Robin Weaver has built a small but successful barrel horse program by selectively pairing the genetics of top stallions with the best mares she can find.
Spend any time in the barrel racing community, and you’ll hear about Robin Weaver’s marvelous horses. From KN Fabs Mist Of Fame to RR Mistakelly to VQ Sucker Punch, Weaver’s stable is consistently winning. Even from just a handful of sires, her earnings as a breeder total more than $389,000. Her owner earnings have topped $1.15 million, according to Equi-Stat. But Weaver didn’t land on success by accident—careful research, the right crosses and correctly matching up horses and riders have led to her accolades.
Building the Program
Weaver’s father raised Standardbreds. Weaver started out doing 4-H and always ran barrels. As she got older, she specialized in the event and has always owned Quarter Horses.
“I love everything about them—disposition, personality, looks, speed,” Weaver said. “I just think they’re the coolest breed.”
When she started her barrel program, Weaver had one stallion, Squaw Sport Sox, who came from a good mare she had at the time. She didn’t yet do a lot of breeding until after she purchased KN Fabs Mist Of Fame (Frenchmans Fabulous x Mistys Dash Of Fame x Dash Ta Fame) from Kenny Nichols as a 2-year-old. The mare went on to win the 2012 Old Fort Days Futurity with Jolene Montgomery on board, and Weaver turned her gaze toward breeding more seriously.
“The money ‘Misty’ won allowed me that next year to buy an embryo out of her dam, Mistys Dash Of Fame, who is the most awesome broodmare,” Weaver said. “[Sired by Darkelly], that colt ended up being RR Mistakelly. I didn’t want a stallion because I’m really into mares, but I just thought I’m going to see if we can make it work. And that’s really the year I got started on breeding.”
—> Read more: All About Blue Hen Broodmare Mistys Dash Of Fame <—
“Mister” went on to win the 2017 Barrel Futurities of America World Championship Juvenile as a 3-year-old and dominated as a 4-year-old futurity colt in 2018, earning titles at the Kinder Cup Futurity and the Lance Graves International Futurity, among many others. He’s racked up more than $295,000 at press time, according to Equi-Stat.
Weaver says she doesn’t have a broodmare band, per se. Embryo transfer with top-notch barrel mares are key to Weaver’s breeding program.
“Obviously it’s a lot more expensive, but you can get babies out of those really nice mares and they can keep competing,” Weaver said.
Misty was the start of Weaver’s winning string. After winning Fort Smith, she won the 2012 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Finals Slot Race with Montgomery and is now a pro rodeo money earner and NFR qualifier with Cheyenne Wimberley. Misty has earned more than $206,000 at press time.
Weaver purchased VQ Sucker Punch from Jeff Varner as a yearling. The Dash Ta Fame gelding has been a great match with trainer Brandon Cullins. “Rocco” has $204,918 in Equi-Stat reported earnings. With Cullins he’s won the 2016 Old Fort Days Super Derby, the BFA World Championship Derby twice, and qualified several times to RFD-TV’s The American Semifinals and The American Final Four. He’s a pro rodeo money earner with Kassie Mowry and Wimberley and was part of Wimberley’s 2019 NFR fleet.
—> Check it Out: Brandon Cullins Training Videos <—
2017 BFA World Championship Futurity champion Folsom Prisoner, by Blazin Jetolena, and 2019 Better Barrel Races OKC Sweepstakes champion VQ Im Buzzed—Rocco’s full brother—also came from Varner—all out of the same mare, Honor This Nonstop. Weaver focuses on the mare’s impact when choosing her breeding crosses.
“I really believe in mare power— that’s always been my whole philosophy,” Weaver said. “Even before I was really breeding, I was interested in the mare side of it. The rest is a little bit of luck.”
Weaver has been dating team roper Tim Horton since 2007. He says her success comes from the top-of-the-line mares she’s breeding.
“She buys embryos from very good barrel mares,” Horton said. “I think that’s her secret. She’s not cross breeding with cow-bred horses. If the mare you’re breeding didn’t win something or produce something, I think you’re behind the eight-ball.”
Even with the luck she’s had, Weaver says the ups and downs of breeding horses can be challenging.
“Just sticking with it and not getting discouraged is the key,” Weaver said. “You’re going to have bad days, bad weeks and maybe even a bad year. You just have to keep going and don’t give in to the dayto-day frustrations.”
—> Read more: Brandon Cullins’ Nutrition Program <—
Making it Work
Despite having an incredibly successful program, Weaver does not live in horse country, which can make things difficult. She’s based in Mahaffey, Pennsylvania, where she owns her own business, Mahoning Outdoor Furnace. She bought the business in 2002 from her stepdad and has run it ever since.
“It’s a good balance, because when the furnace business is slow, the horse business is really going,” Weaver said. “And when the furnace business is hopping in the winter, things slow down a bit with the horses.”
Both Horton and Weaver balance full-time jobs and the horses of which they both are passionate about.
“She may not get to the barn to do anything till evening, but she’ll be there till 9 or 10 o’clock at night,” Horton said. “Instead of watching TV she’ll be at the barn doing something with those babies, handling them, or riding a horse.”
He says Weaver uses a feed recipe her dad developed for his Standardbreds and makes her horses’ wellbeing a priority.
“She takes really good care of her horses,” Horton said. “Every horse is turned out in their couple-acre paddock.”
Weaver houses actively competing horses at multiple locations with different trainers and keeps about 16 horses at home. Weaver’s friend, Kathy James-Ham in Ada, Oklahoma, keeps her recipient mares, foals them out and weans the foals. Once weaned, the babies go to Weaver’s barn in Pennsylvania until late in their 2-year-old year, when they’ll be sent to a trainer. Some of her older horses are also at her place, depending on where they are in their competition schedule.
Fellow Pennsylvanian Lawayne Graham breaks her colts and gets them started in the right direction.
“It’s important for them to get broke, have some time off to just be horses and then they can get ridden again,” Weaver said. “That’s the way it’s worked out well for me.”
Her competing horses are with several different trainers. Cheyenne Wimberley is currently running Misty and Rocco. She ran both at the 2019 NFR. Wimberley says Weaver’s horses were winners long before she got with them in early 2019. But she holds much admiration for their talent and success, and she’s helped season them to rodeos.
“Her horses win,” Wimberley said. “You can call it luck of the draw, but when you have multiple winners, she obviously puts her horses in the right hands at the right time. Every owner hopes that will happen, but for some, it doesn’t happen that way.”
—> Read more: Cheyenne Wimberley’s Keys to Success <—
Wimberley says Weaver tries to match each horse with a jockey the horse might be the most successful with. That time, money and research appears to be paying off.
Misty is now 12 and has had a huge career. Wimberley enjoys working with her.
“Misty is just real determined,” Wimberley said. “She’s got a hard work ethic, and she shows up for her job every day. She gives you everything she has no matter what.”
Rocco has a mischievous personality, laughs Wimberley.
“He knows his job is to run barrels, and that’s what he’s been taught,” Wimberley said. “He shows up for that every day. But he has a bit of a funnier personality than Misty. He’s the class clown.”
Some of the top-class riders who have ridden Weaver’s horses include Brandon Cullins, Jolene Montgomery, Ryann Pedone, Emma Abbott, Ivy Conrado-Saebens, Kassie Mowry, Kelly Conrado and Wimberley.
Weaver has a hard time choosing which horse’s accomplishments are most meaningful to her.
“I’m really proud of how Mister did, running as a stallion and doing that well,” Weaver said. “That’s probably the proudest thing. He was the first one I bred, and having him do so well means a lot. I’m also very proud of the 2017 BFA. My horses, with Brandon Cullins riding, won all three titles that year—RR Mistakelly won the juvenile, Folsom Prisoner won the futurity and VQ Sucker Punch won the derby for the second time.”
Weaver is looking forward to the future of a filly by Mister and out of Honor This Nonstop, born spring 2020.
Her focus now is breeding good mares to Mister, hoping for good colts. She wants him to be a good producer. Although she only breeds two or three horses of her own each year, RR Mistakelly is standing to the public at Brazos Valley Equine Stallion Station in Salado, Texas.
“The staff at Brazos Valley do a great job with him,” Weaver said. “I would like to get him proven as a sire, not just as a performer.”
This article was originally published in the May 2020 issue of Barrel Horse News. Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.