I’ve never started a colt. I’ve never had a horse with such royal bloodlines. I never even thought I’d have the opportunity to own a horse with such potential standing right in front of me. Yet, here I am, bumbling my way around. And it’s actually kind of working.
By Blanche Schaefer, BHN associate editor
In May of 2017, I made a tough decision to temporarily retire my “heart horse” Molly, a wonderful 2D mare I’d had since 2011, due to her year-long battle with severe respiratory allergies and bleeding since we both moved to Fort Worth, Texas. A turn of fortunate and surprising events led to a search for my next horse.
Growing up, my family could never afford the jam-up 1D horses, and even if we could, I think my parents still would have rather I learned the hard way on the tough old ranch horses. Of course like everyone, I’d always dreamed of someday having a top-caliber horse to call my own. I’m not trying to qualify for the NFR or anything, but I’m a simple gal and just want to be able to enter pro rodeos, have a chance to place and not completely embarrass myself. I’ve also always wanted try the futurities. And now that I was horse hunting, we still absolutely didn’t have the budget to go buy a six-figure rodeo horse off someone’s trailer or a blueblood 3-year-old from a top trainer’s barn.
So, I began my search for a moderately priced and well-started 3-year-old I could put on the barrels myself and hopefully enter a few futurities next year. You know, a manageable entrance into that intimidating world of trainers and wealthy owners and horses I can’t afford and people with sponsors for a poor, young, regular ‘ol person with a day job who’d never ridden a colt, entered a futurity or had my name on AQHA registration papers.
But whoops, I fell in love with a 2-year-old who was pulled off a South Dakota ranch in early spring, sent to Texas and halter broke in April, and barely had 30 days under saddle by Memorial Day Weekend. And, uh, it also included the possibility of a (pretty expensive) surgery to remove a bone sequestrum in his right hind leg. After three days of driving back and forth for vet checks, X-rays and laying awake mulling over the decision, we signed the papers in the vet clinic parking lot and I brought him home. If anyone knows my family and me, this is a classic Schaefer purchase decision.
Maybe it was his sweet brown eyes, smoky buckskin coat, set of papers that gave me chills, natural movement and reaching stride when the trainer loped him out, or the way I couldn’t get him to walk a circle when I tried him and then he stepped on the end of the split reins and spooked at a butterfly and took off across the arena and made me look like I’d never been on a horse before. I actually can’t even believe the colt starter let him go home with me in the first place. Green as he was and unqualified as I think I am, I knew the day I met “Winchester” that he was the one.
One successful surgery, six weeks of rehab, and now about 60 days into training, Winchester is proving to me that sometimes a risky decision is the right one when you feel it in your heart—cheesy, I know. It’s thrilling, frustrating, rewarding, humbling, a constant learning experience, and I am still not qualified to be training a horse like this, but it’s at least bound to be comical, right?
Blanche Schaefer is associate editor of Barrel Horse News. She joined the team in August 2016 after graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a public relations degree and a business minor. She found herself right at home in Fort Worth, Texas, at the BHN office, combining her love of horses, journalism, rodeo and barrel racing.
A Texas native, Blanche was raised on a ranch in the small town of Vanderpool until she moved to Austin for college. She grew up riding and competing in 4-H and youth rodeos with her two geldings, Amigo and Petey, and then local amateur and open pro rodeos throughout high school and college with her mare and current main mount, Angel Flipper (“Red Molly”). She also rode English for the Texas Equestrian Team in college, competing in equitation through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and in the hunters on the local show circuit in Austin.
Outside of horses, Blanche is an avid college football fan and music aficionado. She can usually be found at the barn, on the road to a barrel race or rodeo, out on the town seeing live Texas music or in the stands at DKR watching Longhorn football.
“What Do We Do Now?” is a blog series written by BHN‘s associate editor Savannah Magoteaux, managing editor Kailey Sullins and associate editor Blanche Schaefer, where they discuss the struggles, joys, and rewards of training young barrel prospects as amateurs juggling full-time jobs, all from a real-life perspective. Read more at barrelhorsenews.com under the “Blogs” tab.