American Field

W. C. Kirk Remembered

Aug 03, 2017

I was very sorry to read of the passing of W. C. Kirk (in the July 29 issue).

I had occasionally met Kirk off and on in the late 1960s and early 1970s while attending trials with my father, Dick Reid, but really got to know him the summer of 1975.

I was twenty years old and had been working for Ernest Allen for the past couple of years. In 1975 Ernest had decided to get out of the field trial business but I was not ready to throw in the towel just yet. So Ernest, wanting to help me as much as he could, took me to Bowie, Tex., to visit with Kirk.

[Side note: I refer to him as Kirk because that is how he liked to be called; he disliked being addressed as W. C.]

It was decided that if I came up with a string of my own I could accompany him along with Mary and Cal to his grounds at Consort, Alberta. I came up with the dogs and in early July we made the trek, Kirk and Cal in his big box truck, Mary and me in my pick-up.

I was not pulling a horse trailer because Kirk assured me that he would find me a couple of horses to use while I was there and that I could use one of his at the trials. If any of you have ever heard the stories concerning the quality of Canadian horses back in those days I am here to tell you they are all true. Out of respect to our friends to the North I’ll just leave it at that.

You get to know people fairly well when you live under the same roof with them for two months — Mary, one of the finest, kindest ladies I have ever met, and one helluva cook, and Cal, I believe he was 10-12 years old then, was a polite, hardworking young man. Mary and Kirk were very proud of him and deservedly so.

Kirk, a good friend, a hard worker and not only was he a very knowledgeable dog man but a heck of a horse trainer also.

One thing about him, though; I have never known anyone who could fall asleep as fast as he could. We would be taking a break and talking about that morning’s work or whatever and he would just start snoring mid-sentence, sound asleep. At first I thought I was boring him to death but Mary assured me that that was just Kirk.

To put a cap on this trip down memory lane, it was very educational and memorable but my only trip to the prairies as a professional trainer. Not that I quit the dog business but while I was there Walter Sandifer of King Ranch offered a job to assist him and where I spent the next twenty years.

I’m sure the first thing Kirk did when he arrived at the prairies in the sky was to tell Ernest to turn Boy (Johnny Crockett) lose.

So long, my friend.

Richard T. (Tom) Reid

Leawood, Kan.


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