I also thought it would be fun to spotlight their contribution by asking a few fun questions of them, and sharing what they had to say. They were kind enough to cooperate! I hope you enjoy hearing from them as much as I did. I could really relate to what they had to say. :-)
How long have you been riding?
Gary: I had ridden some as a kid (just hanging on mostly) and some throughout my early 30’s but never in any competition until 2006 showing a very challenging horse in cow horse events.
Debbie: I have only been riding almost 4 years. I had a bad accident on a mare (my first horse) shortly after I started reining and had several surgeries so I missed 9 months but I got back on the same horse and realized I needed to take it a little slower after that. I was blessed to have a nice, big gelding for my next horse that really gave me my confidence back and took good care of me. Gary actually gave me “home schooling” on grooming and how to care for our horses at home for several years before I started riding. This ground work was so helpful in so many ways when I started riding.
Why did you choose reining?
Gary: I have always admired the reining horse as a disciplined and willing equine athlete and when Debbie starting riding and loved riding and especially reining, it must have been meant to be. Debbie and I can do this together and that’s the part of riding and showing reiners I like the most.
Debbie: I really like the reining side of the patterns when Gary was riding in the Reined Cowhorse events and wanted to try it. The different maneuvers in a single pattern looked challenging and I am glad I was honest with myself that going down the fence with a cow at a high rate of speed while on a horse was not a good idea for me!
What is the most challenging aspect of reining for you?
Gary: Consistency in training and in the show pen - maneuver to maneuver.
Debbie: I would also say consistency in training and controlling your nerves on show day.
What is the most important tidbit of advice you've learned from your trainer(s)?
Gary: Training with your horse to create winning habits, timing and techniques is only part of the journey – positive attitude and self-image go hand in hand with your training.
Debbie: Just have fun first! Just as important is that all the maneuvers are willingly guided and they are our partner. When I think about this it makes me slow my hand down and relax and let the horse do his job. Gary and I named our company Vaquero Midstream and ranch Ranchos los Vaquero’s after the Vaquero. The Vaqueros were the genesis of the American cowboy culture, embodying integrity, loyalty, work ethic and pride and we really try and incorporate this into our everyday life and horse riding.
What are some goals you have for you and your horse?
Gary: Continue to learn and refine our skills together
Debbie: I really just want to be able to show my horse to the best of their ability. They are such amazing athletes and I want to give them the respect they deserve in the show pen. I just want to continue to learn.
What is your favorite quirky thing about your horse?
Gary: Oscar (Lenas Tommygun – Gunnatrashya x Lenas Tommy Girl) makes the funniest faces with his very expressive ears. Samson (Starbucks For Chex – Smart Starbuck x Dun It For Chex) turns his head fully sideways and talks to you asking for treats.
Debbie: We actually have 12 horses and they literally all have very different personalities! It is so funny to watch them during the day. Nu Samson (Gunnin the Nu Trash) throws his head up and around when he sees me coming or hears me say his name. I think it is cute in the stall but NOT in the show pen! We are working on that!!
If you could choose any reiner (horse) to ride, past or present, who would you choose and why?
Gary: I would have liked to ride Gunnatrashya (Oscar’s sire) and maybe Dun It For Chex (Samson’s dam). These horse were great athletes in their own right and passed these talents on to their get.
Debbie: I would also choose Gunnatrashya and also Gunner Special Nite. I have one of each of their babies and they both ride so differently and powerful in their own way it would be really special to be able to ride each of them.
What advice would you offer someone considering reining?
Gary: Be patient and find a reining horse that fits you and will allow you to learn.
Debbie: I could talk about this subject for a long time because I feel like I have made every mistake you could make as a beginner. Gary and I both are detailed-oriented and planners but we still manage to just stumble our way through the reining world. Gary is absolutely correct. Be very patient and most importantly find the right horse that fits you and your riding style and be realistic about your capabilities and where you are in your process. At our age, I would love to be farther along in my experience and horse knowledge, but I have to be patient and just enjoy what I have right now and the great horses I get to ride today!
Thanks Gary and Debbie! I loved hearing your thoughts and thank you again for being such great sponsors of STRHA and ambassadors for the sport of reining!