Elizabeth Hartin: Always Put the Health of the Horse First

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Elizabeth Hartin: Always Put the Health of the Horse First


Brandy Von Holten, Elizabeth Hartin, transcribed by Rhiannon Niemeier


Brandy Von Holten  00:13

Today's interview is with Elizabeth Hartin, an established trainer and horsewoman. This is her story about choosing her horses health over a prestigious competition. Doing the right thing is not always an easy decision, but it was for Elizabeth. Too many times spectators get wrapped up in the competition to realize that horses like Elizabeth's horse, Sparkle, had already won something much greater than any title. You see, Sparkle has a true friend of the horse as her owner chose to put the horse first in herself. Second, Elizabeth’s story is sure to brighten your day and have your heart go pitter patter over one of the most majestic creatures to ever walk on Earth: the horse Welcome back to Big Boss Mare, this is Brandy Von Holten. Today, I have a professional equestrian trainer named Elizabeth Hartin. Elizabeth, where do you live at?



We are in Eolia, Missouri, which is north of St. Louis, Missouri.


Brandy Von Holten  01:20

Okay. Now, you train reining horses? [Elizabeth: Correct, correct.] My podcast, Big Boss Mare, I actually have a rotation of talking to people that have nothing to do with horses, then I have people that are in the horse industry. Every third week, I pick a topic and topic talk about it. Part of the people that are listening to Big Boss Mare don't know what reining is, they think it's water falling from the sky. Explain reining for somebody that doesn't know about it at all.



The definition of raining is to have a horse that is willingly guided through a set of maneuvers. Some of the more famous maneuvers that we do are the big slide stops, the fast spins, the big fast circles, small circles, and lead changes, also roll backs. We have several different patterns that we perform on our horses in events. Each maneuver is judged. You come up with a score at the end of your run. For each judge, the base score is set at 70, then each maneuver can be judged on a scale from minus one and a half to a plus one and a half.


Brandy Von Holten  02:50

Do they go by half points? [Elizabeth: Yes.] Okay, so you could get a 70 and then a 70.5 and 71 or 71.5. That seems like splitting hairs.



It really is, and it comes down to those half points.


Brandy Von Holten  03:09

Wow, that's only six different scores, basically, you could get because you have three different scores above 70 and three different scores below. 70. Correct. Wow.



There's a huge gap. There’s typically eight maneuvers in every pattern. If we can zero every maneuver of a pattern and end up with a base score of 70. That's actually really good, that's a big goal for a lot of our beginners to reach that 70 score. [Brandy: To not have deductions.] Right, no penalties and no negative maneuver scores.


Brandy Von Holten  03:48

Okay, so you said the word rollback. Okay, so what? We're not talking about a process at Walmart. Explain a roll back to someone.



That's the maneuver that we do after a stop. When your horse gets to the end of the stop, they're going to roll back over their hocks and leave the roll back in a lope. Basically, they're going to go 180 degrees from where they start, well, from where they're finished, go 180 degrees over their hocks and lope right off,


Brandy Von Holten  04:23

So, it's like if you're run in one direction, you stop, you turn around, and then you go right back into that run. [That's right.] Okay, so that's reining. Now you have a history of other kinds of training. Tell me what all you have trained in.



Originally I started off with just some fun show horses as a kid having fun in my backyard. I finished college and my life turned a different direction. I had an opportunity to go work for a reining horse trainer. After that, I worked for Carol Rose down in Texas and they have the reining cow horses as well as the reiners. She also had a couple of cutting horses down there. My first experience on a cutting horse I think I giggled and laughed and had more fun than I'd ever had on a horse. So I kind of changed route temporarily and went to work for a cutting horse trainer.


Brandy Von Holten  05:25

For the people that do not know cutting is, that's whenever there's a group of cattle, and you get to pull one out from the group. It’s just your horse against that one cow that is trying to get back to the herd. If you have not seen cutting, you need to look it up on YouTube because it looks like a fun, fun ride. [Elizabeth: It is, it really is.] They dig down in the dirt. Those horses are athletes. They look like they get down so low that your feet would be in the sand of the arena. You're not even five foot seven are you? [Elizabeth: Yeah, no.] You said that you went to college? What's your degree in? And where'd you get it at?



My degree is in elementary education. I got my degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia.


Brandy Von Holten  06:21

Alright, so you went to Mizzou. I was born and raised in Texas and then spent high school and my first two college degrees in Arkansas. So, we always talk about razor backs and Aggies. Then I came here and it’s all Missouri and Kansas and I'm like, what? We didn't ever talk about that in Texas or in Arkansas. I know it's Rock Chalk. I don't really get that Rock Chalk Jay Hawk, and then the Mizzou Tigers. [Elizabeth: That's right.] Okay, did you ever teach elementary?



I did. I had a couple of stents in teaching right after I graduated. After I had a pretty serious injury in 2008, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to ride again so I did one school year. I had a teaching position in Wentzville, Missouri in the fourth-grade classroom for a year. But as soon as I found out I was going to be okay to ride, I came back to the horses.


Brandy Von Holten  07:39

I used to be a schoolteacher, I taught high school biology and some middle school science. One summer, the school talked me into teaching fourth grade. It’s really hard for a high school biology teacher to go down to fourth grade, when you were like, “get your finger out of that, stop doing that. It doesn't even make sense.” I had to learn some songs like, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere.”  Fourth grade, that's a whole different world than what I'm used to. You said you had an accident, this was on a horse? [Elizabeth: Yes.] So, tell us about that, did you break your arm?



I wish. It was a little bit of a freak situation, and the reason we never allow people to tie horses in the arena anymore. It was back when we were training cutting horses, and there was a big set of cows in the middle of a 100-foot diameter round pin. We had a few horses tied to the arena wall that were saddled and we were going to ride them next. I was on a young horse, a two-year-old, just trotting in some circles. She was a little irritated and I wasn't sure what was bothering her but I thought, “we're just going to stay here till you settle down.” She went into flight mode, she took off and I tried to turn her left, turn right, stop her, but there was nothing stopping her. She beelined it. Horses are herd animals, so she beelined for one of the horses that was tied to the arena wall. Well, he naturally panicked and pulled back away from the arena wall, and she got herself clotheslined by the lead rope. She was flipped over basically on top of me. She was about a 1,000-pound mare. She came down on my knee, which took my femur bone and shoved it up into my hip socket and broke my hip in several places and my pelvis and everything.


Brandy Von Holten  10:01

You have some hardware in those hips. [Elizabeth: Yep.] How long were you non weight bearing?



A very long time, it felt like forever. They wanted me non weight bearing for as long as I would take it. They originally told me after the accident, six months. I'm like, oh no, I'm Superwoman. You don't know me, I'll be fine. It took a lot of rehab and a lot of time just getting strong again after something like that. I think it took about a year and a half to ride balanced again, to just have my strength back, and it took a good while to walk normal again. For a long time, I thought I would just always have a limp, but it actually went away.


Brandy Von Holten  10:55

A lot of times after people get hurt, their body is healed, but their mind has gotten used to a limp or the way something moves. It's hard to retrain yourself to be like, “Okay, I don't have to limp anymore.” The body's gotten used to moving in a certain way. Tying a horse up, that's a no go because that horse clotheslined itself. You better go get a tissue because I'm going to tell you a sad story. Whenever I was young, I tied my horse to a non-permanent structure, which is not what you had done at all, but I had a horse tied up, and it spooked. That lead rope was long enough for that horse to drag it and about cut its back two legs off. My parents tried to save the horse, so they hoisted it up. The vet tried to hoist it from his stomach to get the weight off of that leg to try to let it heal, and it did not happen. That was my father's horse that I tied up. He never got another horse. So alright, people, listen up. Do not tie your horses to something that's not a permanent structure. With us owning Von Holten Ranch, we have these gates that are for our arena and for our stalls. Those gates are hollow. They're $65 at Orscheln’s, maybe $70. Who cares? But people tie to the middle of that all the time. What's going to happen is they're going to become an expert at the cost of their horse. They're going to become an expert about where to tie horses at. Right beside that hollow gate there is this massive, I think it's like a four-by-four oak post that's solid. It's several feet into the ground. It just seems like common sense to me. It's just not until somebody tells you or until you become an expert through experience. You also said you had the horse tied in the arena, and you don't do that anymore. I also had another clinician that talked to me about having a lead rope they had tied to the arena, then they had the halter still in there. While she was cantering around, her foot went into the halter. It pulled her leg back and broke her hip. It just seems like we're getting all sorts of knowledge here. Don't tie your horses up into the arena because in between that arena wall and the horse, it does look like another horse could fit through there. That's what your horse thought it could do. It went over there and then it got clotheslined and then bad stuff happened. Mine was tied to something that wasn't permanent. The person that broke their hip was leaving that halter and lead rope in there. If you hear some background noise, we're actually in a barn right now, it's a horse messing around with its cross ties. Yeah, so this is most definitely my horse episode of Big Boss Mare. Okay, so you got your hip hurt and took a year and a half. Talk to me about things that you had to overcome there, because one time I had a horse that ran away with me, and then I got scared of jumping. What does this have to do with that at all, did you have any kind of mental roadblocks?



There were certain situations, and they weren't always the same situation, that would just trigger a little PTSD. Of course I was bound and determined to come back to training horses, which several of my family members thought was a little bit crazy. You have to be a little bit crazy to do this. So here we are. Several years after my accident, and even to this day, there are certain situations where I just will freeze a little bit, I can't quite knock it completely out of my system. When that mare did that, of course, she was running off, she was very elevated in her stance. She was leaping and running at the same time if that makes sense. If I have a horse that wants to be a little light on its front end and have that tendency, there might be a phase where I'm just not the best trainer for that horse, because I've had that situation come up and really take a good year and a half of my life away from following my dreams. So luckily, I work with my husband, who is fearless, and he's kind of like a cat. He always lands on his feet. In those situations, with those with those horses, it's better for the horse to have a rider that doesn't have that fear. So usually, they get moved to Joe string.


Brandy Von Holten  16:25

Okay, so, Joe's the husband. Let's come back. Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. This little bit of hesitation, you say that you have that, that's why people pay for an older employee sometimes is because they've went through some life. They know things that you can't learn until you went down this bumpy road. Your good decisions come from, of saying, hey, I'm not the right trainer for this horse. It's because of this experience that you have. It made you smarter. A lot of people can take something that should have been a setback, and then they just quit. The people that take that and learn from it. are the ones that have something special to offer other people, that experience. You just cannot put that into a book. You cannot. The classroom does not have it. Experience is worth its weight in gold for sure. So, let's talk about Joe. Here you are, a little Missouri girl, and you then married an Australian. [Elizabeth: That's right. That's right. I did.] I asked her if that made her have dual citizenship. And she said no, not for her, but maybe for her son, Oliver. You actually had Oliver after you had your hips all messed up. I noticed that you've got one kid and not two.



Yeah, there's a reason for that.


Brandy Von Holten  18:13

You and Joe are the same age. They are right before 40. I told him I was like, Man, the world just respects you more as soon as you turn 40. I don't know why. How old is Oliver? [Elizabeth: he's nine.] Nine. Okay. What made you decide on the name Oliver?



I don't know. You look for names, and we wanted something kind of unique. As soon as we thought of that name, it just it stuck. It was the name.


Brandy Von Holten  18:45

It’s Oliver. So tell me where you met Joe at.



I met Joe working in Oklahoma. After Carol Roses, I went to work for Tommy Marvin in Barn Stall Oklahoma. And when I got there –


Brandy Von Holten  19:01

Wait, Barn Stall is the name of the town? [Elizabeth: Yes.] Well, that's ironic for some horse people right there.



So anyway, when I went to work for Tommy and Susan, Joe had actually gone back home to Australia for a while. All I heard about was how wonderful this Australian colt starter was, and I'm kind of a competitive person more so than I am super girly. I was a little threatened by the fact that this wonderful cold starter was going to come back. I thought he’d take all my good horses and that's really all I was worried about. So, he comes back. My initial impression of Joe is that he's a very, very different person. You know, he was very unique. I kind of thought he was weird, honestly, when I first met him.


Brandy Von Holten  19:54

That is not what I usually hear of from people that are married, like their first impression.



Oh, yes, definitely. I got to know him. I got to watching what he could do with a two-year-old, his colt starting program was like nothing I'd ever seen before. I was really, really impressed and really intrigued. So, my first goal was to learn everything he knew, and it had nothing to do with dating him. I just wanted to learn as much as I could from him. We ended up riding until 10:30 at night helping each other, mainly him helping me more than anything. That’s how everything started.


Brandy Von Holten  20:39

Okay. Does he ride with a horn on his saddle? [Elizabeth: Well, actually, one of the saddles does not have a horn]. A lot of Australians that I've met don't have, big pens or something. A lot of times they're really good with the bullwhip. Is he good with a bullwhip?



Yeah, he's good at a lot of things. I keep learning about him, even to this day.


Brandy Von Holten  21:09

 The way it's been explained to me is that instead of like roping as much as they do, they would corral the cattle with using horses and bull whips and stuff. They don't really need the horn because the horn was used more for roping. I don't know, I've just gotten five Australians take on it. That's where I'm at with like, “Oh, does he ride with a horn on a saddle? Is he good with the bullwhip, and does he like to drink beer?” [Elizabeth: Yes, yes, and yes.] Okay, all right. I take it that he is now a US citizen?



Correct. So, we've been married for let's see. 12. No, sorry, not 12 years, 10 years. We had our 10-year anniversary this summer. He was over here probably, gosh, three or four years before that. So he came over on a work visa, and lots of paperwork and dollars later, here we are.


Brandy Von Holten  22:15

So tell me the name of your training program that you and your husband have together.



We are called Aussie Flare Performance Horses. Joe came up with the name he said he’s the Aussie and I'm the flare. So that's how [Brandy: Oh, I love that!] it's true. It's true.


Brandy Von Holten  22:36

The reason that I had reached out to Elizabeth, I was just like, “Hey, can we do a podcast interview? You can share you have a horse right now named Sparkle.” Okay, which I love that. Sparkle is the barn name. What's the horse's registered name? [Elizabeth: Shine Joe Shine.] Okay, so Sparkle was going to be competing in the NRHA futurity, and NRHA stands for National Reining Horse Association. They're futurity that is like a take on the word future, because it's the future of the horse industry. This is a competition just for three-year-old’s. It's a world competition. It's going to be held in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. Well, her horse just came down with pneumonia and being treated for that, and it's on stall rest. What this means for her, she's about to leave out for this futurity, it means she had to scratch, and scratch means to pull yourself from the competition. That competition had a hefty price tag. Entry is what? $2,700? [Elizabeth: Correct.] $2,700. You know what I could do with $2,700? It would be probably about a week in Mexico. I'm just thinking about how many horses I would have to train in a month to make $2,700. If you could have gone to that and won, is there a financial purse?



There's a really big payout, and there are several levels of the futurity. There's the open, there's the non pro, and there's levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 in both the open and non pro divisions. My goal, typically when I'm taking a futurity horse down to Oklahoma City is to make the finals.


Brandy Von Holten  24:46

Hold up. I think I'm saying futurity and you're saying futurity? I'm missing that up.



Well, it’s said both ways.


Brandy Von Holten  24:59

Well here, let me try to say futurity – it feels weird – futurity. Now then tell me, you said there's an open division, which is for the professionals that train, and then there's a non pro Division. Those are the people that don't train other people's horses. Then, there's a 1, 2, 3, 4 for each one of those. [Elizabeth: Correct.] Okay. So, you would have been in the open division. And what level levels? [Elizabeth: one through four.] Oh, you're in all of the levels? Okay. I don't understand that then.



It's based on your lifetime earnings for level one.


Brandy Von Holten  25:43

Wait, is level one the lowest or the highest?



Lowest. I've only won about $26,000 right now. So, I'm still level one eligible. Now the two, the three. and the four levels are based on what you've done in previous years. There's a cap, they keep changing the qualifications for the levels, but it's all money based. The level one is the only level that, at least originally, it was set up to where $50,000 lifetime earnings, once you win $50,000, you can’t come back to level one. It's a little different now. I think it's if you are in the top 28 open riders the previous year, then you can't show in level one. They keep tweaking it.


Brandy Von Holten  26:35

It's a little bit experience based, and it's a little bit money based,



 Correct. There's a huge benefit to when you're eligible for all four levels, because let's say you go out there, and you have a rock star horse, and you're in all four levels, you make all four finals, you get four large paychecks.


Brandy Von Holten  26:55

Explain this to me. So if there are four levels, and it's based on how much money you earned, then how can you be in two, three, and four? If you're eligible for one, can you choose to go into 2, 3, 4?



We all pay the same entry fee, and whatever levels we are eligible for, we are paid up in with our $2,700. If I'm eligible for level one, I'm also eligible for two, three, and four.


Brandy Von Holten  27:20

Nope, you lost me, I am completely lost. Okay, so how much money do you have to have made to get to a level two?



Anybody who is in the top 28 riders of last year's earnings, all over 2019, if they're in the top 28 riders, they cannot show in the level one. That's based on, you know, just where you fell last year. I think it was fairly easy to get bumped out of the level one last year. Don't quote me on all of these restrictions. Like I said, they change them every year. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with, but every year, the NRHA puts out an eligibility list. It's online, you can check, am I eligible for level 1, am I eligible for level two, three and four. Level four are your million-dollar riders, the big dogs. The level four is tough .Iit's Andrea Fappani. It's Shawn Falrida. It's the big dogs.


Brandy Von Holten  28:27

Well, here are these people have made a million dollars, and there's only six different scores, basically, they could get. They’re trying to get back just to 70. Well, these people wouldn't try to get to a 70, they would try to get to that 71.5 on every maneuver.



Yeah, well, 1.5 per maneuver. Here's how it works. If you have an eight-maneuver pattern, let's say you can plus half every maneuver,


Brandy Von Holten  28:54

That's 1.5 times eight plus the 70?



Just point five times eight plus the 70. Okay, so then you end up with a 74. That's a big score, that's going to win a lot of money in our industry. It multiplies. So, when you go down to the futurity, and we have five judges, you're going to hear scores. Your base score is 210. They throw out the high score, they throw out the low score, and the three middle scores are capped.


Brandy Von Holten  29:25

Okay, so the 70 times three is 210, and there are five judges, minus high, minus low, and it ends up with the three in the middle. Okay.



Yes. So in our bigger events, there's so much money on the line. That's why they want five different perspectives to try to get a clearer, better score.


Brandy Von Holten  29:51

Yeah, you want the best. Whenever you go to a competition, and there's only one judge That's rough. [Elizabeth: It's one person's opinion.] Yes, and it's subjective judging. It is very subjective, subjective meaning you're not going against the clock or something, you're going off of somebody's opinion. It is to your benefit. I'm surprised they don't make there be more judges with all this money in it. You know, you are completely different than a lot of the other horse people I talk to you because a lot of them are competing for ribbons. Ribbons, trophies, and you're like, “No, this person won a million dollars. A million dollars.”



I know. Well, it's great for our owners. We show horses for our owners, our clients in the barn. Most of our owners are well beyond caring about the ribbons. These entry fees are high. If there wasn't a check to win, we'd be hard pressed to find people to pay $2,700 for a ribbon.


Brandy Von Holten  30:55

Well, yeah, that would have to be one heck of a ribbon.



Yes. Yeah. Made of gold.


Brandy Von Holten  31:00

Most definitely. Here's Sparkle, do you own Sparkle?



I do own Sparkle.


Brandy Von Holten  31:11

 Was she born here? Or did you buy her as a one-year-old? Tell me about Sparkle.



So, we bought her as a yearling, she was one year old. We ride some horses for Russell Giles. She owns Little Joe Cash. A stallion, who's very well known in our industry. He won the futurity. He won several major events. I think he won somewhere close to $300,000 in his career. We've ended up with a lot of his babies. So, Sparkle was one of Russell's. He raised her down in Waco, Texas, and sent I think a group of three up to us, they were all the same age, and our plan was to pick one to buy. Then we would train the other two for her. I think we ended up selling the other two that year, but we bought Sparkle, we kept Sparkle. We started her, and we've had her the whole time.


Brandy Von Holten  32:12

Okay, so first of all, it was a lady named Russell. That's cool. [Elizabeth: She’s a Big Boss Mare too.] I love Big Boss Mares. I don't know if everybody's hearing this. But here is this horse that was one, and it was this huge selection process. The daddy was a big money guy. Now it comes down to, we’re just a few days before she would leave out for her big debut that cost a big chunk of change, and this horse has pneumonia. Elizabeth did the right thing by pulling the horse from the competition. That deserves a huge round of applause. This is like a little kid that finally wants to go to the ocean, and then you get out of the car, and you put all the sunscreen on, and you walk down. As soon as they go to put their foot in the water, you're like, nope, get back in the car. Let's go back home. It just feels like you were running 100 miles per hour, and somebody deployed the parachute. That's what it feels like to me, and I'm not even you. In this industry, everything is like high. The training is high, the entries are high, and this is like high end horse. Now this horse will not be able to compete in the futurity. [Elizabeth: There you go. Oh, Lord. So, we're hoping maybe next year, there's something called the derby. So maybe Sparkle will be able, will Sparkle be able to compete in the derby? [Elizabeth: Absolutely.] Okay. So what's the derby?



The derby is for 4-, 5-, 6-, and seven-year-old horses. It is in Oklahoma City as well. It's one of the NRHA major events. It is in June every year. So next year, Sparkle will be a four year old. I know she'll be healthy and fully recovered from this, and strong and more mature than she is now. So, I'm confident in her for the derby events.


Brandy Von Holten  34:42

Okay. Well, I'm glad that she's going to be able to have something instead of, “you're done.”



Right. No, it's not the end of their careers. It's definitely the end of the futurity year for her. She'll never be a three-year-old again and be able to compete in the futurity. That was disappointing. It's funny, because she drew up on the 28th of November, that's when she was supposed to show. My vet, this past Saturday, she said, “She needs two weeks being turned out, no forced exercise for her.” So, two weeks from the day that she told me is actually the 28th. That's the day that she would have shown. Obviously, she's not going down there. I just felt it was kind of ironic. Timing is everything.


Brandy Von Holten  35:44

Let’s talk about this. A lot of people would have pushed through, but that that's not the right decision for the horse. Not for the horse that you care about. Sometimes these correct decisions are hard to make. Within a trail riding facility, I have seen bad decisions made by people, because they're put in a weird position, especially with the pro division, and sometimes with people not owning the horse. Then the trainer, or the owner, has put so much money into the horse. I've seen people make the wrong decision. I wanted to contact Elizabeth and I wanted to put her on Big Boss Mare Because, do you know how hard it had to be to make that decision? It was probably not hard for you, because you love the horse. But I can understand it's really hard to make the right decision, but it was the correct decision for the health of the horse. What that means to me is, if you are somebody that's wanting to train in this reining horse, or you're looking for a trainer, somebody I'm going to recommend is her, because she makes the correct decision. I can tell you, a lot of people do not make the correct decision. We need to need to take this opportunity to highlight people that are going to do what's right for the horse. Tell us about some of the training that you do. What is something that you bring to the training of these horses, the training of your horses and of client’s horses, what are some things that you do that make you stand out?



I think that our program is getting a reputation of being easy to ride behind.


Brandy Von Holten  38:00

What that means to me, so let me interpret this and see if I got it right. would be, after you get on and ride the horse and then I get on and ride the horse, even though I am not you, the horse is able to do the maneuvers with somebody that's not at your level. [Elizabeth: Correct.] Oh, I got it right. Oh my gosh, where's my blue ribbon? Okay.



Our whole program is based on doing what's best for the horse. This Sparkle situation, like you said, that's what our whole program is. It’s based around trying to bring the horse to its potential, but never sacrificing their mind or their health. Of course, horses are horses, things happen. They don't always make good choices. We're presented with several opportunities to do our best to be the horse’s advocate. There are other trainers that have won a lot more money than us. Like I said, the million-dollar riders, they are impressive to watch, and they are asking for everything out of those horses and they're getting it. They're phenomenal and I respect them. But right now, where our program is, it's more of a, “Let's help these horses reach their potential. Let's have these horses be easy to just pile it around further.” There are owners who are non-pros, there are owners who are green reiners or rookie reiners. We try to keep it very simple and keep the horse craving their job.


Brandy Von Holten  39:45

Horses can get tired of doing the same job. Everybody always wants to say something about barrel racers. But barrel racers, no, that happens to everybody. I have seen some barrel racers that know their stuff. Okay, so that is not a diss towards them. I'm just saying a lot of people will try to go there with a horse being sour, but horses can get sour to anything. They can get sour to a job, they can get sour to standing in a stall, they can get sour to all sorts of stuff. Whenever a horse is sour, they're just like, I don't want to do it. You can't make me.  It’s like they’re throwing a temper tantrum. I do like that you've noticed a lot of your clienteles, you said that you have a lot of green and novice people. Well, there are theories like the largest platform for any kind of competition, typically, you're going to have more at the beginner level. So that's great that that's your clientele, because there's only one star at the top of the Christmas tree, but the bottom is much larger. So that is smart on your part to be able to build these horses so that these novice riders can ride them. I know some horses I have seen before, a novice rider would get on and the horses wouldn't even canter for them. The horse is like you can’t make me do anything. That's really cool that you're able to train a horse to where a novice can get on and ride them and be successful and live out their dreams of competing and reining.



It really broadens our customer base. We have happy clients, and that's really what it's all about


Brandy Von Holten  41:36

Happy clients and non-sour horses. That is a good combination. Do you have any business tricks of the trade, anything that you would recommend to anybody else that is training horses or anything? Do you have any advice or insight?



It’s not a specific trick, but I think the key to success with animals and people is to stay humble and keep your mind open to learning. Make sure that you surround yourself with people that you aspire to be like, and always keep the mind open to learning.


Brandy Von Holten  42:27

If your trainer doesn't have a trainer, then you need a new trainer. If you're if you're staying stagnant in what you know, you're just like water and water that doesn't move, stinks. [Elizabeth: I love that.!] A little biology stuck in there, talk about some stinky water. What about in the barn? I know, for us, we're always about biosecurity. They actually feed hay from above the horse’s stall. They're able to just go up on that second story and just drop the hay in, but they have large hay bags. I was like, okay, this is something different that I have not seen. I took a little picture of that. But this hay bag goes from the ceiling, all the way down to the floor, but that was a happy mistake that happened, right?



Yes, I did think they were smaller. I didn't think they were quite so large. But, with performance horses, we think it's really important to keep hay in front of them 24/7. We do like to turn our horses out, of course. Our horses have slide plates on, so when we have ice and snow outside, that's not a good idea. We use our indoor arena for turnout, but we try to keep them in as natural a type of habitat as we can. So, 24 hours a day hay pulling out of a slow feeder hay net. That’s something that they do outside, they pull from the ground, they eat grass, it keeps their stomachs happy. It keeps their stress level low.


Brandy Von Holten  44:10

That's what I was going to ask, is have you noticed a decrease in ulcers with them being able to keep that hay in there, so they don't have that acid just sitting there? It actually has a job of digesting hay.



 Yes, we're big on ulcer prevention. Everything about our feed program, about our training program, is based on keeping things really low, and the stress level to keep them healthy. Most of these horses that we're riding in here are bred so specifically to do what we do. They're so talented, and they're just amazing creatures. Our job is to mainly keep them feeling their best so they can perform. But their natural talent, the breeding of today is amazing.


Brandy Von Holten  45:02

So if anybody would like to get in touch with you, tell them how. Do you have a social media, but then how so tell them what to look for.



We have a business page on Facebook, it's called Aussie Flare Performance Sources, you can find us on there.


Brandy Von Holten  45:22

Okay, so nothing crazy there. Aussie Flare Performance Horses. Do you have openings to take in horses right now?



At the moment, we're pretty full. I have a list of horses that are going to be coming in to be started. The horses that are coming too, but we get a little bit of a waiting list going. But sometimes there's a surprise like, this one had to go home for a break, or we sold this horse, and a spot comes open. Reach out to us on social media, give me a call. Sometimes we have some openings that are surprises.


Brandy Von Holten  46:08

You're working with an animal, there's going to be all kinds of surprises. They're so common that they're not surprises almost.



Exactly, every day. What's going to happen today? We don't know.


Brandy Von Holten  46:21

We always joke, we joke, but then not really. My husband always says, “Horses wake up every morning and decide between suicide and murder.” They want to hurt themselves, or they want to hurt another horse. Some of the things that my horses have done. I'm like, nobody would believe me if I told them how they hurt themselves. Now then, do you also teach lessons or clinics or anything? Tell us what all services you provide?



Yes, we do lessons, we try to schedule our lessons, Tuesdays through Thursdays, in the middle of the week. We make Saturday, a big lesson day, as long as we're not at a show. We just had a clinic the first weekend in November, just a one day clinic. We had about nine riders. We tried to do and that was actually our second clinic. This fall, the clinics, we've had a lot of interest in them. So we've kind of thrown a little more of those into our program.


Brandy Von Holten  47:30

So, three to four days a week, and then a clinic. What's the maximum? Do they get both you and Joe? [Elizabeth: Correct.] So, they get two clinicians. What's your maximum number on a clinic?



I don't like to have more than 10.


Brandy Von Holten  47:48

10 is a beautiful number. Most of the time, I'll have one clinician, because we host clinicians, and they'll want 12 to 15 for one. The fact that what you're doing is so specific, like little bitty maneuvers, because of that, that scoring range being so tight.



Yeah, we like to make sure everybody leaves with more than just a couple of tidbits of things that help them. We like to really be able to individually work with everyone. Joe usually takes five, I'd take five and we can group riders with similar abilities, horses with similar abilities, and it helps us make sure everybody walks away with a lot of good information,


Brandy Von Holten  48:39

it is nice that you divide the group's up. I've gone to a clinic before where I was the most advanced person, and then you're bored, I'm bored. I've also went whenever I had some stinky horse or stinky mule, and I was a time hog. I have been at the top of that list and I have been at the bottom.



Yes. And from our perspective, it's kind of hard to manage. I think we've gotten better about that with age, but, it's taken some time to really master the management of it.


Brandy Von Holten  49:16

Most definitely. It is nice for the clinician to have a group setting so they can be like, “Okay, I'm going to help.” You get a discounted rate instead of paying for all those hours of private lessons from the standpoint of the person that's taking the clinic. You're getting two people. You pay a little bit of money for it, but it would have been a lot more for private lessons. And then your horse and you also need brain breaks. You can't just go that whole time. You'll be a zombie, you'll be walking around and be like, “I like the smell of purple,” you know? Then your horse is like, “Ah, I just want my hay bag, I hate this.” So, it is nice to take in a clinic setting, because then you do have the little bit of downtime and brain break and come back and it's fresh. Then the fact that you've got two clinicians in a clinic is extremely nice.



The opportunities that arise from other people's maybe problems or strong points, you can learn a lot from the other riders as well.


Brandy Von Holten  50:20

So, you have lessons, you have clinics, you have horses in for training, and then you have, is it a competition team? Or what do you have going on there?



We have several shows throughout the year, some of our owners like to stay a little more local and show more in the Midwest area and some of our riders want to go to the major events in Oklahoma City. Luckily for us, we don't have to go really far to show, so our team is our clients, our owners, and us showing. Joe stays home, he's more of the two-year-old trainer. That's the other beauty of our program is that foundation, he really is so important. The two-year-old year to us is the most important year of their life. So, when I'm at a show, Joe staying home keeping the young horses going, I might have the show horses and our show team, our owners who are showing, with me and he's managing everything at home.


Brandy Von Holten  51:25

I have two thoughts with that. That is the elementary education coming in where you're like, okay, alright, it's time for our performance. Then managing the people, managing the horses, managing the event. That right there, I just thumped my chest and gave you two fingers up for much love. That does take someone, and then with you saying that about the foundation of the two-year-old, I mean, it is easier to give birth than to raise the dead. Joe is giving the birth of this horse’s career, this beautiful Foundation. It's so much easier to get it right at the beginning than to fix people's mess ups. We live that every day.



We do both, there are, of course, horses that come in with problems or, maybe this horse had to start somewhere else. We have come to be able to master, not master, I don't know that we'll master everything until the end of our life.


Brandy Von Holten  52:39

Mr. Miyagi.



But we've found what works for us, and all of these different aspects of horses, so,


Brandy Von Holten  52:48

okay, so, there we go. I hope that you enjoyed this interview as much as I did, and contact her, contact Joe, you get two for the price of one. All right, well, thank you for tuning into Big Boss Mare with Brandy Von Holten.

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