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Back in the Saddle Again!!!

Hey folks, Les Vogt here, thought I would fill in the blanks, I’m so proud that I started riding again, last Thursday. I rode Thursday night, I do have to admit I was fairly tentative, not being on a horse in 9 weeks after my back surgery, but it came together really quickly. The thrilling part was my young horse, my 3 year old for this year that will be purchased by Lori Adamski Peek in a week or two. Well Cody Mora, my protege, has been riding this colt for me. I’ll tell you Cody could not have done a better job.
He didn’t speed this colt up particularly anywhere, kept him from going fast in fact, but put such strong fundamentals on him and made him so light, and so feely, and had so much body control on him, it is just amazing. I told Cody going in, I said “Cody if you can just get this colt moving right for me and make it a pattern of habit for him, the rest is an easy thing for me to deal with. I can put the rest on real easy.” But the fundamentals as you have heard me say many times before are by far the most important part. That’s your baseline, the net you fall in when you have trouble a year from now. It’s all about fundamentals.

Cody dedicated a lot of skill, art form, talent, all the right words – I can’t say enough good things. Cody did one heck of a good job and nobody could have done any better for me than Cody did. It was really exciting for me to get on this colt Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

I really like this colt; he’s thrilling until I get on Sparky (my futurity horse from last year). Sparky is like a magic carpet ride, I’ve just never been around a horse like Sparky, let alone ride one. Sparky is the dream deal, he’s totally amazing in just the way he acts when you’re around him. He’s tuned into you, everything, whether it’s up close or at a distance, when you ride him. When I got on Sparky he acted like I’d been riding on him the whole time. He was a little laid back but I laid him up for 3 months. I hadn’t ridden, or been on his back since the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity. So he had quite a vacation, something I hadn’t done before. He’s a little more mature, stronger, perfectly sound, he’s anxious to do things for me in a really controllable way. I can’t express the feelings that riding horses like I’ve had the opportunity to ride, its overwhelming, it’s a very passionate situation in where you get to do what you love the most and hopefully get paid for it down the road, but that’s secondary.

Sparky is incredible, I’ve ridden him 3 times, feels like he’s ready to show. I’m going to show him at Red Bluff which is a smaller derby and that will be at the end of February. Then the Monday – Tuesday following the derby, I have a semi-private clinic in Corning, California for Gretchen Salstrom and Craig Boyd. Of course I take a rope horse.

Speaking of roping, I had been really tentative with my roping, since I had been hurting for a while when I roped – before my operation. The first three strides out of the box always meant excruciating pain throughout my back and legs, so it broke focus on what my job was, which was roping. Friday I backed into the box for my first steer, by golly I felt weird, and I didn’t know why. About the second stride out of the box it clicked in my mind. My subconscious was concerned about the pain, but the pain didn’t exist. I roped flawlessly. I only ran three steers because my mare was perfect, I was just as good as I could rope, hammered three steers! I knew it had to get worse so I quit.

So my goal was to jump right out and go to a really good roping in Paso Robles yesterday. The last one of those I went to, the ropings I was interested in entering didn’t happen until 4 or 5:00 in the afternoon. So I thought if I got there at 2:00 I would be fine. I got a call at noon, I was just loading up my horses, and they said it was too late, that I was missing the roping.

I’m so happy, don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’ve got to be one of the happiest guys on the planet. No pain, good horses, life is good. So even though I didn’t get to rope, and I got a traffic ticket on my way up to the ranch, darn it… which should kind of ruin a guy’s day. Not mine, I went out and I rode my colts and I rode about two hours on each one, just doing slow stuff. Very productive, very gratifying day. I turned a day that was a little off centered into a really good one; it’s all in your mind. It’s what you let bother you that bothers you; it’s a skill you have to learn.
One of the sentences my dad said years ago was “It’s never as bad as it seems at first”. So I got a traffic ticket, missed the roping, I kept my chin up and thought I’m going to have a good day anyway. And I did, I really did. Life has its ups and downs, and with some of that you learn that none of those downs – at least at this point in my life – have really changed my life to the point to where I don’t feel good about it. I don’t have cancer, I’m not in a horrible car wreck, I don’t have anything really wrong, everything in my life is really pretty good. I thank God for it, and even went to church. I don’t do that as often as I would like to, because I’m always a little busy.

Anyways, long story short, things are good, I’m back in the saddle, can’t wait to show! I’ve been watching the derby in Texas, on the internet and I’m all fired up. I’m going to go and try and kick some butt in Red Bluff and from there I’ll go to Queen Creek, Arizona, for the Snaffle Bit Stakes. I’ll take my young horse and take one rope horse. Hopefully I’ll have time to lay over and go to a few ropings. Life is good; I don’t know what else I could want right now.
Clinics are filling up fast, if anyone feels like they want to host a clinic, be sure and get a hold of me. My contact info is on the website and I’ll have clinics posted next week.

Thanks for reading and have a good day!

Hi Folks! I have to apologize for the delay between my blogs, but I had back surgery.  They fused two vertebras and did something else to two others, then added rods, nuts and bolts and whatever else they could find to through in there too. It got so complicated when the Dr. was telling me what he was doing that I told him that it didn’t really matter, I didn’t care how he had to do it, just to fix it! My Dr. is J. Patrick Johnson – he’s a friend from the Rancheros Vistadores Club that I belong to. He’s a Montana Cattle Rancher and Stock Contractor. He has bucking horses and bulls at the National Finals Rodeo, and in his spare time he’s one of the best Spine and Brain Neurosurgeon’s in the country so they say.  I believe it.  So on November 21st I had my surgery. Now its’ getting close to 2 months along, and I’m feeling really good!  I’m a little sore now ant then, but maybe he’ll let me ride in a month or so, and at least I’m pain free and totally energetic, it has really changed my life and I appreciate the capacity these fine guys have.

So while I was recovering from the big surgery, I’d been down and not really in the mood to do a blog – not much really to talk about. But here we go I’m back in the groove now.

Horse show wise, 2011 was a really fast year for me, and it was really fun!  It started at the California Rodeo in Salinas and showed Turbo in the Hackamore class and was champion there.  With 20,000 screaming people at the same time all the World’s Champion Rodeo Cowboys are competing in the adjacent pen to the Cowhorse pen. It’s about as exciting as it gets, it’s the big deal.

Then went on to the Paso Robles Snaffle Bit Futurity, I finished ½ point from the lead for Reserve Champion with Sparky, my wonder horse.  Then I took him to Reno and a lot of you saw him there. That Sparky has his own fan club; he’s got more fans than I do for sure. He deserves them, he’s as good as it gets. He was riding in the top end of Reno all the way along. In every section he was at the top or near the top, we finished up either 6th or 7th, not sure. Sparky won between $55 – $60,000 for Luke and I between the two shows so we made our entry fees this time!  Turbo has had a pretty lucrative year as well.

Somebody told me the other day, they said, Les, every time you get a new horse, you say it’s the best one you ever had. I thought about that, the truth of it is, as you become older, more seasoned, and get more wisdom, you become a better horseman.  So consequently you’re supposed to have a better horse every time if the horses are good horses. You’re capacities are higher so that makes it look like your horses are better year. That’s the way I feel about Sparky, he’s as good as any horse I have had for sure, but my capacities, dedication and commitment to make him what he could be and maximize this horse’s capacity were 100% and I felt like I rode better than I ever had; not because I’m more athletic, but because I know more about it. That’s exciting and fun.

In November I went to Utah and gave a clinic for my great friend James Dixon, in the Moab, Utah, very beautiful, all the rocks are giant, with peaks that holes in them that look like needles. That’s where they filmed the movie Thelma and Louise. Red Cliff Lodge where we hold the clinic is a 5-Star Resort – it is just a class act. We do a clinic there every year and this year was very special. I made a couple of really good friends there – Lori and Kathryn, they’re both Park City residents and I hope that they will be friends forever.  These gals came to the clinic and it couldn’t have been any more fun, I tell you, I really enjoyed working with them. They are both fine and rare people.

Then I came home, had the Creston California 4-H Club over, I was happy to work with them. We had a bit lecture and taught all these people about bits and spurs, and a lot of things that I wished I had learned when I was their age.

Then I was operated on November 21, so through all of December I’ve been recouping at home. It’s quite a reality check when you live by yourself and all of a sudden you’re helpless, you can’t even roll over in bed.  And you think who is going to take care of me, and you really hate to ask anybody to give up their life style and daily work to help you. Then out of the blue, it’s funny how that happens, some really rare people and great friends stepped up to help me out:  Mary Jane, Beth, Jamie and Glenda. Those gals came and took care of me, and I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Here we are now, it’s the first of the year, and I’m booking new clinics, so anybody that’s interested, I’ll probably have some open dates.  I’m sitting at the table with all these papers in front of me, I’m about to put them together like a jig saw puzzle. So if you’re interested in hosting a clinic, you’ll want to be sure to get in touch with me at 805-343-9205.

Sparky is getting fat; he’s waiting for the next event. He’s kind of a cash cow now – he wants to go win some to win some money somewhere, you can tell just by looking at him.

I just found out about a little derby in Red Bluff and it might be alright, not sure yet.  The entry fees is $1500 and take away pay is $12,000 if you win.  That means you are paying more than 10% of what you could win for your entry fees – compared to Reno where you pay $2000 entry fees to win $100,000. The percentages aren’t really there, so maybe we’ll just go for fun, we’ll see.

In Arizona, the middle of March is the Snaffle Bit National Rein Cowhorse Stakes in Queen Creek, Arizona. If my back heals up in time which I’ll know pretty soon, I’ll load up my ponies and go to Arizona to go to the Queen Creek Stakes and rope for a week or two as well. That would be my dream, who knows if that would happen or not.

The Fast Time Bits are quite a subject these days.  Fast Time Bits are a speed event bit. There are 6 different bits and they’re calculated to really create a better horse performance and control. They give you the tools that a high performance competition speed event needs. So if you get a chance, take a look at my website for the Fast Time Bits, and believe me they really do work.  I sold 140 of them in 5 days at the ACTRA Roping Finals.

The most exciting thing in my life today, is that I bought a 2 year old; he turned 3 at the first of the year, a full brother to Sparky. He looks a little like Sparky but he’s a lot prettier, a little bigger. This horse is an eye catcher, he’s a show stealer. I bought him to keep, then when I had the back operation I decided that I don’t need to keep him, I will take him and show him for whomever. I’ve got a couple of people interested maybe; he’s a big time deal. Cody’s riding him for me, so I go and help every day or two.

Then I’ve also got to sell one other that I hate to get rid of and that’s Millie. Many of you know Millie from the Cow Horse U programs where she was a star!  She’s now 11 years old, and a really nice bay mare.  I’ve roped on her for 4 years, plus when she was younger I showed in her the Snaffle Bit Futurity where she got a check in the herd work and frisky in the dry!  She works a cow really good and she makes anybody look like a star. Plus she’s really gentle.  I put a boy on her a couple of days ago – she hasn’t been ridden in 3 months – and I asked him to gallop her off.  It was like he had been riding her every single day, not a hot bone in her body, she’s as sweet as they get. She had some problems a few years back with her front end but I haven’t seen sign of any problems lately and I’ve used her a lot – but since I don’t know what we’d see in an x-ray these days I’m only asking $3,000 for her – which will be a heck of a deal for someone – so call me if you’re interested! I pasted a picture of her below.

I’ve just got to trim the fat and get rid of a few horses.  I don’t mind riding them, but since I’m working on my own when I’m home, by the time I go and saddle 5-6 horses in one day,  put leg boots on them, then ride them, then unsaddle them, it just takes too much time!

So anyways folks I hope all of you had a happy new year – stay healthy and good luck!

If you’re not fan of our LesVogt Facebook, you’d better join up as my New Year Resolution is start posting to it more often.  Make sure you’re on the main page (http://www.facebook.com/LesVogt)  though as that’s were I’ll be looking for you.Image

August Update

We had one of the top scores in the reined work!

Well folks happy to be able to visit with you here, sounds like I don’t do it enough for some of you.  It’s been a really fast and busy summer, working very hard to perfect my skills and my horse’s abilities to try to maximize their capacities. I’m really putting my all into it and it’s paying off. We work really hard every day to perfect new techniques, ideas, concepts and add them to our program if they prove to be good.  We are really on the cutting edge, maybe the bleeding edge, with our training program.  Some of the stuff we do doesn’t really work very well, but boy, there is a lot that does and that’s the stuff we keep and I share with you at my clinics.

We went to the Snaffle Bit Futurity at Paso Robles, last week and my little Sparky had a great show – in fact going into the fence work we were in the lead of almost 100 riders!  Unfortunately I drew a cow that didn’t give me a chance to really show him off, so we ended up a half point behind my good friend Jake Gorrell  at the end.  Sparky really worked hard for me and I couldn’t be happier with his performance!  He feels like a real show horse – like he almost gave me more in the show pen that he does at home and you can’t ask for more than that.   So now we’re desperately trying to buy some slots for the Snaffle Bit Futurity! Usually never a problem this time of year, but for some reason this year they are few and far between!

Another big thing that happened lately is that I showed my 5 year old Hackamore horse at the Salinas Rodeo, a 20 horse class, and we WON! That made my 21st win at the Salinas Rodeo which is more than anybody else.  They do the finals in front of the grandstands during the rodeo right out there on the track.  To win at Salinas is pretty exhilarating. You can feel the electricity from the 20,000 fans. People even follow you out of the stands to congratulate you!  It makes you feel like it’s a really big deal, never gets old. The conditions are tough, the ground is bad, you’re on a track, the cattle are usually wild and don’t manage real well. You’re next to the rodeo arena which is real western in itself, you never know if a broncing bull or roping steer or something might hit the fence on the opposite side of the wall just before you get ready to turn your cow going 30 mph. Everything changes there, you can’t make a game plan, you just have to be reactive and you have to really go for it.  Its real gratifying to beat the kids, so I’m pretty proud of that win, it put me on a roll.

It’s funny, Turbo’s registered name is Nic it and Sparky’s name is Nic it Smartly, so I have two Nic Its, and at school they’re both wonderful. Sparky’s been the most fun horse I’ve trained in my life, he’s so ready to show it makes me real concerned.  It makes feel like I should do something, but anything that I do now would be wrong I’m sure, because he’s ready now!

The other day I went to the hospital too.  About 3 weeks ago something bit me on the elbow, a bug or something, and it was just a small bump, didn’t amount to anything for two and half weeks. Then I bumped it on the fence, not too hard, but it must have activated the poison or whatever was in there, because I got a pretty bad staph infection overnight!  I thought if I put some ice on it, it would go away.  But someone said to me that they had a friend that died from something like it, so I went and they put me in the hospital. They found that it was some sort of infection that was resistant to most medications but they found something that worked on me. They wanted me to stay for a few days, but I told to do what they could, because unless it was life or death, I had to go ride, so we came to an agreement. So they agreed to let me out the next day.

I went to see my friend Luke Jones in Iowa to help him with his horses, he has some good horses.  He has five Snaffle Bit Futurity horses this year that are all good enough to win. I expect Luke to be a star this year.

Now this is a very touchy time of year, more horses are ruined or crippled at this time of year than any other time of the year, so you’re suppose to have them broke ready to go by June, July at the latest.  If you don’t you have to do something very different, like get rid of them. If you have your horses ready, then it’s no big deal if you’re smart enough to let them cruise.

I had some fun at a clinic I gave in New York, very nice people and had nice horses.  Barry and his wife were wonderful hosts. I got to see the Erie Canal on the Hudson River, and a lot of very interesting stuff.

I went to a family reunion in Lake Tahoe, really enjoyed that, there were about 46 people, all related, a lot of younger ones, I didn’t know before, but got to at this reunion.

Also I’ll be looking for help at the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity.  We have two helpers already but we would like to have one more. There’s no wages, but we need someone to help clean stalls, groom horses, saddle and unsaddle the horses, so if you want to come to the futurity and have something to do, let me know. If we have 3 helpers no one will be stressed. If you are interested, please contact me at 805-343-9205.

That’s about it, watch for me and the results.  Thanks for reading!

Hi folks, I hope you enjoy reading my blogs as much as I enjoy doing them.  I use them to express myself in a lot of ways just pass my thoughts along to you; I hope you understand that some of the things I say are just my opinions.  They’re based pretty much on what I’ve learned or read or what I’ve done.

First thing I want to talk about, a week before last I went to see my friend Dean Tuftin’s ranch in Bend Oregon for a private clinic. This clinic was set up by one of the world’s greatest team ropers, Marty Becker, again another really wonderful friend. At Dean’s I was to help him design and learn about how to apply a really good working horse program as far as creating rope horses that could go either way – that is, they could be great reining and cow horses or great rope horses.

He has quite a breeding program.  He has two main sires, one of them is a really good horse that’s by Shining Spark out of Miss Smarty Chex which I believe makes him a full brother to Smart Shiner that Carol Rose – he was real popular. Well I rode the Shining Spark and he’s really great, a nice size, a pretty horse, and he can do a lot of magic things.  You wouldn’t particularly pick him for a rope horse unless you had the vision that Dean does.  He has Topsail Whiz mares and others of like quality. If you were designing a working Cowhorse or reining horse program you would probably be right on track with what Dean is doing, his horses can go either way. He wants to have access to the knowledge to allow him to create horses that can go either way, not to mention, these horses are simply gorgeous.  I mean the prettiest bunch of horses I’ve seen.  They’re flawless!  Just sweet –  the kind of horses a trainer like me would love to have to go show.  Dean wants a 5-star deal.

His ranch is second to none that I’ve seen in the United States.  I’ve been to a few Thoroughbred farms in Lexington and Kingsland, Kentucky, and I’ve never seen one as nice and certainly not one as well designed. These horses have a wonderful home.  Dean is absolutely wonderful, he’s really accomplished, he’s a fine gentleman, and you would never have dreamed that he had access to some of the things he does or is who he is. Two of his accomplishments are that he was Country Music Singer/Songwriter of the year for Canada, (he’s Canadian and has dual citizenship).  He had a chance to go on in Nashville, and decided that it was not his direction, but is very successful and in high demand.   Dean is in his 40’s and his next goal was to win a World’s Team Roping Championship, so he connected with Speed Williams and rodeo’d for a number of years.  He rode hard for at least three years that I know of and he almost won as a World’s Championship Heeler – he was second by a narrow margin.  He had set a goal for himself, but he also gave himself a deadline, so when he reached it he quit, but he didn’t quit roping by any means.  He’s an A+ player, but he didn’t want to go down the road any more. He has a very nice family, two young daughters and a nice wife.

If I’ve talked a lot about Dean, well you’re right! He’s easy to talk about. He’s the kind of fellow that once you meet him you instantly like him, he’s very unassuming, generous and a very  busy guy, of all the instructors I’ve had, Dean actually took more time, he videoed, explained what he wanted me to do and sure tried to shape up my heeling and fine tune me. He’s a great teacher, a wonderful guy, and I can’t tell you how impressed I was with his horses.   Anybody looking for young horses to go either way, whether its rein cow horses or as a roper, Dean Tuftin has the nicest bunch of horses and he’s certainly on the right track, you’re going to hear a lot more about him. He’s going to make rope horses that could have been show horses depending on how he wants to get them trained. I had a fine time working with him and his team, everybody there was fun and enjoyable.  Maybe the best clinic I’ve ever had, couldn’t have been any better.

Then I came home for a few days, and on Memorial Day, got on the plane again and went back east, to Damascus Pennsylvania.   My friend Stuart Ryback  and his wife Liz, of Ryback Stables put a Cowhorse clinic on for me there and we had a really nice bunch of people.  The people in this clinic were like sponges, they really wanted information and absorbed it, treated me wonderfully. I stayed in an 1860’s Victorian style house that was turned into a bed and breakfast, they kept it as it originally was, and the wood had been well preserved and painted. The porch had lots of rocking chairs and tables, with an overhang, and the home overlooked a pond. That area this time of year was like going to the magical garden, it couldn’t have been any prettier, and it was just gorgeous.  We had a great time, worked cattle and hopefully these people got what they needed they certainly got better as I saw them.

One of the subjects that I wanted to talk about today is a little bit touchy, that is the cost of showing horses these days and the motives that I have, and I don’t think I’m that much different than most people. The reason I want to show my horses is because I really enjoy training them, enjoying making a product that I’m really proud of in a way that’s really traditional: a super Cowhorse.  By the time a horse is trained, it’s become an extension of me, it’s my passion. I love my encounters with my horses every single day.  I sure look forward to it, it makes me smile and I play the radio loud on the way home while I eat my Fritos and drink my Gatorade and tap my toe all the way – riding is the high point of my day.

There’s nothing else that really seems to send me like that these days, so I need to ride these horses, that’s just what makes me tick. Not just to ride but to school, communicate with them and try to create something that’s just as good or better than the next guy, something I’m proud of. So of course you would like to go and exhibit your horse and there’s some regional clubs with entry fees that are fairly low, and Quarter Horse shows and the same thing applies, and both of these types of shows are flourishing.  Regional shows around here, like Valley Cow Horses, have shows that start at 7-8am and go until dark and they can’t finish at that.  They’re overwhelmed, just overloaded with entries. Why? Entry fees are low, $100 or under.

So my goals are to show my horses, visit a little and to have fun.   Just showing the horse that I’ve developed over years, and maybe getting some prestige, recognition and satisfaction as a result. So having done what I’ve done and been where I’ve been, it’s fun to go to the lower level shows. But I also like to play hardball and go to where the competition is for sure.

Well the National Reined Cow Horse Association, as I understand it has a membership that kind of flexes between 2800-3200 (this figure comes from the staff at the Association office). My wife, when we were married in the 70’s, was the secretary.  She didn’t get paid, but we didn’t have any other employees either, and she did a newsletter too.   It wasn’t as fancy as this one we have now, but it had all the right information and the club seemed to have a lot of money.  The entry fees were lower and we had a lot of weekend shows, with $100-$200 entry fees.  All the good ole boys, the guru’s, the heroes of the day, they all showed up every week and we had a lot of fun.

At this point, people like myself, who own their own horse, they pay their own entry fees and expenses, there are other clubs that are flourishing. Average person want so to have fun for a reasonable price.  There are other groups that seem to keep the prices down, and they are flourishing in terms of participation, and the events pay well because more people participate

Roping the entry fees are much lower and there are probably 150,000 ropers.  The team penners and  team sorter groups are really flourishing, even in tough economic times. Then we have the mounted shooters – as I understand it the association I read about has only been active for 3 years and they have as many members as the National Reined Cow Horse Association.  We just seem to be stuck.  People are very interested, I deal with them every week, but the bottom line is that most of them cannot afford to play.

Here is what it costs me this year so far to show – let’s talk about this if you were the average customer and what kind of money you have to invest to play in the major NRCHA or NSHA shows.   These are pretty close to the real numbers as I took them off the entry blanks. I paid $2900 all-in for the Hackamore Classic in Paso Robles.  I was lucky there.  I didn’t have a very good show, but I won my entry fee back.  So for the Classic – $2900; The Derby – $3200 (which was cancelled but I had to send in the fee one week after I came home from the Classic); then a week ago I got a letter with an entry blank for the Paso Robles Pre-Futurity (that’s the National Stock Horse Association)  for $4336.

The Classic and Derby entry fees were for one horse, and the Pre-Futurity was for two horses.  Then you add the Paso Robles Derby which is at the same time as the Pre-Futurity an there’s another $1968.  Add the Reno Futurity and for my two snaffle bit horses, it’s $7180 including stalls; then on top of that I have $1522 plus a finals fee for the Reno Hackamore Class.  So far that already comes to over $21,000!

Now I don’t get it, we pay in those entry fees, then between $34-47 for a video fee, (however if we buy a video we don’t get any credit and the video could cost $100 or more, so I’m trying to understand where that $47 goes). Then we have an $8 National Rein Cowhorse Association fee, but I’m fine with that.

Then we have the stalls.  At Paso Robles (where a high percentage of these shows are) when Igo to a lot of ropings there, and we pay about $30-35 per stall. Then a week later, we go to a major horse show there, we’re supposed to pay $175 for exactly the same stall.  Wow!  Then at the Reno Futurity we have a tack room fee of $250 too! And here’s one I really don’t understand, this is a pet peeve: some of these shows, like the Paso Robles National Stock Horse Association, they charge $35 to plug in my live-in trailer, or if I just haul in and haul out it costs $15 per day for a haul in fee, you don’t really get anything for this fee, except I guess a parking space.

These entry fees I just spoke about are for only four shows, and I don’t pay any trainer fees since I do my own. Then my own expenses are going to be anywhere’s from $6-7,000 by the time I do all of this, so I’m going to be close to $30,000 in to it before I’m done. The motive I have for showing my horses is not for the money, but with the money that’s’ involved to do it’s stressful!  You pay all that money in fees, and if you miss a lead, or you draw bad down the fence, any micro mistake as tough as these classes are, then you’re done, you might as well load up and go home. Your $3,000 entry fee is adios baby, it’s gone.

I can only imagine how someone feels who’s paying a trainer and trainer fees too! And then if you do win something you have to split it with the trainer as well.  The average person, even if they’re pretty well to do, is going to start wondering if it’s really worth seeing that kind of money disappear out of their bank account!

With that kind of stress, the average guy just can’t afford to play. I can’t really afford it but I’m going to do it just because I have some good horses and I want to.  But I’m always stressed about the whole situation because there’s so much at stake.  I’m rolling some big dice and that’s not why I started doing this when I was a kid. I started doing it because I love the sport. We’ve clipped the wings of a lot of people who love the sport, because they just can’t afford to play. If we had lowered entry fees, the prestige would still be the same, the champions would still get saddles, buckles, etc., but we would not pay the high, high entry fees.  I guess I’m out of line and everybody else is right.

Well anyways, thanks for listening! I thought I would put in my two cents, just remember this is just all my opinion but it’s based on a life time.

Hackamore Classic and more

Hello folks! It’s May 18th, it should be the time of year that the sun should be shining but we’re still getting rain.

The news is, I showed Turbo at the Hackamore Classic.  Turbo was really good and he did his best, he’s such a good horse, he’s easy to show and I enjoy showing him.  Coming out of the herd and had one good cow and two cattle that weren’t too good and he still marked well, and was in the hunt – landing in the top 10 of the whole open division. In the reined work, he was really good in the circles and I thought we should have marked better than we did in that category.  I felt that he gave it up a little, not much toward the end of the rein work as far as going to the bottom of his stops.  And the same thing happened down the fence, he was good but not as good as he could be. I had him checked out, his hocks and everything else were great, but his sacroiliac was sore, so we took care of that, and Turbo is better than ever.  So we placed at the Hackamore Classic and we got our money back.

The entry fee there including my stall about $2,800 – $2,900, it’s a steep hill to climb, to lay out $2,900 for a weekend show even though it does pay fairly well, I’m not really sure, but to just win the open it pays about $15,000-$16,000, but if you draw a bad cow,  you lose that $2,900. Maybe I’m old fashion, I don’t see the point, I thought this was about tradition, preservation, creating a really nice horse and having the time and the place to show it, so that people who like really nice horses could watch us. However, it’s gotten totally out of hand and we’re losing a lot of participants, who can’t afford the $2,900 that I spent.   So I came home from the Hackamore Classic, winning just about as much as I spent – then I took that same money and foolishly added $300 to make $3,200 and entered the Derby which is on June 14th in Paso Robles, California. 

Had I lost that money at the Classic, I sure wouldn’t be able afford throwing $3,000 for weekend fun. For that money I can go anywhere in the world and have a nice weekend!  However, being me, I chose to roll the dice again, the way it works is I basically gave Turbo $3,000, and I told him as long you’re a good horse and you keep winning it back or making some money then that’s great.  If he gets the breaks I know he’ll win more than that, but without the breaks, there is no horse that can win.  If you draw badly or something happens like the horse slips and falls, one thing or another, then you lose all your money.  Soon as Turbo’s  $3,000 is gone if it ever is, then Turbo is strictly a rope horse except for some of the good weekend deals, such as the $350 entry fee at the Salinas Rodeo.   There I can usually get him in and out in one day and I’m able to win over $3,000. I think the better deal is Salinas.

The Reined Cowhorse Association which has changed so much in the past 10-15 years and with these high entry fees, a good part of the California people who used to partake in the Reined  Cowhorse events, they don’t do it anymore -they’re doing something else that they can afford!  But Turbo and I are going to the Derby and see how we do.

I went to the Rancheros Visit adores  ride recently too –  that is 1,060 guys and their horses and then another 1,000 others that are there as guests, cooks, camp hands, wranglers, bartenders, so it’s a really well done ride, a lot of fun. I took Gary Brooks, Andrew McArthur and Mitch Jacobs as guests; they had no idea what they were in for. The funniest thing I saw was that one of the camps did a skit on American Idol, they of course had someone acting as Simon, had guys dressed up like girls auditioning, and oh my gosh, it gets close to rank at times, they’re a fun group – the boys will be boys.  While we’re there we do some cutting, some reining, throw horseshoes, shoot trap, we even have a cannon shoot.  We team rope a lot and there is a fun event going on all the time throughout the six days.  You find yourself getting tired by the end, but you get to visit with really worthwhile inspirational people that have a lot of character.  I very much enjoy my Ranchero friends and feel blessed to have the opportunity to be part of the group.  I’ve been going for 38 years now.

I did pretty good at roping at the Rancheros, and believe it or not I’ve placed in 4 ropings in a row.  Hey, I think that I am a roper now. Maybe I should quit my day job – no more clinics! Just pick up my rope, put my horse in the trailer and head on down the road – nope, not quite yet.  I’m getting it together and having fun doing it.  I’ve had nothing but the best teachers and tutors on pretty much a daily basis.  I’ve had some world champions and some great guys helping me for about 3 years, and it’s finally sinking in.

My Futurity colts are really coming along good. Sparky my little bay horse, I think he’s a winner.  He’s just got the attitude and ability and the charisma, the appearance and he’s styling.  He does things other horses can’t do and he does many things that you can’t teach a horse to do. He’s freaky in a really good way and that’s what it takes to do well there. I’m not sure how many years I want to do this futurity thing so I hope it works really well for me.  In other words there are a lot of other things I plan on doing. If you’re going to do futurity horses you have to dedicate yourself, because you know if you’re not riding someone else is – and they’ll beat you!

Rango which is the Tomcat Chex is such a nice horse but he has a few little problems that I’m trying to get past and I’m sure he’ll be a really good horse.  I hope it’s in time for the futurity, he tries hard, he’s a speed horse, I mean he can run and get cattle!  We’ve been going down the fence a lot with these young horses lately.  Cody’s futurity horse is super cool, he’s a Dual Pep and I’m going to tell you that this one has the appearance and a way of moving, and he’s got style.  We’ve got some real nice horses this year.

The Double Dollar Team from Utah and I are coordinating in a partnership what we call High Team Bits for Ropers. They’re created specifically for rope horses, and they are a very different bit than has ever been in the roping arena. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about leverage position and it doesn’t seem like other bit makers really capitalize on that, but I really believe in it.  I’m very happy with the leverage positions, mouthpiece powers and the specific mouthpieces that we’ve come up with after two years of research. Our High Team Bits should be available for under $100 per bit. They’re classy looking, and we’ve tested them everywhere. They should be available July 1st, so anybody looking for a better bit than you got save your money so you can get one of these.  I don’t care what you’re riding with now, these are better for rope horses – they do some things other bits have never done.

Year end awards, please don’t forget, if anyone needs year end awards, as in custom mad bits or spurs, you need to contact me pretty soon so we can get them going.  I can make just about anything you want, the price of silver has gone up a little so that affects our prices, anyways we’re still plugging along.

Some more excitement! I leave on the 23rd for Redmond Oregon to work with Dean Tustin. Dean was 2nd in the world as a heeler at one time. He has a pretty unique rope horse breeding program.  He’s breeding rope horses that could be show horses as well, so he’s going with the top of our show horse lines and looking for the most durable ones and the ones with the most speed. He’s got a lot of them about 20 young horses, I’m going to work with Dean and his crew and get to know them and have a lot of fun roping, I’ll be there about 3 days and will really enjoy that.  So far I’ve worked with Speed Williams, Ricky Green and now Dean, I guess these guys must think I know some secrets, I hope that they’re not disappointed.  After I leave Dean’s I’ve got another one that is kind of interesting, I’m going to Damascus Pennsylvania, to do a clinic there. I have never been to Pennsylvania; I hope I enjoy it like people say I will.

Well that’s the update, thanks for reading!

Spring update

Hi folks!  Long time no speak, I’ve been just a little bit busy and having a lot of fun on top of that.  I’ve had a wonderful group of clinics early in the year; the only problem was it was cold everywhere I went, I think I picked the coldest places in the western half and some of the eastern states.  They were having some of their coldest weather, and I was there.

In March I was in Lubbock Texas, Suzie and that group put on a wonderful clinic, after that I went to Luke Jones’ in Iowa. Luke’s my really good friend, we worked together on his futurity horses last year.  I helped him at the futurity in Reno too, and he made the finals two different times.  We enjoy working with him.  From there, I went to Lyndon, Washington – what a facility they have, big, brand new beautiful climate controlled indoor arena, but of course the heat didn’t work very well, but we survived.  I about wore out my long underwear! I’ve learned to take them everywhere I go.

After Lyndon, I went to Yakima Washington, during the middle of March, Suzie and Roger Hart and their family put on the clinic, they’ve put on two a year for over 15 years.  I have no idea how Suzie does it, she fills them and she would over fill them past the maximum of 15 riders, (which is the most I like to have in a clinic), she sure would do it.  Suzie had a little medical problem to deal with this year, but she’s doing great and recovering, and she’s in great shape and will be with us for a long time.  That bunch is like family to me and I appreciate everything they have done and I hope to continue for a lot of years.

In April, I had planned a trip to Australia for the first half, they had such a huge drought for so many years, but then it rained so much, they got a little more than they were hoping for, that it flooded part of Queensland (which is where I planned to go) so we cancelled the trip for this year and hopefully we’ll make it there next year.   My friend Andrew McArthur, who is a funny, quick witted guy puts them on for me.

Then we went to Stillwater Oklahoma, for a clinic that Cheryl and Fran put on.  That was fun because we worked with team penners and team sorters there, and that was a new deal for me.  It was very interesting, good people, great facility and they all had really nice horses.

Turbo’s getting ramped up, he’s now my Hackamore horse, he was my Futurity horse,  he’s 5 now, and I have to say they sure change every year between age 2 and 5, you see huge changes.  As a 5 year old, he’s more of an adult horse, he’s more durable, stronger, has more energy and stamina and can do more, there’s just a lot more horse there.  I’ve got him ready to show in the Hackamore Classic put on by the National Rein Cowhorse Association, in getting him ready, I’m all about learning and teaching. On Wednesday of last week I loaded Turbo and my two Futurity horses and I spent Thursday thru Monday in Bakersfield, California at Sundance Feed Lot. My friend Robert Bias runs the feed lot and they have the finest facility you could ask for, big arenas with beautiful dirt for cutting and literally thousands of fresh cattle. I parked my live-in horse trailer there, he has stalls, and Doug Williamson lives right around the corner, so Doug and I got to work together.

Doug is about my age and I really respect him a lot, he’s been through the same storms, and it’s not all about what you learn to do, but also what you learn not to do.  So if you don’t do anything wrong, I guess you’re doing things right.  Over the years, Doug and I have been through a lot together, we have been good friends and becoming even better friends.  We are going to rope together at the World Series Final during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Nevada.  We roped and had fun.  He sure can rope; I couldn’t have a better partner.  Doug helped me work on my herd work (I think he’s the best) I feel a lot more confident now and I’m sure that Turbo does too.  So Turbo is pretty close to ready, he’s using himself pretty hard and I’m excited about showing him this weekend in Paso Robles at the Hackamore Classic.

I took my two Futurity horses, Rango and Sparky.  Sparky might weigh 8-900 lbs and Rango’s not much more but he’s gangly, he’s little and a great horse! He crawls around on cattle and has a low crouchy way to doing everything he sure can stop and doesn’t mind it. He’s very uncomplicated, and I really enjoy him.  The other horse is by Tomcat Chex, and I sure like the way he feels on cattle.  He’s more complex and can get difficult, but I think I can talk him out of his difficulties.  A lot of the best horses I have had were somewhat quirky and difficult, but these days I don’t feel like working so hard to achieve the results.  Now I’m into the easy horses like Sparky, hopefully Rango will come along.  I like them both a lot.

I’ve had some good experiences roping with Turbo, now that I’m healing with him. I haven’t been doing much of that in the last couple of weeks, just concentrating on using his energy to get ready for this show.

Guess what folks, Cody is getting married May 21st, that will be fun, and we’re all really excited. That’s right after the Rancheros Vistadores ride in the Santa Ynez Valley, which is May 6-12th, I go on that every year and have a great time. See people and make connections I couldn’t do anywhere else, a lot of wonderful people.  There are about a thousand guys who are members and thousand more waiting to be members and a thousand more waiting to take care of the guys who need taking care of, help take care of the horses.  There’s a lot people, horses and activity, we do everything from team rope, shoot canons, throw horseshoes, and a lot more fun activities.

Having said that, you’re pretty current on me. If you’re wondering why I haven’t said much about roping, well in my opinion it’s terrible right now and I have to do some work on it. I think I’ve abused my shoulder while practicing so much, but I’ll keep working on it.  I take LubriSyn for my shoulder on a daily basis, and I know it helps, it makes my shoulder better. I do give it to my horses, and I do feel it enhances their performance. If you’ve got a few more aches and pains than you’d like to have maybe you should try some too – we sell it on the website now.

I have my silver bit & spur business and I do a lot of awards for associations, if anyone is interested, give me a call at 805-343-9205.  If you have yearend awards, I can do most anything you may have in mind.

Also folks, don’t forget about my private clinics, I do about 6 of these a year.  Private clinics is where you come to the ranch and work one-on-one with me, we can work out the times that are best for you. We have the best facility here you could possibly ask for. If you’re interested and want to have fun, call me!

Thanks for reading this and I hope everyone has a great day!

Roping lessons with Rickey Green

Since my last blog I told you about the trip I was going to take to Texas to meet up with Rickey Green and Speed Williams, so here’s a quick update on what happened.  At Rickey and Kelly Green’s I met  with two bronc riders Casey Sisk and Cody Taton. Casey is leading the first round of the bronc riding at the Ft. Worth Rodeo, Taos Muncy the 2008 World Champion Bronc rider gave us a couple of tickets to the rodeo, that was  very interesting.

While I was at Speed Williams’ met my new friend Marty Becker from Oregon. Marty is riding one of the all time great heel horse’s named Chili Dog, Marty is really a good roper but most of all a gentleman and super nice guy with a lot of class. I look forward to our friendship in the future.

The day after the rodeo I went to watch the calf roping at the quarter horse show, which had 130 entries.  I had a great a visit with Robbie Schroder and his wonderful, wonderful wife Joan.  I had the pleasure of meeting their friend Tommy Houston, who is a legend in the quarter horse world, and cattle rancher. He’s been around a long time in the Weatherford area.

At the rodeo I bumped into my old friends Jake Rodriquez and Bob Tallman. Bob was the announcer and he was proud to exhibit his 2 grandkids who were the center of his conversation.

While  at Rickey Green’s, who did I see on the other side of the fence, well it was Clay and Brian Cooper’ s Rickey’s neighbor and friends mine for the last couple of years.

The trip was full of fun things and fun people.  I definitely learned to heel a little better, which is a pretty complex sport, it can either make you high or make you cry, but right now we’re having fun doing it.

Well that’s the update on my trip. Now I’m getting Turbo ready for the spring shows, not sure which ones yet. The Futurity Colts are getting better every single day and Cody and I are having a lot of fun.  Cody’s colt looks really good.

That’s it for now folks….