BHN: How is competing in a slot race different than competing in a futurity?

Mowry: I have this thing with second [place]; I’ve won second at almost every single slot race I’ve been to. I go at them a little bit differently; I try to peak my horse for that one run. I don’t do a whole lot of fast exhibitions or fast work before. I do all the slow work and baby work, and when I get there I pretty much let them roll and hopefully the training pays off. 

BHN: What does your normal slow-work routine on young horses consist of?

Mowry: I do a lot of things to get these colts as broke as possible. I have a certain way I break them, and I just really want them listening to me. I don’t ride them for a real long time, but when I get on them I ask that they do everything the first or second time I ask. For the one hour I’m on them, I don’t think it’s too much to ask out of them.

I want them really tuned in to me and really responsive. That way, when they go to make their first run out there for $100,000, they’re paying attention to me and not the crowd and signs and all the other things trying to get their attention. If they get in a bind, I want them to come back to me and let me help them.

BHN: To get them to listen to you, are you asking them to move off your legs?

Mowry: Definitely. I want them to move off my legs, and I want to move them off my hands with the slightest amount of pressure. It has to be so subtle a signal that somebody watching could barely see it. 

BHN: How do you make sure the horse will still respond to you when you’re running fast?

Mowry: Asking them the proper way and not asking them too much. If they do what I ask, then I don’t drill them on it; I don’t sit there and ask repeatedly. Instead, I’ll move on to something else. I think if they’re doing a maneuver correctly and you keep asking repeatedly, they think they’re doing it wrong. That’s why sometimes they feel real good at first but don’t feel as good the fifth or sixth time, especially stopping.

As far as the slow work, I really teach consistency. I want them to approach the barrel the same way every time, I want them to place their feet the same way so they don’t just go in there and scatter. They have to know exactly where to put their feet. I over-exaggerate everything when I’m doing slow work because it’s easier for me to control it and it gives them time to think about what they’re doing.

BHN: So, with your slot-race horses, do they get handled more through their run?

Mowry: When I send them out there, they’re running as fast as a rodeo horse. I don’t handle them a whole lot—they’re going off all that training, and they’re clued in on me and they’re going very confidently. They’re all very athletic and bred to run barrels, and that makes a big difference. When it’s easy for them and easy for you, it’s fun.

BHN: In your estimation, what’s the biggest test for your futurity horses during the futurity year?

Mowry: It’s tough to keep them together through the year, so it’s a challenge to have that same horse tuned in, willing to run, happy and sound for their final run at the end of the year for the BFA World Championship Futurity. It’s like a roller coaster ride—there are a lot of things you go through, they start getting nervous and they can come up with soundness issues.


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