Montana Cutting Horse Association – Member spotlight
A native Montanan, Wylie Galt Gustafson was born and raised in Conrad, Montana on his families cattle and horse ranch. Wylie’s father is a ranch veterinarian and Wylie grew up enjoying the unique rural lifestyle of northern Montana. The Gustafson ranch has a long history including a rich “horse” history. In 1939, Wylie’s father, Rib Gustafson, along with his older brother Duke Gustafson, made the trip to Marfa, TX and picked up some quarter horse type breeding stock to bring back to Montana. Keep in mind, the AQHA was in it’s infancy, as it was officially organized in 1940 in Fort Worth, TX .
Duke owned the sale yard in Havre, MT during the 1940’s and 50’s, and owned and bred many of the Cadillacs of the roping and rodeo horses of his era. He bought and sold many horses through the sale yard and private treaty.
Rib was a partner in their horse business and also started a breeding program about the same time.
Montana cutter and Conrad native Pat Wyse purchased his very first performance horse from Rib and his program. Also, local horsemen John Balkenbush started with Gustafson bred horses from the program.
Back to Wylie, in the early 80’s, Wylie attended University of Montana in Missoula where he pursued his music career. In 1981, Wylie and his older brother, Eric, won the Montana “Battle of the Bands” and Wylie became fully focused on a career in music. After six years playing the northwest club circuit with the band “The Talk”, Wylie moved to Los Angeles to pursue a national recording contract. While in LA in 1992, Wylie flew a film crew to his family ranch in Montana where they filmed Wylie’s first country music video which became a huge success on CMT and TNN.
Wylie was based out of Nashville and after pursuing his music career for over ten years, with 200 or more days on the road annually, he longed for the simple lifestyle that he had left behind in the West.
In 1995, Wylie and his then-wife, Kimberley, moved back to Kimberley’s family ranch in eastern Washington where her aunt, Marlene Dreger, was a cutting enthusiast. Marlene introduced the Gustafson’s to the sport of cutting. They both have been hooked ever since.
For four years, Wylie did his time as turnback help and driver for Kimberley on the Washington club cutting circuit, and was an avid team roper.
In 1999, Wylie attended the John Scott Dispersion Sale in Billings, MT where he purchased the yearling “Irish Whiskey Sugar” to develop as a head horse. When he returned home to Washington, Kimberley looked at his registration papers and informed him that he did not purchase a “rope” horse, but a “cutting” horse.
After consideration on what to do next, they decided to send his horse for cutting training to Bill Speight near Red Deer, Alberta .
“Whiskey” finished his fall futurities with Bill and then came home to Wylie in Washington state.
Both green, Wylie and his horse, started competing in club cuttings and attending every and any cutting clinic that was produced in the northwest. Clinicians included Lindy Burch, Chubby Turner, and Paul Hansma. Wylie enlisted the expertise of local trainer John Paul to help finish Whiskey’s Derby year campaign. In the fall of 2002 they won the Dave Withnall Memorial Non-Pro Derby in Vernon, BC..
Wylie said the biggest thing that Whiskey has given to him is confidence. “I used to think I was a good horseman until I came to the full realization that it was Whiskey’s brilliance who was making up for my deficiencies as a green rider and making me look somewhat competent!”
Wylie began his first NCHA cutting year in 2003 riding Whiskey in the Washington State Cutting Club.
The duo was extremely successful in all the classes they competed in and eventually rode up through the ranks.
In 2005, Wylie and Whiskey earned a hard to come by NCHA Western National’s Championship in Ogden, UT in the $20,000 Non Pro. Wylie also has two Open top ten buckles and two Reserve Championship Non-Pro buckles from Western Nationals aboard his great gelding.
Since then, this duo won many more association titles in the Northwest and Wylie rode out of the Amateur classes (earnings in excess of $100,000) in 2007.
After a divorce from Kimblerley, Wylie moved his horse business “Cross Three Quarter Horses” back to his home turf in Conrad, MT in 2009. After a 3 year hiatus in cutting Wylie joined the MCHA in 2012. Aboard his old-time hard knocker Whiskey they won the MCHA 2012 Non-Pro Championship and will accept the 2013 MCHA Non-Pro Championship in March.
Wylie owns the dam of “Whiskey” and two shares of his sire “Paddy’s Irish Whiskey” who stands at the 6666 Ranch in Texas. Wylie has raised and trained “Whiskey’s” full brother “Captain Beefheart” who earned Region 1 NCHA Non-Pro Derby Champion year-end award from the NCHA. In 2013, Wylie showed the 5 yr full sister “Whiskeeta” who was third in the $5 Novice Non-pro year-end for Montana. Wylie’s breeding program focuses on larger sized performance horses that can cut, rope and be useful and durable mounts on the northern ranges. All of his cutting horses are taught how to handle a 1200 lb. cow on the end of a rope. Getting out of the pen and onto the range to see how the “other side” lives is an important part of Wylie’s training program.
This year, Wylie plans to campaigning his 16HH colt “Hiline Pepto” (One Time Pepto X Selana Starlight) in the northern futurities. For more information on Wylie, his music, and his horses, you can find him on FB at www.facebook.com/wylie.gustafson and www.wyliewebsite.com or www.crossthreequarterhorses.com
CLICK HERE to view “Wylie and the Wild West Quick Facts“.