Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dreams Coming True - Part One

It was a beautiful day here in Montana yesterday. I've been hauling to the local indoor arena to ride, but just stepping out into that warm fresh air, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ride outside, regardless of how muddy it was.

I caught Elvis and started to saddle him up. Maybe I am just a sap, but every time I am near that horse, my heart flutters.  As I rode out in the pasture, I rode through our mares and young horses. Many of the mares are heavy in foal to Elvis and will be bred again to him in a few months.  I can't help but think how blessed I am and to think back on how this all started....

In high school, I ran a grey gelding named Smoky. In short, he was simply amazing! He qualified me to Nationals three years, won the state barrel racing once and came in second twice, and one of the accomplishments that I cherish most was him winning the NDHSRA AQHA Girls Horse of the Year award for three years in a row. It was after he won this award the first time that I contacted his breeder to let her know of his accomplishments. We stayed in contact over the next several years and I ended up buying a half sister to Smoky from her.  In October 2005, she contacted me about a full sister she knew was for sale. I jumped at the opportunity and had her shipped up here from Texas.

At first I was unsure of who to breed her to. I knew I wanted to breed for a barrel horse, but didn't know which one for sure. At that point, I had ridden a handful of Frenchmans Guy colts and knew I liked them. He was my first choice but with his high stud fee (which now, people would leap at the chance to breed to him a that price!) I just didn't know what to do. I finally bit the bullet, sold one of my colts I had planned on keeping and booked my mare to Guy.  I prayed for a filly. I didn't care what color it was - sorrel, zebra, pink, etc. as long as it was a filly.

On that rainy May day, as I looked in the pasture to see a palomino standing next to that brown mare, my heart fluttered.  It quickly sank as I realized it was not the filly that I had requested. I was a mare girl. Sure I rode geldings but besides a few select geldings, they just didn't stick around here very long. I never had thought that I would own a Guy colt, so the thought of selling him made me sick to my stomach.

Contrary to what many may have thought, I had no intentions of owning a stud. I'd been around them enough and had competed on Mary's stud multiple times that I really had no  interest in all that extra work.  However, Elvis was special from that first day.  He was built how I wanted, good bone, feet, straight legs and was just a gem to handle.  As he grew up and we started working with him, we realized how willing and trainable he was.  We set high standards for him and with each year, he kept hitting them.  I decided that he was just too good to geld him. From there we built our program around him, finding mares that will compliment him and instead of buying all our prospects, for the most part, we are raising them!

Now, that pretty little palomino filly that turned out to be a stud colt is five years old. I'm starting to run him on barrels, dabbled a little in the roping pen, used him on the ranch and just have enjoyed every day with him. It felt like forever before he would grow up and I could ride him. Now he is all grown up and I couldn't be happier with how he turned out.  The years have sure flown by.

I sat him on top of a hill, watching all the broodies and young horses graze thinking, "What would my life be like if only I had gotten that filly?"  I'm sure she would have been a nice horse, but I know the good Lord had a hand in the outcome and He has surely blessed us.  He gave us a wonderful gift!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.
~David Brinkley

Okay, so I'm into the quotes right now. Seems like I've been stumbling on quite a few good ones lately and some I just can't help but share. 

In my youth, I used to show horses. It taught me so much about horsemanship and taking care of my horses on and off the road as well as good sportsmanship.  With the partnership with my wonderful gelding Cody, we excelled in the ranks of local and 4H shows bringing home many championships.  Horse showing is a very political sport. It is based on someone else's opinion and I grew tired of knowing we made a great run for instance in the reining class only to place lower than someone else due to someone's decision. I wasn't a sore loser, but I grew tired of the politics and wanted to compete in an event where I did not have to rely on a judge and the politics were never a factor of how I placed.

This is when barrel racing entered the picture. Although, I skipped the politics of determining my placings, it still unfortunately lingered. As I entered the high school rodeo scene a little unknown girl from Montana (I rodeoed in North Dakota), people didn't talk much at first.  Then at my first weekend of rodeoing, I placed a very solid 3rd and 4th in the barrels. I slowly became a victim of gossip.

This gossip was belittling and degrading to my hard work and partnership with my horse.  People saying I paid a very significant amount for my horse and how I would send my horse to the trainer during the week to keep him tuned up are just a few of the many that I remember. They are not a big deal to me now because the people that mattered know the truth, but I can't lie, I was bothered by it. I was so bothered by it that many times I over rode my horse trying to prove them wrong in one way or another.  Unfortunately, it backfired more than once and I shot myself in the foot every time I had that mentality.

As I've stepped out onto a ledge and took the plunge as a horse trainer, I've been criticized more than I'd like to even know.  Healthy criticism is never a bad thing and is welcomed by me, but many were down right cruel. Many times it was coming from people who had never rode a horse I trained.  It's disheartening and hurtful when those rumors make full circle and come back to me.  However, I've done my best to learn from my previous mistake and to just brush them off.  I won't lie, it still stings and I'm still bothered, which is only human.

I've learned that no matter what you do or where you're at, you'll always have critics somewhere.  You can either brush them off or let them bother you and tear you apart. I try to brush them off and let it fuel the fire to do better; not to show the critic wrong, but rather for myself.

You can let the bricks that are thrown at you pile up and become a wall between you and your goal. Or you could instead build them up into stairs to reach your goal. The choice is yours and only yours to make! People will talk and create rumors when they are insecure, threatened by you or jealous.  Don't give them the joy in seeing their words tear you apart.  Stand strong, be confident, and most of all enjoy what you're doing! 

Happy Trails!