The Tooke homestead in Redfield, SD

Bessie Basford Tooke with Frank, Fay, Feek and Ted in front

Feek in Chicago at Navy Pier in Chicago when he put on a rodeo in 1948 at the Chicago Stadium.

Feek in Dickinson, North Dakota at the Match Bronc Ride he created.

Alvin Tescher, Doug Linderman, Feek Tooke, Jim Tescher, Bill Linderman and Dean Armstrong. in Dickinson in 1949

Feek with King Larrygo fresh off the rail from Iowa

Feek with his trophy and buckle from the PRCA Hall of Fame induction.

One of Feek's major building blocks of his herds, an Arabian named Snowflake.

Feek in Oklahoma City in 1968 accepting the award for Sheep Mountain.

Tooke horses in 2013 at the Newcastle Matched Bronc Ride

Feek's son Ernest as the Grand Marshall at the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. The event Feek started in 1950

Grand opening of the Dickinson Matched Bronc Ride in 1948 that Feek created.

The history of Feek Tooke and his bucking horses...

Chandler Earl 'Feek' Tooke was born in Redfield, South Dakota on April 12th, 1909 in Redfield, South Dakota to Earl and Bessie Tooke. His parents moved Feek and his 5 brothers; Frank, Fay, Grandville (Red), Dick and Bill, to their homestead 13 miles west of Ekalaka, Montana in 1913.Chandler's nickname, 'Feek', came from an aunt who didn't care for the name Chandler, so she called him Felix. Fay couldn't pronounce Felix, and instead said Feek.

The Tooke brothers were interested in rodeos, so they built an arena at the ranch and held their first rodeo, Memorial Day, 1931. Headed by Feek, the Tooke brothers branched out and produced rodeos in Ekalaka, Baker and Miles City Montana; Belle Fourche and Deadwood South Dakota; Dickinson, Hettinger, and Bowman North Dakota. They leased bucking horses to other rodeo producers, and Tooke Broncs bucked in arenas from Salt Lake City to Chicago and New York's Madison Square Garden.

Feek was a horseman; he broke horses to ride and work, bought sold and traded horses. To his way of thinking any work worth doing should be done with a horse, and he used horses other cowboys couldn't handle. His biggest vision was to breed horses to buck, providing a continous source of rodeo bronc for years to come in the rodeo arena, despite the general consensus from the public that it couldn't be done.

Pat O'Kane, a Powder River ranch foreman, developed a horse breed in the 1920s he thought would have the agility, size, and stamina to stand up to hard riding in the rugged badlands. He crossed a Shire stallion to Thoroughbred mares. The colts grew to be ideal for what Pat had in mind, but they all had a bucking horses mentality and only a handful of cowboys were able to ride Pat's rough string. Feek bought Pat's horses when Pat retired in 1936. No one had raised horses solely to buck in rodeos, but Pat's Shire-Thoroughbred cross was a bucking horse bloodline and Feek's ambition was to create top-of-the-line broncs. There were thousands of bronc prospects available, but he could see a time in the future when the almost endless supply would dry up.

A Shire stallion and mares from east of Ekalaka were purchased from General Marion Sweeney in 1938. A significant building block in Feek's breeding venture was when he bought King Larrygo from Fox Chemical Company, an Iowa Shire farm in 1943. The dark sorel was three years old and weighed a ton, and the blue ribbon winner in Show Class at the Iowa State Fair. King was shipped by rail to Baker, Montana where Feek would take possession of the horse and his vision was starting to take shape. Breeding the large sized King to rank mares would produce stock with size, quickness, and attitude, that you see in horses in today's arenas.

Feek's ambition to see a pasture filled with King's offspring was short lived when a cranky mare kicked the valuable stallion ruining him for stud services. Not before King sired his only colt, the one that would be dubbed 'Rodeo's Bronc Patriarch'. Little did Feek know that this colt would change the face of broncs and the way contractors breed rodeo stock. This dark sorel stood 17 hands and tipped the scales at 1,700 pounds would go by the name Prince. His mother was a Shire with a bad disposition, which Prince inherited. Several contractors claim their studs are the greatest bronc sires of all time, their claims are exaggerated. Prince is without question, the number one bucking horse stallion in rodeo history. From that moment on, the attitude and the 'Tooke' look would live within the arenas all over North America forever.

Feek's ambition to see a pasture filled with King's offspring was short lived when a cranky mare kicked the valuable stallion ruining him for stud services. Not before King sired his only colt, the one that would be dubbed 'Rodeo's Bronc Patriarch'. Little did Feek know that this colt would change the face of broncs and the way contractors breed rodeo stock. This dark sorel stood 17 hands and tipped the scales at 1,700 pounds would go by the name Prince. His mother was a Shire with a bad disposition, which Prince inherited. Several contractors claim their studs are the greatest bronc sires of all time, their claims are exaggerated. Prince is without question, the number one bucking horse stallion in rodeo history. From that moment on, the attitude and the 'Tooke' look would live within the arenas all over North America forever.

Feek has been described by many rodeo historians as 'the Henry Ford of the bucking horse industry", Feek Tooke proved to all skeptics that great bucking horses can be successfully bred and raised.

At the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma December 7th 1968, Feek's vision became reality that night at the Jim Norick Arena at Oklahoma State Fair grounds when Chandler Earl Tooke would ride into the arena to receive the award presenting Sheep Mountain for the Top Saddle Bronc at the NFR, it would be the first bred to buck horse to win a major award. With famous Oklahoman, Clem McSpadden, presenting Feek with a plaque you can tell by the smile on Feek's face in photos at this moment that this was his crowning achievement in rodeo thus far. After this great moment Feek would ride out of the arena and suffered a fatal heart attack while clinching his most prized possession at the young age of 59. This would leave the family business and Tooke legacy to his son Ernest. Shortly after Feek's death Clem was quated as saying "Without Feek Tooke and his broncs, we wouldn't have bucking horses...he was years ahead of his time."

Bucking horse breeding has become a big business across the United State and Canada, and most breeders are using the proven Tooke bloodlines. These bloodlines have produced more than 6,000 bucking horse. Eighty percent of the bucking horses selected for the National Finals Rodeos are related, and most world champion broncs since 1987 shared the same genetics. Erv Korkow (PRCA HOF 2009) was an admirer of the Tooke horses and he would purchses five big mares in the early 70s that foaled with colts from Gray Wolf and Timberline to begin his breeding program. Calgary Stampede (HOF 2008) used General Custer's son Gray Wolf and her sired 33 colts in the mid 70s which would results in Grated Coconut, Bareback Horse of the Year 6x down the road. Harry Vold (11x Contractor of the Year and HOF 1994) Tooke's genetics produced the famous Bobby Joe Skoal, Saddle Bronc of the Year 3x. Bennie Beutler (Contractor of the Year 1997, and HOF 2010) used the Tooke genes to give the world Commotion, Bareback Horse of the year 3x. The Tooke legacy spread like wild fire through and it continued through other numerous well known PRCA contractor herds such as Leo Cremer (HOF 1979), James Sutton (HOF 1982), Cotton Rosser (Contractor of the Year 1985, HOF 1995), Reg Kesler (HOF 1992), Neal Gay (HOF 1993), Mike Cervi (HOF 2003), Marv Brookman (HOF 2005), Ike Sankey, Sonny Riley, Bradford Ivy, along with many others.

The Miles City Bucking Horse Sale is world famous, and the first bucking horse sale was Feek's idea. Bill Linderman was rodeos top all-around cowboy and he expressed an interest in rodeo production during a conversation with Feek in June 1946. Feek brought up the idea of a horse bucking out of a chute and sold at auction, but he said he didn't have the time to put an auction together and suggested Bill give it a try. Bill Linderman promoted the "World's Premier Bucking Horse Auction" at Billings Montana in May of 1947, and Miles City Bucking Horse Sale was first held in 1950. Another one of Feek's ideas was putting the worlds finest cowboys against the worlds finest rough stock, creating the matched bronc riding in Ekalaka in July of 1948 in Ekalaka, Montana. That was followed up in Dickinson, North Dakota in 1948. This pitted the top cowboys in the world against the top rodeo stock in the world, this was the first event of its kind held. It became an annual even at the Home on the Range Rodeo in Sentinel Butte, North Dakota.

Feek Tooke promoted a matched bronc riding in Ekalaka, on July 28 1948. A second matched ride was held in Dickinson, North Dakota, in September 1948. The matches were the first rodeo events of that kind held in the northwest and became an annual event at the Home on the Range in Sentinel Butte, North Dakota. The ultimate reward for any man or woman who participated in rodeo is enshrinement in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma or the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Honorees in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center was organized in 1955, have been selected from rodeo's beginning years in the 1890s to the present. A large number were born before 1900. The PRCA Hall of Fame was established in 1979 as the Pro Rodeo Hall of Champions. The name was later changed to Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and added notable rodeo participants who contributed to rodeo's growth, but were not world champions. The majority of honorees in the Pro Rodeo Hall had arena careers in the 1930s and 40s, to the later generation of PRCA members.

Several men and women have been elected into both Halls, but an honoree's selection into both in the same year is quite rare. Prior to 2008, only three people made both in one year: Andy Jauregui in 1979, CR Boucher in 2001 and June Ivory in 2004. Feek Tooke from Ekalaka, Montana became the fourth when he was inducted to both prestigious hall of Fames July 2008. The awards were presented to Tooke family members. A question to ask is what if Prince would have never lived? The Tooke genetics started with Prince. Tooke bloodlines are esily identified as being big boned, large framed, feathered legs, more than usual mane; add a long roman nose and you will see Prince's ancestory. Without Prince's gene's and Feek's idea, who knows where the rodeo horse breeding programs would be today.

 

The foresight of Feek Tooke has had a huge impact on the world of rodeo for 70+ years that continues through today. None of this would have without his vision and a colt named Prince. Without Prince, Feek would not be remembered as a rodeo pioneer, and without Feek Prince never would have existed, vastly changing history. Feek has been recognized for his contributions to the world of rodeo and his family is now trying to get some of his horses into the hall of fame. Both Feek's and Princes legacies will live on every time a cowboy settles into the chute and nods his head, you will forever remember where it all started.

 

Information for this has been compiled by four generations of Tooke's...Thelma (widow), Ernest (Feek's son), Tim (Ernest's only son), and Toby (Tim's son). The Tooke ranch is still home to this day with 50-60 horses still roaming the land in Carter county and all of them are direct decedents of Prince.