“I got my love for horses from my grandmother and now it’s been carried down through four generations.”
The lifetime of involvement serving everything horses received appropriate acknowledgment with dedication ceremonies naming The Jane Wallace Arena at Beloit.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the recognition even though I don’t really deserve any special honor,” Jane Wallace said.
Organizer of the Mitchell County Riders saddle club at Beloit, Jane was honored for her longtime club leadership. “Most of the original group are gone now,” Jane admitted. “But I still help out with club activities in what ways I can.”
Actually, Jane was mowing the arena grounds early last week. “There’s always upkeep for something like this,” commented Jane, who announces and assists with bookkeeping at several shows annually..
Growing up riding horses on the farm where she still resides, Jane vividly remembers many fond times. “My first horse was actually a pony named Toby. My grandmother had her horse and we rode everywhere together,” then Jane (Thierolf) smiled.
Christmas time was extra special for the farm girl-horse lover. “I had a cart and sleigh that Toby would pull with Santa Claus in the parade,” Jane remembered.
When attending her first horse show, Jane recalls getting to hold another rider’s horse when there was an emergency on the grounds. “I felt privileged that the owner trusted me just a young girl to care for his horse,” Jane said.
Not knowing much about racing events at that time, Jane had another opportunity still close to her heart decades later. “I got to ride an outstanding horse in the pole bending event,” she reflected. “The horse knew the pattern and I just hung on. After that I was completely hooked on horse shows.”
Attending Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri, Jane met her future husband Don Wallace. “Don was raised on a farm, and we had our first date riding his horse,” Jane said.
With Mitchell County family farming and elevator operations, Jane and Don partnered in the enterprises raising their children at Beloit.
“Don was more a cattleman than crop producer, but he became a good farmer,” Jane credited. “I always helped with the farming, and also had an upholstery business for 20 years.”
Their children Mark and Sara were introduced to horses at an early age.
“Mark started riding in local horse shows and before long Sara had to compete too,” Jane said. “Mark won his first trophy for third place at a Western Kansas Horseman’s Association (WKHA) show. Then he was ready to horse show all of the time.”
After being organized, Mitchell County Riders’ first shows were on property situated by the Wallace farm.
“Then the club built a new arena at the Mitchell County Fairgrounds,” Jane said. “It was a nice facility, but had to be moved when the car racetrack was expanded. Fortunately, the county reassembled our arena where it is presently located.”
The Wallace children became 4-H club members and Jane was a club leader. “I was on the fair board for many years,” she said. “I became superintendent of the horse show during the county fair and helped with all of the 4-H activities.”
Local youth and others from a wide area benefited from Jane’s knowledge improving horsemanship skills and finding horses to ride.
Mark and Sara collected local, district and state 4-H awards showing horses. “They were also high-point riders a number of years in the Eastern Kansas Horseman’s Association (EKHA),” Jane noted.
Jane would occasionally ride in local horse shows and Don even tried it a few times. “Actually, we were more horse show parents than participants,” Jane said. “We had a ’59 pickup to pull the farm stock trailer. All four of us would load into the narrow pickup’s front seat with show trophies on the dashboard.”
While Jane always liked riding horses whenever she could, Don actually preferred supporting the rest of the family’s horse endeavors. “Of course, he helped at the shows and always assisted with upkeep of the saddle club arena,” Jane credited.
After their children left home and married, Jane started competing in horse shows more herself. “We had the good horses, actually going to waste not being used, and I really enjoyed showing,” she said.
Close to Jane’s heart is that the family trained their own winning horses and even raised some of their best mounts.
“We couldn’t afford high priced horses or trainers, so we made do with what we had,” Jane noted. “Not bragging, but we fortunately had several top pleasure horses as well as some great speed event competitors.”
Soon her grandchildren became involved in horse competition as well. “Sara’s daughter DJ enjoyed competing and was a great rider,” Jane said. “Sarah, DJ and I went to shows together for a time, and DJ was crowned the Junction City Rodeo Queen.”
It was a heartbreak loss for the entire family when DJ passed from a tragic automobile accident. Sara, who specializes in making Western chaps, has continued sponsoring the Junction City Rodeo Queen Pageant in DJ’s memory.
Mark’s daughters Sierra and Brooke continued their horse family tradition. “They were successful riding in 4-H and EKHA shows collecting many awards,” Jane said.
“Brooke was Miss Rodeo Kansas and competed at the Miss Rodeo America Pageant in Las Vegas.” Jane noted. “Then Brooke was crowned Miss Rodeo USA and traveled around the country representing that association.”
Brooke now has her own Twisted X brand making rodeo queen clothing. Sierra has completed her degree as a PA (physician’s assistant) and works in that profession.
While Jane’s children and grandchildren did not live at Beloit, horse shows always brought them together. “I looked forward to the weekends where all of my family gathered to compete at horse shows,” Jane said. “That even became more special after Don’s passing.”
Jane and her children have served numerous EKHA leadership roles. Sara (Prochaska) was president several terms while she and Mark were long responsible for hauling equipment to shows.
At the annual EKHA year-end banquet, the Wallace family annually received many age division high-point and event awards. “I was even fortunate enough to win several nice trophies throughout the years,” Jane appreciated.
While Jane no longer rides, her horse enthusiasm continues and several family members are still regular horse show competitors.
“There’s nothing like the outside of a horse for the inside of a person,” it has often been quoted.
Jane Wallace agrees. “I can’t think of anything better to carry on a family tradition than riding and showing horses.”