30, 1938 – July 4, 1986

Reed Kettlewell grew up in the city of Minneapolis. He used every persuasive measures and a four-year campaign to get a horse. Finally, he convinced his parents, Homer and Gertrude Kettlewell, to buy a horse of his own. That horse was a mare named Santa Anna. Reed attended Breck School, partly because it had a riding curriculum along with the scholastics. A couple years later Reed saw a movie titled, Arabians in the Rockies, actually saw it twice, and then dreamed and hoped for an Arab. He bought a two-month old colt from pictures, with help from his grandmother. That colt's sire and grandsire were stars in that film. Minneapolis Star journal columnist George Grim even wrote about it.

 Reed boarded his horses at Oak Lane Stables located in Minneapolis at 60th and Morgan Ave. S. It was there that he met Barbara Abbott, another city kid smitten by horses, Quarter Horses to be exact. It wasn't long before their fondness for horses turned into fondness for each other. With a love for each other and a passion for horses, they married in 1950 after Reed graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Animal Husbandry. In that same year, they bought a farm located between Osseo and Champlin.

 The ranch was 200 acres and they began with a herd of range wild Angus cows, some hogs and their horses. Barbara had a Quarter Horse stallion named Palomigo Don and several well-bred Quarter Horse mares. Reed had a Thoroughbred mare named Santa Anna. The ranch was first called Red Steer Ranch, but became Sunup Ranch by the mid-1950s.

 In 1952, Barbara bought a weanling stallion she named George Paul, sight unseen from the Nicholson Ranch in Oklahoma. Reed then found a stallion in Montana sired by Rey Del Rancho, who was bred by the King Ranch. Those early stallions and the mares they had acquired set Reed and Barbara on a course to become Minnesota's oldest and largest Quarter Horse breeder. By the late 1950s and 1960s, interest in Quarter Horses was booming and many in Minnesota sought Reed and Barbara out to purchase their first Quarter Horse. Reed generously offered much time and advice to first-time or seasoned hose owners. Many of Sunup's customers became lifetime horse owners. Reed infused people with enthusiasm for the Quarter Horse. In fact, if you peruse the pages of the State Fair premium books almost every halter class had a George Paul-sired horse, with some classes having up to five or six horses sired by George Paul through the 1960s.

 Reed had a keen sense of horse character, type and conformation. He was a true student of the horse. That acquired knowledge led him to want to become a judge. He had a real passion and gift for analyzing a group of horses, or riders. In 1964 he acquired his AQHA judge's card. He went on to be an APHA judge, WSCA judge, 4H judge. The judging credential he likely appreciated most was his 4H card. There was nothing more rewarding to him than to be able to address a class of young 4Hers about their horses and their showmanship with that horse. He thought there was nothing more important than reaching each of them with words of encouragement along with instructive advice. He would spend whatever time it took to insure that each exhibitor left the arena feeling they receive attention from the judge whether they were at the top or the bottom of the class.  Reed's sense of fairness became one of his trademarks as a judge. One of the most common refrains from exhibitors who showed under him was that they always felt they had a fair look and that favoritism or politics never entered into his appraisal of a class.

 Reed's judging, which took him across the country, allowed him to see many many Quarter Horses. In the mid-1960s, a young horse named Two Eyed Jack was gaining attention. On several occasions, Reed had the horse in shows he was judging, first as a two-year-old and subsequently as an older hose. At the time he first judged the horse, he predicted that horse would go on to become great. History now holds Two Eyed Jack as the all-time leading sire of AQHA Champions. With foresight and the need to bring in a new outcross stallion, Reed and Barbara selected young prospects out of the pastures on the Pitzer Ranch in 1968. They were the first in Minnesota to bring in Two Eyed Jack stallions. Those stallions were crossed on daughters of George Paul and Tee Bar Hitone. Sunup Ranch had three sons of Two Eyed Jack. They all were outstanding sires, with get accruing AQHA records and their get were sold all over the nation and abroad.

 That insight to identify horses destined to become among AQHA's most noted sires or dams allowed Reed to bring in young prospects from horses who he predicted would rise to the very top as sires. That foresight and judgment led Reed and Barbara to bring in the first Zan Parr Bar stallions to the state in the early 1980s. Those sires proved to be an excellent cross on the Two Eyed Jack/George Paul-bred daughters. Today, Sunup Ranch continues that tradition of bringing in out-cross stallions to breed to the seed-stock of mares whose pedigrees reflect Sunup's historic breeding program.

 All through Reed's life, the ranch was often abuzz with visitors and customers. Coffee and conversation filled the kitchen. There was lots of horse talk. Many people sought Reed out for advice. He dispensed it generously. Folks were comfortable just dropping in or calling. That atmosphere was fostered at the ranch by both Reed and Barbara who took a great deal of interest in people and their horses and were keenly interested in helping people with their horses.

 Sunup Ranch showed their Quarter Horses at the State Fair for 53 consecutive years. Through the 1960s and 1970s, not only did Reed and Barbara prep their own horses for the fair, many of their customers would bring their horses to the ranch to get help with prepping theirs. Barbara often would apply her clipping skills and Reed would help them with how best to show their horse. It was almost a party atmosphere. The horses connected Reed and Barbara to many people across Minnesota and across the country. Most rewarding was how deep their friendships were even across miles or oceans.

 Not only did Reed know his horses, he knew horse husbandry. He had accumulated a great deal of knowledge, practical and medical, about the care of horses. After college, he continued his study of equine medicine on this own. He kept himself schooled on current veterinary academics, keeping a library of veterinary school texts. Equine vets seeking practical advice on cases they were dealing with often consulted him. For a period of time, Reed operated a small veterinary supply business. Not only were visitor seeking out Reed, they sought out Barbara for her knowledge as well. Their marriage was really a partnership that guided Sunup Ranch's breeding program. They each brought skills and talent to the horse business that complemented each other.

 Reed served in many capacities, including in the formative year, with the Minnesota Quarter Horse Association serving in capacities that included chair of the state show, vice president of the association, and board member. He was also very involved with the Silver Buckle Saddle Club and taught community education and college courses in equine studies. In 2005, he was inducted into the MQHA Hall of Fame.

 In 1986, Reed died while running a 10K race. He had taken up running after suffering a heart attack in 1983. Barbara was determined to keep Sunup Ranch going. Her determination and strength kept Sunup alive. She was joined by her daughters, Vickie and Jennie and son-in-law Greg Booth. Today, Barbara, 90, lives on the ranch. Vickie Kettlewell and Greg Booth now operate and manage the ranch, every mindful of Reed's wisdom and wishes.

 The family of Reed Kettlewell wishes to thank the Minnesota Horse Council for recognizing Reed with this award. It is so gratifying to us to know the merits this award is meant to recognize and appreciate. We thank you deeply and hope Reed's convictions and love of horses inspire others.


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