“We were all hoping he would be a household name,” said Schulz, who was planning to take a shot at qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo until Cajun’s illness became evident.
Cajun began his career at local jackpots in the fall of 2007. He placed twice at the BFA World Derby, once with Schulz in 2008 and her sister Jennifer Crawford, who rode the gelding most of 2009 due to Schulz’s pregnancy. He also swept the 1D at the lucrative Elite Barrel Racing Productions races in Waco in 2010.
“He loved Waco,” said Schulz. “He did really well at the circuit finals there too.”
In 2010, Cajun carried Schulz to the Texas Circuit Rookie of the Year and the Texas Circuit Finals.
“Before I went to the circuit finals, I made the decision that if I didn’t win it and qualify for the National Circuit Finals, I would turn him out for 2011 to concentrate on the toughest year of dental hygiene school,” said Schulz. “I would resume running him once I finished school in May 2012.”
In 2012, Cajun ran a 16.985 on a standard pattern at the ANHA Shootout in Waco and won the Open 1D again at the November Elite race there as well.
This year the plan was to get enough money won to qualify for the lucrative winter rodeos in order to have a shot at NFR qualification.
“I got hired by a really awesome dentist and he was all gung ho for me taking time off,” Schulz said. “All the cards were laying out good, and all of sudden he started feeling off.”
After looking into all possible injuries and diseases and trying every treatment for Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis available, Cajun failed to receive a definitive diagnosis or respond to any therapies. He’s currently residing comfortably at home.
“He doesn’t know that he can’t run, buck and play, and that scares me a little bit,” said Schulz, who raised Cajun, who is by PC Dox Cajun out of Lady Bug Bug, a granddaughter of Bugs Alive In 75. “I turn him out when he seems OK. He eats grass and plays with the other horses over the fence.”
Schulz and her family were sure that Cajun was destined for great things. He had won a lot in a short amount of time with very limited hauling—running just three years with Schulz and one year with Crawford—and was always a force to be reckoned with at the tough Texas jackpots.
“The thought of never swinging a leg over Cajun again sends me into tears every time,” said Crawford. “He’s an extreme athlete and gave me great confidence. He brought back my love of rodeo. I try not to think that Cajun defines me or Kay Lynn, but the truth is he has. Going to rodeos and barrel races is not the same without him.
“On a lighter note, I can proudly say he’s never bucked me off, unlike Kay Lynn. I’ve never laughed so hard as when I watched him buck her off.”
Although Schulz grew up on the back of a horse and competed at an early age, she said the NFR was never her dream…until Cajun came along.
“He showed me what it is like to have a horse with heart, desire and love of the sport,” she said. “Every great horse has that special thing in their persona that sets them apart from the rest and Cajun has it.
“Before I would run, Jennifer would always ask, ‘How are you?’ I would say, ‘I am about to throw up!’ He made me so nervous because I knew that if anything went wrong in the arena, it was my fault. He runs and tries so hard with every step that all I had to do was hang on. Once you sent him down the alley—and the faster the better—he was all business. From the beginning he wanted to be great and that is something that cannot be taught. A great horse has no trainer, just a passenger to share the ride with. For that I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be there with him.”