High school sweethearts John and Linda Tucker are living out the cinematic dreams of die-hard romantics everywhere. The couple celebrated 55 years of wedded bliss on September 2 with the National Reining Breeders Classic as the backdrop.
“We first met in the fourth grade in Carrolton, Texas,” Linda said. John, however, remembers his first sighting of his lifetime pattern a bit differently.
“I was working at a grocery store and she was two stores down at the variety store,” John said. “I was on my way for a coffee break when I looked in the story and saw her. I thought I’d invite her for a coffee break.”
The rest, as they say, is history. After graduating from Texas A&M University, John worked for the school before getting into the printing business. As always, Linda was by his side through it all. Two daughters and four grandchildren later and the Tuckers are doing everything but leisurely retirement activities.
“We’ve had many experiences in life, we’ve ridden motorcycles and flown airplanes, we’ve done it all,” Linda said, smiling at the fond memories. “We’ve had a great time in life, and it’s been a real trip. But I’ve enjoyed the horses the most.”
Growing up on a ranch, John had a horse but just for work. It wasn’t until both of his daughters started showing in the all-around classes in 4-H and the American Quarter Horse Association that he experienced the showpen, just ringside for the time being.
Both daughters were on national champion horse judging teams. Linda took them to practice and picked up some judging skills of her own in the process. Nowadays Linda uses those skills to help John pick out his reining mounts. He’s currently under the direction of Nathan Piper at Piper Reining Performance Horses.
“Nathan Piper was in our 4-H club; he’s the same age as our youngest daughter,” John said. “I’ve known Nathan since he was a kid and had the privilege of helping him years ago. And now he’s helping me. It’s all come full circle.”
It wasn’t until becoming empty nesters that John swung his leg over one of the old show horses and started dabbling in reining. A close friend showed him the sport and later introduced him to some of reinings founding fathers: Dick Piper and Bob Loomis, among others.
“I started coming to the Futurity many years ago and that’s when I was reading everything I could about reining, buying all the books and videos so I could learn more about it,” he said. “I didn’t start showing until about ten years ago.”
Once teamed up with Wimpys Little Hollywood, John was unstoppable in the prime time pen. He was the 2017 NRHA Prime Time World Champion and placed in the top 10 in five classes at the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships (NAAC).
“I was just hoping to finish in the top 10 in one class because I wanted to win a jacket,” John said. He left Oklahoma City with five jackets and a truckload of hardware.
“We have to laugh about that year because at the beginning of it John said all he wanted to do was win another one of those small trophies so he could give one to all four of our grandchildren,” Linda said. “Now we have trophies and buckles everywhere. We had a great run that year and it was a lot of fun.”
Despite all the success, the Tuckers appreciate the good people they encounter the most. Although, many reiners will agree that John and Linda are the definition of good people.
“This horse show bunch is so wonderful, we’ve met a lot of really great people,” John said.
After 55 years together, John and Linda have learned a lot about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.
“A long marriage boils down to commitment,” John summed up. “Going into it, you just have to tell yourself it’s going to work and then you have to make it work because no marriage is perfect or without its ups and downs.”