I love horses; I am horse crazy. It is what I talk about, it is what I do for a living, and it is what I do in my spare time. I have been fortunate to have some wonderful horses in my barn, most of which I genuinely liked. There were a few that were not so fun, but the lion share of them were a treat to ride. I think all horse lovers have had that “special” horse in their life. Mine was a horse named Quioxte Light, aptly barn named, The Don.
Back in 2005 I was fairly new to the show horse industry in relative terms. I had not been training for the public all my life, and my show pen experience was somewhat limited when it came to anything other than the local show circuit. I had started making some headway in the show pen and felt like I was beginning to get noticed for my abilities.
I started getting a few clients that were willing to spend the kind of money that it took to buy the kind of horses that had the talent to win bigger events. You have to understand that most good trainers do not come to an understanding of how to train to a higher level without the help of a few great horses. You see, I was made a better trainer every time I had the opportunity to get on a horse that had more talent than anything that I had ridden before. Before The Don, I had ridden some pretty nice horses. I had some success in the show pen, and had made the finals of a couple of events. However, I had not ridden one with “big talent”. Then, I had a client that decided that he wanted to move to the next level of competition and buy a horse that could win at the big shows. Needless to say I was game.
That client sent me out with the instructions to find a “big time” horse. I had spent several days looking all over the country trying to find a really good one. But you have to remember, I had never ridden and shown a “big time” horse. You would think that it would be an obvious decision, but let me tell you, it is not. When people find out that you have quite a bit of money to spend on a horse, then suddenly all the horses turn into big time horses. So, I sat my client down after my first search and I explained to him, that I had some concerns. I had one of the biggest opportunities of my career to that point, and to be honest I wanted to make sure I did not screw this up. I explained to him that I had never ridden a horse that was worth $60,000, much less one that was worth $100,000. In fact, I furthered explained, this is more money than I spent on my first house! I was not shying away from the task, I just wanted him to know this was not as easy a job as I thought it would be, and the last thing I wanted to do was over pay for a horse.
His response baffled me, he said that he really appreciated my honesty and that if it was gonna break him then he would be concerned. He then told me to find the best horse possible, and he would decide if the price tag was too much. Long story short, I chose Quixote Light. The Don was the prettiest horse that I think I have ever seen. He had a hair coat like most sons of Gray Starlight. It was like a shiny copper penny, and when the sunlight hit him it was a brilliant color. He was purchased just a week out from the NRHA Derby, which is held in Oklahoma City, and his entries had already been paid for by the previous owner so we figured what the heck, let’s go for it.
Let me tell you, it may seem like it was be a big thing to sell a horse for that kind of money, something that would be really hard to pull off and get done. What I soon found out was, that was not the hard part. The hard part starts after the sale, when you have to perform. The part when your Chihuahua butt has to back up your alligator mouth. That my friend is where the boys are separated from the men. My first time in the show pen with Quixote Light was an absolute bomb. I could blame it on several things, but the fact was that I had let the show nerves get to me and got myself completely worked up. I didn’t even score high enough to get a second run.
Much to my fortune, this client let me take the time needed to get to know The Don at a couple more shows. So I spent the next six months or so learning how to show him. The following year, The Don and I ran to every show possible in the state of Texas. The Don taught me how to show hard, and how to fix the things I was messing up by running hard in the show pen. He also taught me how to work with a horse in the show pen instead of forcing them or over riding them. He paid for a lot of my mistakes in the show pen and also made up for a lot of them too with his talent. He was one of those horses that truly made me a better horseman. The Don and I went on to win several regional and national titles along with several derby wins.
As the years went by The Don got older and aged out of all of the large money events. The breeding industry died off with the economy, and it did not make sense to breed him to the three broodmares the owner had, so he decided to put him up for sale. It was a heart breaking day when he sold and went to a new owner who was looking at using him as a breeding stud for his small new breeding program. He was still going to be ridden just not going to be shown. He was retired from showing, deservedly so. I learned a lot from that too and all of the horses that I train now also benefit from the mistakes that I made and learned from The Don.
Several years later, I meet a lady at a horse show. She was just getting into reining, and had purchased a reining horse that she would like for me to help her with. Well, low and behold the horse she wanted help on was The Don! She now owned him and was interested in using him to show. I could not have been more thrilled to have this horse enter back into my life. When she brought him over, he was just as beautiful as the day he left. However, he did have more years and a lot of miles on him. After much deliberation and time, we decided that he really needed a slower pace of life and really would not hold up to the rigors of full time training and showing. So, he was retired again, and guess what? I own him!
He is now a gelding and spends most of his time being pampered and loved on by me and my students. He is my star lesson horse and he loves his new role of making a lot of my new students much better reiners. It is a great privilege to get to have him as a part of my program. He has continued to give a ton to me, my family and my business. I owe him, and will be eternally grateful for the lessons he taught me in the show pen, the places he took my career, and the friendship he has given me over the years. I truly believe that the horses I train and show now, benefit from all this great horse taught me.
For those of you that have not heard of the NRHA Derby held in Oklahoma City, it is one of the premiere events put on by the National Reining Horse Association. It is a derby that four, five and six year old horses are eligible to compete in, of which last year there were 450 entries in the derby alone. The event is held in conjunction with a full slate of classes and there are usually a little over 1,000 head of horses there to compete. The added money last year was $650,000, so no one is coming to this show just to practice or get your horse out for a weekend. They are here to run and win. Fans of the sport and spectators are here to watch, not just in the stands but with the internet, they are watching around the globe.
I have had the privilege over the years to compete at this event quite a few times and have done well. I have been the Reserve Derby Champion in the Limited Open, I have also fallen flat on my face. No quite literally flat on my face, skidding through the center of the arena like I was sliding into home plate while still in the saddle. My horse lost his footing, went down and the rest is history. It was quite a wreck, we were running fast circles and my horse, got a little out of control when it came to running his fast circles. My thought was, well I am here to show, and if I pull him up we are not going to get scored anything. Maybe I will just go with it and smile like it is something that I asked for and the judges will give me the benefit of the doubt. All doubt was removed when we both hit the dirt in the middle of the arena. Insult to injury came when my horse got up without me, and ran a lap around the arena with his tail in the air. One of my friends had to jump down out of the stands to catch my horse.
It was horrible. I was horrified, humiliated, defeated and a whole bunch of other things. To make matters worse I had to shake that off and go show another horse in the same pen, in front of the same audience, the same judges and the same peers. Then to top it all off I had to call my client and tell him not only did we not win, we wiped out and received a zero score. Not one of my shining moments.
I have had some tough times on horses; tough lessons learned and tough relationships lost. So you might ask, why in the world do you show and train horses for a living? Because, What I have learned and gained from horses, this sport and the people that surround me are priceless. Horses have sent me on a life journey that I will be forever grateful for, and I am a better man because of the horses I ride and show.
Horses have taught me about perseverance and grit. As the great Babe Ruth once said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” You have to fail to succeed and sometimes a lofty goal or ambition is worth failing for a few times. I have literally fallen off the horse and had to get back on (more times than I care to share). However, being able to persevere and actually succeed has been very rewarding. It has taught me that “I can” and I have been able to coach many others through to the same mindset of setting goals and achieving them.
Horses have taught me about grace. Not the kind of grace it takes to fall off of one, but the kind that is free and unmerited. They have been kind and forgiving of my mistakes and have tried in spite of them. Horses have given me perspective and taught me humility. The Bible says God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. I thank God that he taught me this and so many lessons through something I love so much.
There are always horses coming and going. Clients buy new horses, sale old horses, get out of horses all together, run out of money, change trainers, change disciplines and the list goes on. It is never easy to see horses leave that you grow attached to, but it is inevitable…things just change, they do people. This is not an easy business to make your living, but I am not sure we would have it any other way. We have met some fabulous people, some not so fabulous people, great horses, some not so great horses but they have all left their mark on us. We learn something new from all of them, and just feel fortunate that they entrust them to us for awhile on their journey. You know, every day presents new challenges and accomplishments. Frankly, life is just good around the ranch. The people we are surrounded by are top notch and the fact that we get to do all of this with our little family makes it so special.
Todd and I are considering adding to our little family. So pray for us. Pray that we don’t screw it up, lol. Just kidding….sort of. We serve a mighty, merciful God and I am certain that what is supposed to happen will, but your prayers would mean the world to us. Todd and I have been blessed by adoption once and are considering it again. Only this time instead of one child we would be considering three more. We would be out numbered 2 to 1, but other people do it, why not us? I just pray that what is supposed to happen does, and that Todd and I are up for the challenge. Children are a heritage from the Lord, a reward of God’s grace. We pray that if this is God’s will, we raise these children how God see’s fit. Thanks for taking the journey with us! See you down the horse show road! Taumi
We showed in March at the reining show in Hamilton. It was in the middle of nowhere! But, the facility was cool. It has a hotel and restaurant on the grounds, thank goodness! The town of Hamilton has very little in it, especially in the way of eating! It really surprised me, because Hwy 281 runs right through the middle of town. Plus they have a really cool town square, with a beautiful old court house. I always love those old courthouses! Anyway, the show was kind of a dud for us. Alli Buffington showed Priss (aka Playboys Last Fling) and had a good run. They had a few bobbles so the end result was like a 68. It was derby, so that wasn’t going to win her anything, but she looked great on the mare….and really taught her a lot for her next derby! Todd showed Canelo (aka Pick N Berries) and had a fantastic run, except the horse kicked out on the lead change. So his 74 run was quickly taken to a 68 between the penalty and maneuver score. Bummer. He also showed Willy (aka West Coast Willy) who marked a 71. Unfortunately, he swapped leads in the center a few times. They don’t give extra points for that. So, he too, was on target for a 73/74, but it was not to be.
We were at the NRBC, in Katy in April. I am convinced that no one in Katy has a kitchen in their house. There is never a time that you go out to eat that the restaurant isn’t packed! The show as always was big and action packed. Todd and Alli both showed in the Derby. They had good runs, but didn’t score high enough to make the finals. We stayed in a corporate apartment this year. That was nice! We have never done that for a long show like this. We usually stay in a hotel, but man that is a long time in a hotel. We will definitely do the corporate housing again!
At the end of April we went to the Graham Stampede in, yep you guessed it, Graham! What a lovely town. It was very picturesque and quaint. Beautiful homes, lots of restaurants and plenty of hotel rooms. The facility was good. Not my favorite facility, but definitely good for the competitors and horses. Us spectators have different needs than the people showing! We had a great show! Todd marked a 73.5 on Canelo and had a great run on him! Tracy and Envy (aka Such a Day) had a great show. She was reserve champion in the NHNP L2 and was 3rd in the Green Horse L2. Miko Garcia had his first time in the pen, ever, on Red (aka Red River Banjo). He marked a 66.5, stayed on pattern and finished in the top 10 of his first ever class! It was really awesome to watch!
Our next show is the Great Escape at the Greater Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy. We looked forward to seeing you all there and until next time, see you down the show road!!….Taumi
The Shoot Out is just around the corner! It is so hard to believe that a year has gone by since the first one, but here we sit anticipating the 2nd annual Shoot Out. The response by sponsors and the community has been phenomenal. I am always so humbled by peoples generosity and willingness to give of their resources and time. I hope that this years Shoot Out leaves the attendees, competitors and sponsors feeling like they got their “money’s worth”. I know Todd and I enjoy bringing people to the Texas Hill Country and hope that all who come to compete see why we love it here so much. But really more than anything, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for making the Shoot Out a stop on your show calendar! If you need more info on the Shoot Out feel free to call me or visit the website at www.sananotnioshootout.com!
We made it back fromt the Waco Warm Up in one piece and no worse for the wear considering the temperature! The aptly named show was HOT! Todd won the Open Derby on Wimpy’s Lil Hollywood, owned by BJ Vick. Thank you BJ for allowing us to partner with you on such a fantastic horse! He is truly a gem! Our non pro’s survived the event, and even had fun! Everyone had a great show, it was fun to see all of them show and make progress. It is truly a blessing to see! Everyone works so hard and it is rewarding to see them give it all they got in the showpen. I know it means so much to everyone. Pastor Mike had services for Turn Around Ministry. That ministry is really taking off….it is great to see the reining industry embrace it.
Our next show is the Tulsa Ariat Reining Classic at the end of August. This show is home to our Affiliate Finals as well as a large derby and futurity. Todd is showing in both the derby and futurity. He has a handful of his non pro’s going to show in the affiliate finals. So we have our fingers crossed for a successful show and successful journey.
We are truly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people and horses. We thank God everyday that he allows us to do the work we love with people that we love.
The Shootout is coming along! The facility is booked, the dates are set and the sponsors are coming on board! We want to welcome Retama Equine Hospital and Ewald Tractor as gold level sponsors and Bluebonnet Feeds as a contributing sponsor. We sincerely appreciate their support and are looking forward to a great show. Make your calendars and plan on attending! If you are interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Taumi Martin at 830-249-7835 or email@example.com or click here for more information.
NRHA reining is officially coming to San Antonio! We will host an NRHA, AQHA and STRHA approved show on March 28-30 at the San Antonio Rose Palace. To make stall reservations contact Glenda Harrel at (817) 929-5802 firstname.lastname@example.org. To become an event sponsor for the show, contact Taumi Martin at email@example.com or by calling at 830-249-7835. Here is a link to the show bill! Hope to see you there!