Wilsons are 2/2 After “Honkey Tonk” Tops The Horse Sale at Rancho Rio for $160K
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Brooke Wilson heads on TRR Kadabra Kat, "Honkey Tonk," ahead of the 2023 Horse Sale at Rancho Rio. Courtesy Rancho Rio/Jamie Arviso

Canyon, Texas’ Brooke and Rodey Wilson, of Wilson Cattle Co., quickly sold their 8-year-old red roan gelding TRR Kadabra Kat, known as Honkey Tonk, with the drop of the gavel from renowned auctioneer Steve Friskup, on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at $160,000—making him the high-seller of The Horse Sale at Rancho Rio, presented by Gold Buckle Beer.

This sale makes for the Wilsons’ second highest selling horse of their careers. Their top seller was at this very sale in 2022, when they sold Sportin Roscoe, better known as South Point, for $200,000.

“I was nervous,” Brooke said. “I knew we would get to over $100,000 just by the way people were talking, but I didn’t know where we would end up.”

The lucky buyer was Javier Rodriguez, of Las Vegas, Nevada, who hopped online through Superior Livestock Auction and jumped in on the bid at $50,000.

“I wasn’t even planning on purchasing a high-selling horse,” said Rodriguez, who works for family business Desert Plastering. “We were just on the phone bidding. I wasn’t planning on spending that much but, at this point, I’m pretty excited that we did. We had an idea, and I went way past it.”

Who is Honkey Tonk

The Wilsons purchased “Honkey Tonk”—by Cats Hillbilly out of TRR Acres of Grass—from Texas’ Tongue River Ranch as a 3-year-old. He sports the Tongue River Ranch’s Crooked T brand on his left hip, signifying the gelding was bred on the ranch.

Honkey Tonk’s yearling debut. Courtesy Wilson Cattle Co.

“Those ranch horses that carry those brands mean something to us,” said Brooke, an environmental consultant in the oilfield when she’s not ranching or roping. “It’s kind of a pride deal that we like to showcase. It’s not just a new fad; it’s horses that have been through the program.”

Now standing at 15 hands and weighing 1,315 pounds, Honkey Tonk didn’t look like much when the Wilsons first set eyes on him as a yearling, but with some convincing from the Tounge River’s previous manager, TJ Roberts, followed by the Wilson’s free-choice alfalfa and Zesterra lick tub program, the horse quickly bulked up to fit the Wilson’s herd.

“That horse was little,” Brooke said. “TJ said, ‘He probably won’t get more than 15 hands tall, but he will be a very heavy-made horse.’ And he is all there. Those guys just know what these horses will turn out to be just because they’ve rode the same linage for so long.”

On the Selling Side

“The day we get them they go on all of the alfalfa that they can eat and that’s it,” Rodey added. “There’s no secret to it. We feed straight alfalfa and sometimes we keep them on Zesterra lick tubs. We hardly ever grain them. We worm them two or three times a year and that’s it.”

Brooke and Rodey Wilson of Texas’ Wilson Cattle Co. and TRR Kadabra Kat, “Honkey Tonk,” who sold for $160,000. It was a repeat for the couple that consigned last year’s high-seller, too.

Like all horses in the Wilson program, Brooke and Rodey both ranched on Honky Tonk and started him on the heel side.

“We heel on them until they get solid in the box and then move to the head side,” Rodey said. “The very first time I roped on him I said, ‘In four days, I’ll have him ready to go to a jackpot.’”

Though Rodey was kidding about the timeline, the couple was impressed enough with the young gelding’s talent to put him on heeler Casey McCleskey’s trailer for the pair’s rookie ProRodeo season in 2021.

“The horse was 6 years old and everyone is out there on a good one while Casey is seasoning a young one as well as trying to win,” Brooke said.

“I took him to one jackpot, and I think we won it, then I took him to [his first] ProRodeo in Lubbock (Texas) and we went 4 seconds there,” McCleskey said. “He did everything and never got stirred up. We were up at Spanish Fork (Utah) and went 4-something there and, then, we drove straight to Cheyenne, and I jackpotted on him the next day and then rodeoed on him. He was a warrior.”

McClesky brought the horse back to the Wilsons shortly after Cheyenne Frontier Days and, the next weekend, Rodey qualified for the Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale on Honkey Tonk, which made for Rodey’s last ride on the roan.

“I told Brooke that she ought to start heading on him,” Rodey said.

Since 2021, Honkey Tonk has been one of Brooke’s main head horses. He has taken her to the pay window at NTR ropings, Ariat WSTR qualifiers and local jackpots.

Becoming the Buyer

While Honkey Tonk’s flashy looks and big moves are a bonus, it was his his easy-going, baby-sitting demeanor that allowed the expectant mother to ride and rope through her second trimester on the gelding.

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Trey and J.D. Yates.

“That horse from day one has been good,” Brooke said. “I wish I had 100 more like him. I really feel like, if he got in a bind, he would hurt himself trying to keep me from getting hurt. That’s just the kind of horse he is.”

“When I was talking to [Brooke], she was actually roping on him at a jackpot,” Rodriguez said about a brief phone call he had with Brooke prior to sale day. “She told me that she’s six months pregnant and trusts that horse with her life and is still roping on him. I thought that spoke volumes in the caliber of horse that he is.”

What appealed to Rodriguez, whose main mount has been down with an injury, was that Honkey Tonk was flashy and solid for him to take to the jackpots. The horse would also be safe enough for his two sons, Javier (7) and Ryland (5), to ride and grow into for junior rodeos.

“I knew I wanted a horse from the Wilsons, just from their reputation,” he said. “When they posted the consignments, I went through there and I came across that red roan. He looked like what we were looking for in the videos. Brooke assured me that she’s had kids rope on him and ride him and he’s safe on the ground.

“This is my first time purchasing a horse from them and so far they have been top notch,” Rodrigues continued. “They answer the phone; they’ve answered all the questions that I have perfectly. They’ve been so helpful.”

That the Wilsons will continue to share their insights on the horse—even after the horse has left their barn—really made the over-the-phone, sight-unseen purchase more comfortable for Rodriguez.

“I think it’s going to be a good fit,” Brooke said. “The thing that I was really impressed with was, he said, ‘I’m going to take my time. I’m going to get with him.’ That means so much to us because people who buy these horses think they can take them and rope on them the next day and it doesn’t work like it. They need to put in the time at home to get with them.”

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