“Three cowgirls with long braided blonde pigtails ordered around by a handsome teenage cowboy wearing shades riding a bay horse. Ample sideline coaching from a more mature blonde cowgirl on a palomino and a visibly hardworking farmer-rancher in bib overalls.”
Obviously, it’s a Keesecker ranch family affair where everybody has their own unique niche at the horseshow.
Bill and Quincie Keesecker with their twins Witt and Rowley, plus Kyah and Cooper are popular Washington County diligent workers.
“Living in a small town like Washington means you are often involved in everything,” Quincie admitted.
Bill grew up in a Washington County farming-ranching family, while Quincie was a “wannabe farm kid” in nearby Clay Center.
“Bill had horses and competed in 4-H, FFA, and rural school activities with his family as a youth,” Quincie said. “I always loved animals and my parents finally agreed to horse lessons when I was in junior high. I was hooked.”
Highlight of Quincie’s youthful years was being crowned the Clay Center Rodeo Queen. “I befriended everyone with horses and took every opportunity to ride,” she said. “I first went to Colby Community College and was on both the equestrian team and livestock judging team.”
Bill was on the Kansas State University rodeo team. “He trained young horses and became instilled with a love for reining on his favorite horse named Babe,” Quincie said.
The couple both graduated with degrees in animal science from Kansas State University and were married in 2005. They moved to their Washington County farm home as the fifth generation of Bill’s family to live on the land.
“We worked to fill the family feed yard,” Quincie said. “As the cattle came so did Quarter Horses to work on the ranch and in horseshows. Mares and baby colts were soon filtering through the pens too.”
Serving as 4-H horse leaders, the couple worked with their niece Lauren riding horses through junior and senior high school.
Witt and Rowley were born in 2009. “They were riding and traveling to horse shows before they could walk,” Mom said. “The Eastern Kansas Horseman’s Association (EKHA) helped build their confidence while riding in the six-and-under timed events.”
The twins joined the Farmington 4-H Club when they were seven years old. “Both enjoy showing horses and livestock,” Mom said. “As seventh graders, they are excited to start competing in junior high school sports.”
Witt rides a Quarter Horse called Doc. “They excel in the trail and horsemanship classes, and Witt has been working on building his roping skills,” Mom noted.
Rowley rides Porscha, a home-raised palomino registered Quarter Horse mare. “These two blond ladies are a tremendous team and love the ranch rail and pattern classes. Their goal is to be competitive in reining next year,” Quincie commented.
Kyah, eight, is a third grader and a 4-H member too. Riding her “sassy” Quarter Pony gelding Bailee everywhere, the pair is the “perfect match for determined personality.”
Loving all kinds of animals, Kyah already has her mind set to become a veterinarian. “She has a tribe of friends of every age, loving people just as much as dogs and horses,” Mom said.
Cooper, five, just started kindergarten. Riding her retired team roping heeling horse Jack, Cooper goes everywhere at a trot.
“She is so proud to ride her own horse and Jack loves Cooper as much as she loves him. They ride all over the yard and are working on the horseshow race patterns” Quincie said. “Small but mighty, Cooper has a magical imagination and a very creative soul.”
At the recent EKHA state show in Washington, Rowley was crowned EKHA Queen; Witt, EKHA King; and Kyah, EKHA Princess.
Diversely educated in nursing, Quincie works at Centerpointe Physicians as a nurse practitioner, yet keeps up with her family and agriculture operations.
Both Bill and Quincie serve a number of community leadership roles. “We continue as 4-H leaders and assist in activities of the Washington Saddle Club. We both help coordinate and run the Washington EKHA shows,” Quincie said. “Bill is on the Washington County Fair Board and part of the church leadership team.”
Despite the long days and economic hardships involved in production agriculture, Bill and Quincie both believe in the legacy.
“Bill’s ancestors purchased the ground from the first homesteaders,” Quincie said. “Crops and beef cattle have kept the place going for more than 100 years.”
Though not easy, the couple believes in raising their children on the ranch. “We intend to show the next generation the importance of tradition and perseverance with attention to innovation,” Quincie said. “We’re always looking for ways to diversify and be more efficient.”
Future of the horse industry lies with their children too, the Keesecker couple insists. “We want to teach them not only how to ride, but also to train, show, and raise horses,” Quincie said. “We want them to be stewards of the horse industry by sharing their horses and knowledge whenever possible.”
Horses instill in youth a special kind of work ethic, according to Bill and Quincy. “One that takes daily care, training, constant growth, practice, and perseverance all in preparation for that perfect ride,” Quincie said. “Maybe they won’t win the class or the rodeo, but the partnership they created with that animal will never be forgotten.”
The journey is as important as the final result, the Keeseckers parents contend. “It keeps them coming back, putting their foot back in the stirrup even after they fall,” Quincie said. “Hopefully, lessons learned from horses will help them be successful in whatever they choose and keep coming back to horses and agriculture.”
Horses are truly a family activity for Witt, Bill, Rowley, Quincie, Cooper and Kyah Keesecker, a generational Washington County ranch family. (Photo from the Keesecker family.
Children of Bill and Quincie Keesecker at Washington are enthusiastic horseback riders. Shown top left through bottom right are Rowley, Witt, Kyah, and Cooper. (Keesecker family photos collage)