Monday, April 27, 2009

High Dollar Horses

In last month's issue of the Western Horseman was a brief article about High-Dollar Barrel Racing(Out of the Chutes by Ed Knocke)...and it has kind of stuck in my craw every since.

I looked for the article online so you all could read it yourselves, but was not able to locate I'm just going to basically hit on a few of the points that sorta torqued me off and why.

"Barrel racing has undergone a major transformation in recent years. Today's women ride racehorses with outstanding pedigrees, not cow horses with ranch savvy. And as the quality of competition has increased, available money has spiraled upward."

There is no doubt this is all true... kinda. It's an odd statement to make when so many barrel horse trainers actually prefer horses that have been used on a ranch or will specifically send their green horses somewhere so they can get some cattle work done on them. Why? Because top barrel horses are more than just racehorses. Barrel racing is not all about speed. You have to have a fast horse...that can also turn a barrel. It's a delicate mix. If it was only a race, you would see more TB's succeeding in barrel racing and well, can anyone think of a single TB that has ever been a great barrel horse? I can't.

Lindsey Spears, speaks of her mare, Martha(worth six figures), "She was born to run barrels, based on her genetics. Her sire competed at the NFR. Even today, he's among the most dominant stallions in barrel racing. There are very few people out there riding $500 horses today."

Yea, she's right. Martha's bloodlines are the cream of the crop. That mare is doing exactly what she was bred to do......And she was almost a wash-out! She was originally intended to be a futurity horse, but wasn't handling that very well. You all want to know why Martha is the great barrel horse she is today? Dena Kirkpatrick KNEW this mare had potential. She KNEW she was a great mare. And she was smart enough not to ruin her by forcing the futurity issue. I always wonder just how many horses with the exact same potential end up washed out and with blown minds because people can't or won't recognize that what they are doing isn't working?

This is where I get more than a bit huffy about what some people think $500 horses are or are capable of achieving. There are a lot of girls going down the road these days that ARE riding high dollar horses. Almost none of them MADE these horses. They are just good at maintaining them and good enough jockeys that they can get good runs out of these horses. But where did these horses come from? They weren't always high dollar horses. Someone had to train them. Someone had to put the time in on them to make them what they are. Cause if they hadn't, they would be $500 horses(or free).

Brittany Pozzi-Pharr thinks cheap barrel horses are a thing of the past. She paid a significant amount for her horse, Stitch, that she won't even reveal the exact figure. "I paid quite a bit for him," she says. "He was already a trained barrel horse and the man who owned him knew what he was."

Well, Duuuhhhh!! Some of these girls...I swear! Anytime you have a good one, you know what they are and you are not going to give them away. BTW, Thanks Brittany...I'm going to jack the price of all my barrel horses several grand...because barrel horses aren't cheap these days. ;-)

The part that irritates me the most is when they compare jockeys, like these girls to people who made their horses. Like...

Charmayne James and Scamper...and Magic....and Cruizer. Charmayne made all of those horses. Particularly Scamper. Charmayne is more than just a jockey on a barrel horse. She can make a horse great-from start to the NFR. I think I remember Scamper's original price was $1500(?).


Kristie Peterson and Bozo. Yea, Bozo was a $400 purchase. He was also partially blind, cranky, untrained and bad to kick. It took Kristie and her husband YEARS to turn Bozo into a decent saddle horse, much less a 4-time World Champion.

or even...

Kelly Kaminski and Rocky. Kelly raised Rocky, out of a mare she paid $500 for. But she was the one who trained him and made him great.

how about...

Jill Moody and Dolly. Jill doesn't even own Dolly. But she is about the only one who can get along with her. Dolly's owners raised her and think the world of both Jill and Dolly.

Maybe it's because I have a soft spot for the underdog. Maybe, it's because I actually train my own barrel horses...but, I don't think the big change in barrel racing is so much about what a horse costs. I think we have just realized a clear delineation between barrel racers and barrel jockeys.

You know, for a long time, I didn't really care for Sheri Cervi. It was no secret that she came from money and paid big bucks for the horses she rode. But, I read a quote from her one time that raised my level of respect for her wayyyy up there. Basically she just acknowledged that her family did have money and could afford to pay for very nice horses for her. She always wanted to make it to the NFR and she was thankful she had the means to make that dream come true.

Now that's a woman after my own heart. So down to earth and grateful for the opportunities she had available. There was no looking down on others and no need to feel superior because she could afford to buy the best. There is an article about her in the new Western Horseman this month. She is going to make a bid for the NFR on a horse raised by her family. And I for one, hope she kicks some snotty little jockey butt!!

Does this mean I don't respect people who buy finished horses to run barrels on? Absolutely not, if everyone trained their own horses, trainers would be out of business. I just don't like the attitude that you have to pay big bucks to make it.


Paint Girl said...

I agree with you 100%! I read that article and the comments made me cringe. It is so sad these days that to compete with the big dogs you have to pay 6 figures!
There are alot of $500 horses out there that can do anything if someone just puts the time and training on them.

Anonymous said...

I like to cheer for the local gals who ride their ponies around the barrels because it is what they love to do. They take their home-raised ponies, they ride their neighbor's pony, they ride the little misfits, just so that they can enjoy the sport. Oh, they may dream of bigger races and higher levels of competition, but they continue in their local venues and have a ball with it.
And you are right on about the big competition.

Pony Girl said...

Well-said, BEC. I'd never really thought about it from this perspective. Thanks for always challenging our thinking! I missed the article because I forgot to renew my subscription to WH, grrr!
I usually just see the barrel racign at the local rodeos, lots of fun $500 horses and young girls just wishin' on a star!

LuLo Designs/Blue Eyed Tango said...

Hey thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave suggestions to help load my man.....I'll try it, nothing to lose! I really like what you said here in this post. I've never barrel raced (only on my quarter pony as a kid pretending)but I have always had respect for the those who do it and the sport. Does not matter the venue with horses seems you have those snotty little jockey butts with no appreciation for what they've got! You said it well.

Unknown said...

Good post - I share you opinion, and can extend it toward the show world - I kept drawing parallels with the barrel world and the show world the whole time I was reading your post.

kdwhorses said...

Awesome post and Amen sista to ya for saying and writing the truth! I think it's that why in every event! Like rodeoing, roping, etc. I think there are alot of people that don't want to take the time to train and work with one. I know working with a colt, makes you think sometimes, but I know in the end what I'm going to have! Alot of people want to buy it already done and go. Well sometimes that just doesn't work, horses don't get along with the rider, etc, etc, etc. I have been blessed with my mare`who totally rocks! But she really doesn't like men, she toleartes hubby when he heels off her. For great magic to happen the horse and rider have to click together! Great article! I read the article in WH on Sherry and thought it was great as well and I hope she does kick some butt at the NFR on there own horse!

SunnySD said...

Excellent points - and how many of the riders they interviewed are actually at the $500-horse stage in their careers? They pretty much all have the cash to either buy a "bred to barrel" horse, or a finished, proven horse that's now worth the high dollars.

For anyone starting out, it's a matter of buying a prospect that looks good in your price range, or running with what you have and making the best of it.

Ah, well...

Danielle Michelle said...


I wish more people had this mentality. Hard work makes any horse what it is - like you said - it isn't a top dollar horse when it hits the ground as a baby.

I think those who have succeeded the most are those who have put the time and hours in, because they respect more of what they are on. Those who don't train their own but spend the time working their horse are just as good. I believe it pays off..and I know a lot of cheap horses out there that are worth a lot of money.

In fact, a horse ought out of the killpen here in CO 8 years ago as a three year old with no papers or pedigree to speak of was just bought for $20,000 for roping and ranch work. That's impressive for the horrid market we have with horses at the moment. And I beleive that horse is worth every penny.

Chelsi said...

Yah, sounds like that kinda thing crosses over to every dicipline. I think it is a different story for trainers than it is for Non-pros because most non-pros need to go out and buy a finished and competitive horse to learn to show on. .... but then... I find it kind of frustrating because my trainer feels that I should learn to ride a finished horse (reiner) perfectly before I even think about how a maneuver is put together and developed, which I think is right... in principle but at the same time I watch people riding their finished and seasoned horses and making a lot of mistakes BECAUSE they dont know how a maneuver is put together. I also figured out that a lot of people dont WANT to know WHY or how, they just want to get on, show and win. I dont care about showing, I want to train! But I totally get that you have to be able to do it perfectly on a finished horse before training it! Grrr!!! I also dont like the idea that if I went out and spent $20,000 on a horse today I could clean up locally but winning does not mean that I would be riding really well. Sorry, I know this is a little off topic but the idea is the same, how much you develop vs how much you can just go out and buy!

(hope some of this makes sense, I cant think this morning)

Anonymous said...

I think it is true in all horse sports. You can pay a lot of $, but if the horse isn't started right, it doesn't make a difference. I know a lot of cutting horses that people paid 5 or more digits for, but novice riders wreck them without a good trainer. I got my mare for free...and we worked our way into showing with SWEAT equity. It can be done, and I think sometimes that is the way to go because the rewards are twice as sweet. Plus I hear "rich" people talk about their horses being "limited showing" in order to excuse their poor run, when in fact the horse has a lot of earnings for local shows, but the owner can't get the horse shown because of their riding skills, or should I say a lack of them.

Mikey said...

Oh girl, thank you so much for writing this post. It burns me to see these people who don't work for it. They have no idea what it takes to make a horse. YEARS of work.
Thanks also for your comment. I think you're right about ol Sugarfoot, she's built for those poles. We'll be doing it this time next year, no doubts in my mind.
You rock girl. Tell it like it is!

LuLo Designs/Blue Eyed Tango said...

Oh I forgot to tell you that we did try loading with our older mare in front of the trailer and he still did not load. He has loaded fine up until now? A friend asked me if I felt this was a sign that he shouldn't go to this trainer! LOL! I don't think that way.

Vaquerogirl said...

OK- Breathe girl! No matter what the discipline few people that own the great horses actually made them!
The people that made them are good at what they do (generally) and they sell them to these well heeled clients for lots of money! And the well heeled pay the money because they can no way make a star but want one anyway! If I could afford a star- I'd buy one!
But I can't so I have my own $500 horse that I am making into a planet- not quite a star- but I love him anyway and to me- really -the fun is in the making-- not the owning! Aren't you and I lucky to be able to make one ( or more!) They wish they were us!

Andrea said...

Oh, I am so on this Band Wagon with ya!! My entire life I have always wanted that 60,000 dollar WP horse. I wanted to show and I wanted to win. But some how that never happened. The horse nor the money!! I have always just wanted one horse that I would ride into an arena and everyone would turn their head because the horse I was on was so great! Yeah, that never happened either. I always got stuck with the 200 dollar sale barn horse with funky skin, and funky conformation, and not registered, and would never take me to a breed show.

But you know what? I did buy an off the track TB that my husband was breezing. I bought him for 750 dollars. I rode that horse for about 8 months. We went to some dressage shows and did some hunter shows. We were in a jump off at an open show. I was so excited. I just sat there and the horse jumped. Good thing he had his eyes open, because mine were closed!! LOL

But anyway, I sold that horse to a Mother and a young daughter, as a starter horse. The TB gelding was then 6 years old and I sold him for 11,500. I never seem to hold on the the good ones. I always end up selling them and then getting in another project.

Right now I have Peanut, my kids' horse. You know I paid nothing for him from a horse trader, 375, and right now I wouldn't sell him for less than 5000. I love that horse.

I think more credit should be given to the riders in every discipline, who actually ride and teach their horses. Not just on there for the ride. I call those push button horses. Where you set the rider on the horse and just push the button and watch them go. :)

Hooray for cheap horses and three cheers for the trainers who find them and notice their potential and make them into high dollar horses!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to find out that I wasn't the only one who was... offended? by the statements made by Brittany Pozzi... that cheap barrel horses are a thing of the past. My family won't pay more then $2,500 for a horse, we rather bring them up by ourselves and have that satisfaction of knowing that "I" turned him into what he is. And when will we see her run one of her own raised babies? All the horses that she has qualified and won the World on, were trained by someone else! All I hear is she wants to be known as a great Barrel racer and trainer... well lets see one of your own trained horses at the NFR... til then she has yet to earn my respect...