Cutting horse competitor and advocate Harland Radomske, known to friends and family as “Ske,” passed away on June 8.
His long-time friend and fellow cutter, Jack Holt, sent us this essay in memory of Harland and his contributions to the sport, which he promote enthusiastically in the Pacific Northwest and made a particular impact on the Amateur and Novice Non-Pro classes.
Harland Radomske, known as “Ske,” passed away on June 8. He left peacefully and confidently in this passage. He left peacefully and confidently in this passage.
A favorite saying of his was “I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in” and that was evident right to the very end of his 81 years.
There are few that did not know Harland. He knew no strangers. From your first conversation with him, you were certain where Ske stood on any subject. His conviction and core values were always showing.
Harland was a relatively late bloomer in the cutting horse world, starting in 1982 at the age of 43. As with all things he was passionate about, he jumped in with both feet. He built a facility near Ellensburg in Central Washington State called Venture Farms that proudly carried the VF brand, which was home to many great cuttings in the Pacific Northwest, including the Northwest Stallion Stakes. It was one of the first go-to-the-cattle ranch-type cutting facilities that became so popular in the 1990s and 2000s.
An effort to bring NCHA approvals to Northwest Cutting Horse Association shows was next on Ske’s agenda. The change to approved shows was not easy and took a great deal of effort which he gladly gave. It got done under his leadership.
He cut at all levels, and discovered success early on at the national level. If there is one dream we all share, it is to have THE horse that wins the NCHA Futurity. That dream was realized for Harland in 1985 when The Gemnist won the Futurity with Kathy Daughn on board. That really put a spotlight on Washington and the Northwest and promoted cutting in our area in a big way.
Harland excelled as a rider as well, accumulating more than $357,000 in NCHA lifetime earnings and achieved Gold Lifetime Rider status. He was back in Fort Worth in 1986 to show in the very first NCHA Futurity Limited Non-Pro. He won it.
The PCCHA was experimenting with a new class called the Novice Non-Pro. Ske became a major advocate for introducing these classes to the NCHA and getting them approved on an experimental basis. They were an instant success and quickly adopted. It was the same story with the Amateur classes, where he was an outspoken advocate for adding this new class category to cutting. It was a team effort and he certainly acted as a team leader. These classes sure leveled the playing field.
Ske also pushed very hard to establish the Western Nationals in Ogden, Utah, with the first show beginning in 1996 for the 1995 point year. Prior to that, the Nationals were held exclusively in Jackson, MS. Much of this advocacy came from his 25 years as an NCHA Director, and his many NCHA Committee assignments.
These outstanding efforts on behalf of fellow cuttings led to an outstanding award in 2013 … the NCHA Members Hall of Fame. Prestigious indeed and a recognition of the many accomplishments on behalf of the association and its members. This is one award you can’t buy. You have to earn it from members.
This past month of May, Ske attended the Breeders Invitational in Tulsa, OKlahoma. He was on the show’s board of directors for 18 years, from its inception. The BI is known for innovation, creativity and responding to cutters which was right up his alley. It recognized Harland’s advocacy on behalf of Amateurs by permanently renaming the Derby Amateur class to the Harland Radomske 4-Year-Old Amateur at this year’s awards presentation.
Jody Radomske and family are planning a Celebration of Life at 11 a.m., June 23 at McIntosh Ranch Event Center in Ellensburg. They will also have a celebration at the Summer Spectacular in Fort Worth at a date to be determined.