It was a great Sunday in Denver!
Creating Champions in the Ring and in Life
Eric Walker believes that there are four ways to win a show: First, you have to start with a reliable project that is backed by genetics. Second, you have to stick with a consistent feeding regimen, down to the nitty-gritty details. Third, hard-work can and will always trump natural talent on any given day. Walker says, “No championship banner has ever been won in the show arena. That banner has always been won from home through dedication, blood, sweat and tears.” Finally and possibly most importantly, Walker believes that while some call it luck, he believes in faith and God’s blessings. Even if you don’t walk away with a banner, Walker believes that the lessons learned and the relationships made throughout the experience are what makes it all worthwhile.
Walker is a 4th generation livestock show participant. He grew up showing steers at a local/state level, but what really pushed him to get into this industry was his grandparents, Russell and Betty Ruth Walker, and his son, Mason Walker. When Mason was four years old, Walker’s grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. Walker felt a strong calling in his heart to make it possible for his grandfather to see his great-grandson show in a livestock arena. So, at four years old Mason wound up showing a sheep at their local county show. They recorded the show and then played it back for his great-grandfather who was in the hospital at the time. The following year, Mason eagerly asked his father when they were going to go pick out his next sheep… and so it began.
His mother and father, Larry and Be-Ann Walker, were a couple of his biggest inspirations when it comes to his passion for people and his constant drive to succeed. They always pushed him to stay true to his own core values and morals regardless of circumstance. He hopes that with the help of his wife, Linsay Walker, that together they will be able to instill those same values into their three children: Mason (17), Whitney (16) and Catelyn (13). Walker wants his children and his customers to work hard to be the best that they can be. He reminds them that, “It’s just a show. There will always be another show, but don’t ever sell yourself short and always aim big.”
Today, Willow Springs Cattle Company are currently running around 600 head of cattle. They primarily stay true to Maine-Anjou, but believe in venturing out into the other breeds for a number of different reasons. When you run into the Walker family at a show, you’ll notice that they will have anything from Angus to Shorthorn, to Chi to Charlois, to Herefords and more! Why? Because Walker loves the challenge of learning each of the breed’s strengths and weaknesses, the different crosses he breeds and the endless opportunities to make genuine connections with others that are involved in the different breed associations. The friendships that he has made throughout the years is what keeps him showing all of these different breeds of cattle because he not only has a passion for livestock, but also for those people around him. To Walker, there is so much more to showing than just winning a title. While it is important to set goals for yourself and to aim big, Walker realizes that the impact he can make on the future generations gives him the drive to push those around him to be humble in both winning and losing. “I always tell my kids to keep their head held high when they walk out of a show arena regardless of how they place,” Walker says, “stock shows are a way to get away from the craziness of life, and to be surrounded by people that have the same drive that you do. They work long hard hours to feed the same fire that we all come here for.”
Willow Springs Cattle Company wants to continue to grow and be prosperous in the coming years by setting goals to keep them going. In 2010, they were able to walk away from the American Royal with a Supreme championship banner. In the future, Walker would love to win a major with his own bred and owned stock, take Supreme at Louisville and hopefully stand in on a champion backdrop photos with a customer, not just his kids. Overall, he wants to continue to raise good and competitive cattle.