Rance and Josey Butler

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Wild at Heart

Posted on September 23, 2013 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Every now and then a person needs to step outside the box and challenge themselves. I have been long over due for that challenge and this year presented itself with the time and opportunity to join my husband Rance Butler in the Mustang Million Challenge. For those who aren’t familiar you have 120 days to gentle and train a BLM mustang before competing on it, its like getting an un halter broke 3 yr old in August and trying to have it ready for the Super Stakes. Rance has faired pretty well in the past at these events and I have always thought about doing it too. This years adoption was held during the BBR Finals so while I was in OKC competing, Rance went searching for our dance partners in Ft Worth. I wanted a big athletic one, hard to find in a mustang but he found her, sent me pictures, and home she came. That big head and disdainful look I received when I first peered into her stall had me wondering if there was either an Andalusian stud or someone’s Dash Ta Fame got loose in Black Rock Range NM. The former proving most plausible since that range has a large amount of Spanish influence. She’s a very rangy 15.2 and growing and her head is one of those that is what you would politically correctly call… distinguished.


My over grown ballerina proved quickly to be both difficult and easy at the same time. Easy, to say she never did anything mean. She never once kicked, bit, bucked, or ran off with me. Difficult in the fact that she was virtually unreadable. She would go through the motions of everything you asked her to do with a blank look on her face like one of those stud horses you see that everyone thinks is so kind but eventually snaps and takes someone’s arm off. This part scared me more than if she had been a combative bronc because it was so hard to tell how far to push her. For the first month the theme song from Jaws played in my head every time I went in that round pen. Long about the end of that month we found out we are embarking on another adventure. Our daughter is due in January. Everyone automatically assumed I would hand Rance the reins and sit down and start eating ding dongs. Obviously I am not a sit down kinda girl and Hostess was still out of business at that time. Rance and I discussed it together and decided he would do the hard work aka the first few rides and if she proved gentle enough I would continue. A week later I was sitting her amazing trot around the round pen laughing with joy.


Over the months this strange looking mare bloomed and turned into probably one of the nicest most willing horses I have ever ridden but still she had her guard up. I am not all into treats and natural horsemanship but I have had only 2 horses that didn’t at least appear to like me in training and truth be told I didn’t like them either so they probably knew it. I sent her videos to a friend of mine who deals with Spanish influence horses and she pointed out that there is a reason you seldom see these types of horses in the colt starting demo’s. It takes longer than 15 min to earn their trust and they really do think they’re better than you. There was 2 weeks in there where morning sickness had me on the couch feeling sorry for myself and Rance rode her. I began to notice anytime I went outside she would stop what she was doing and stare me down. This is the first time since I first laid eyes on her she acknowledged my existence. After I started riding her again we never looked back. She has proved to be the smartest most willing animal I have ever trained. She’s probably broker than anything I have ever started and does all of it happily. How I taught her to do the Spanish Walk is beyond me but she does it and loves every step she takes.


At the actual event we ended up 29th out of 191 just 10 few pts out of the finals. A spook at the ground in horsemanship probably cost us those 10 points but what can you do when they decide they don’t like the smell of a big old steaming pile of poo? The reining satisfied my need for speed, they asked for a run in. A trainer out back jokingly said send her in there like you’re at the BFA. In we went and I was proud to finish in the top 20 in the reining out of 169 actual runs with people like Pete Kyle, Craig Johnson, and Jordan Donnelly. Not bad for a barrel racer as a couple people put it. Not good enough I thought at the time but in the back of my mind I accomplished more goals than I ever dreamed with this mare fighting 6 mo pregnant hormones and a constantly kicking baby during the trail class. I hope and pray my coming 3 yr olds that will start training after our baby girl is born have this much try and heart. If anyone is ever looking for a challenge that goes beyond anything you’ve ever thought possible I highly recommend trying this event just once and if you don’t have time just attending will amaze you.

Relaxing in the ROUND PEN?

Posted on September 11, 2012 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I took the blog down for a while. I discovered random people were posting in the comments attempting to sell Sex Toys and such which obviously is not exactly what we do here thankfully none of our owners saw these and called me wondering exactly what kind of training we did. 

Now that I have it all ironed out back to training tips and random thoughts...

The round pen

Here lately I have developed a strong relationship with my round pen. I've done alot of thinking in there here lately, It's become the zen room at my house. The other day I compared it to the rinse cyle in the washing machine where you put a horse in there made it go round and round until all the bad stuff came out and you had a much fancier outfit to ride. For that particular horse it's true the horse was full of it and needed to learn some respect, but this week and a different horse it's became a meditaion zone. I would chant and beat on Bongo Drums like Matthew McCaughney if I thought it would help but fortunatly we're not that extreme and I don't smoke dope so it's not going to sound right. I took a horse in there the other day to calm it down, not work it's tail off. First ride new horse and it was exactly what I was told it was. You hit a lope and it felt like a Lipazanner with a bad case of EPM. Before I called the vet I took it to the round pen looped the reins over the saddle and watched it go. Apparently the problem is me on it's back because the horse is a BEAUTIFUL mover and a horse that big should not be able to lope in that small of a round pen so efficeiently, it's defenatly not crippled. I climbed up on the fence a stared at the new project for a little bit and tried to bring back every trick I had ever been taught to calm a horse like this down.

The one that came to mind was a little run off cowbred mare I had to break who panicked at a lope. The head trainers responce to me at the time was let her go. All she can do is go in a circle if she's got any sense she will slow down and start wondering why you aren't pulling on her. So after a bit of light work biting the horse up side to side and working it for 3 or 4 min, I climbed on threw the reins away and "Let Her Go". I'm not going to lie, you know that ride at the fair where you're going in circles so fast the force pushed you up against the wall and you can't move? I was there, my right stirrup was taking some serious G forces while I did my best to stay loose in the saddle and give the horse something to wonder about. After about 4 rounds her ears started moving and I felt the horses back relax and the landing gear loosen.When we were just loping I pulled on the inside rein and brought it to the middle of the round pen and winded it down to a stop without giving it something to grab and run off with. The other direction was more like the swings and less like the Megatron and I got the same stop out of the horse.I got a chuckle out of remembering what my former employers responce would have been.... well she's not crazy. He's right the horse is most defenatly not crazy. The vote still remains whether or not we have a superstar but it's looking much more promising thanks to time spent relaxing in the round pen. 

Matters of the Heart

Posted on March 20, 2011 at 6:18 PM Comments comments (0)

It is often said, “One never knows what’s in one’s heart.“ but listening to a woman the other day bad mouth every horse that went down the alley I felt like a cardiologist. Every rider that so much as bounced in the turn, and every horse that didn’t work like a museum exhibit was subject to her less than positive expert opinion which made me wonder if this gal was mentally and emotionally playing out all the things people might say about her during her runs. In reality the rest of the world probably don’t care as much as she does but what other reason would there be for such words?

Being our own worst enemy is not a new trend among barrel racers but what about when you become an enemy to others without even realizing it. Random negative comments about people you don’t know, who are in or debilitated by situations you will never know, is not only mentally draining for yourself but it annoys the people around you as well. To what purpose are these comments when you could make someone’s day brighter and lighten your own heart? Even if they had just one good barrel or maybe they are riding a horse that don’t quite get it yet but can really run, would it not be more productive to pass that person and say, “Hey your horse can really scoot, or that was a great first barrel?”


A stop to it came when the comments, came around to one of my students who is not at a 1D level yet but made a very large improvement with the correctness and smoothness of her pattern. The girl has had 3 lessons and I don’t attribute her improvement to me as much as the natural talent she possess’. I was quite thankful I had ridden all my horses for the day because the rest of the event I was in a bad mood from one persons careless comments towards a person she had never met and a person I had a personal vested interest in because I want her to do well and was quite proud of her bottom of the 3D run. What’s in one’s heart often times comes out their mouth before they realize it. Have you had your heart checked today?

Dirt........ not filling HORRIBLE TASTE!

Posted on March 13, 2011 at 6:57 PM Comments comments (0)

This past weekend while competing in Texarkana AR at the BFA Lucky Dog Futurity, I fell off a good filly on the second barrel. There was really no rhyme or reason to what happened it was simply a matter of being a little out of time and training the horse maybe a little too well. Well enough she knew she was where she was supposed to be and I asked for one more step and she turned exactly where I had been tuning on her to turn in the practice pen all week. That'll teach me to call Geico to when overthinking that I might hit a barrel.

I rememeber laying there in the arena in shock as to what happened and wanting out of the pen. Not so much embarrassed of falling off but embarrassed that it hurt! Praise the lord nothing is broken and I sit here typing because I chose to ride yesterday and today my body is calling me obscene names. While I type it has occured to me how much my focus has changed. I am quite certain when I was younger this would have effected me tremendously. It's apparent I have quit taking myself to seriously...

I think every now and again we should all eat the proverbial dirt it really puts one in persepective. The mare I came off of is not the horse in my barn I ever dreamed I would suck mud pies riding. She's a pretty cut and dry type of horse to ride. Kick, Hang ON, and help her on the back side. She's generally pretty smooth about it not a lick of cheat in her and keeps improving with every run. It kinda made me realize how little credit I had been giving her while alway thinking the one that was going to make me look stupid were the 2 front enders in my barn. She has always had my admiration and respect but she gets it double now that she has furrowed the ground on the second barrel with my head.  Of course there are stories going that I both passed and blacked out as well as that the mare ducked. NONE of which happened. Someone doubts me I know a lady with the video.

Lesson learned and saddle horn re-attained she went back down that alley and clocked the best she's ever clocked in that kind of company with a stumble on the 3rd barrel leaving it. That's a testimate to her as an individual and her daddy as a sire. She can loose a rider on friday come back loose her rear end on saturday and still get up and run a half second off the wolves. This mare was not started on barrels till August of last year. It also helped her jockey to quit climbing out over the front of her horses like the hood ornament on a Chrysler! I will consider it a blessing and move on I hope the lesson sticks with me as well as the memorie is going to. I can't imagine a better life lesson than one from a horse can you?

A year in review

Posted on December 31, 2010 at 9:11 AM Comments comments (0)

I've seen 865146782 facebook posts claiming not to be able to wait for 2011 and I must confess I am trying not to be one of them. I even bought a can of Black Eyed Peas which I have never had a taste for. While I am looking forward to 2011 because I look forward to about anything new I watch 2010 go with the sadness of seeing it leave.

We have traveled so much this year and seen so many places with what we do we are tremendously blessed.

Texas A&M where we will forever be in there debt for saving Nonstop Bugs life. I have an A&M Sweatshirt now and she has it on her halter.

 Kinder LA where they don't believe in Starbucks, and it was snowing which I am going to go out on a limb and say never happens.

All of Alabama and Mississippi where we road tripped so our horses could have a new trailer. Walked on the beach in Pensacola Florida in February and annoyed family and facebook with pictures of birds and seashells.

Memphis TN where I left with the knocked down barrels blues... I wonder if BB King has ever sang about that? Great BBQ though.

Fort Smith AR, where friendships, records and timers were broken, lives were changed and dreams were made. Thankfully that poor newpaper guy that ruined that run for Kay is not a regular member of the barrel horse industry people would still be throwing rocks at him. 

Summer brought us rodeos, 84572 trips to the vet, our 3rd wedding anniversary each of which becomes a bigger shock to family and friends. A whole lot of laughs and good times and some really great clients to keep us busy with their horses.

The Jud Little Barrel Bash created new friendships, brought us back to the place where it all started as Rance and I met there at Jud's sale dance in 2006 while I was working for Bobby Lewis. Then Jud gave us a job when our place of emplyment shut it's doors, and sent horses with us to keep us going while Rance went through fire school. I will never be able to repay him and Jolene for all the support when we struck out on this venture.

JB Quarter Horses saw us come home with hope of Reba's return to the arena, and a new horse which if I had drove down to JB Quarter Horses and picked a stud to breed a to the mare this is the colt that would have resulted.

The BFA did not go as planned but it inspired something in me. I drove home disgruntled but when my feet hit home ground I resolved to do everything in my power to fix what I could. Bad luck which we had alot of is unescapable but growing from it is defentatly an option. The good I found in is watching your friends kick but I could not have been prouder for Jolene Stewart Montgomery and Aced My Bully whom she literally started from the first saddling, and Joy Wargo and Charlotte Cunningham for shutting em down in OKC.

I hope as everyone who looks back on 2010 with dusgust makes a point to learn from it and put it behind them. I stood and watched my 2010 futurity filly who had everything bad happen to her short of dying last year smoke a set of barrels with her new pilot the other day and thanked god for the brief oppourtunity to ride a horse like her, and for the coming year where we have a barn full of horses with good owners to try it all again.

Happy New Year and please let a friend drive if you are drinking!

Remember to say MERRY CHRISTMAS

Posted on December 20, 2010 at 8:09 AM Comments comments (0)

It's Christmas week in the world and it's filled with last minute shoppers and people trying to get somewhere. I myself have now where I that is detremental to my well being  to be till February's LG Pro Classic so you can compare me to your sunday driver on Christmas week. The one who's all smiles and full of holiday cheer in a patronising sort of way because as a rule I am not a shopper at anytime of the year, nor am I a party thrower unless it's a select group of friends enjoying eachothers company. Our Christmas shopping is done. I pick the one major purchase I spent any thought on, up this afternoon and am quite proud of myself I have kept it a secret THUS far. To me this is what the holidays is about people you love (I can't wait to see my husbands face), family and our lord Jesus Christ.

Yesterday in Church our pasture Mike Fletcher with Spur on Cowboy Ministies, Quitman Texas, brought up a point that is excellent. While people are trying to take the lord out of everything, Scientists for all their Darwinism and studies and disbelief in one true savior are still keeping time by refering to B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (After Death) and While the White House and everyone else is trying to turn Jesus's birthday into the "Holidays" they are infact still celebrating the birth of christ whether they want to admit it or not. The good lord must have a heck of a sense of humor to look down here and see all these non believers exchanging gifts which is a direct reflection of the 3 wise men bearing gifts when Jesus was born. I guess that's why they were considered wise men, they started something that would carry on and make those people who don't believe acknowlege the birth of christ anyway. It just goes to show you can't beat God, in anyway shape or form he's got this whole deal set up to no matter why you say you're celebrating you're still celebrating the birth of his son like it or not. You can't in good consious celebrate the "Holidays" if you don't believe in God. So remember next time someone tells you Happy Holidays, respond to him guilt free with a Merry Christmas!

Forking Your Own Broncs

Posted on December 3, 2010 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Both Rance and I spend our evenings like an old couple reading before bed. Both of us have an unhealthy addiction to Louis Lamour books which is why if you go to our photo's you will see a picture somewhere of our cat Louis Lamour. Not to long ago I was reading one where yet another hero was helping a friend in trouble with the bad guys and somewhere there was a pretty girl involved and the hero's friend in distress said to him, "I always fork my own broncs." This has became one of my favorite sayings personally because of the so many situations it applies where people really should think a little harder on making this their motto.


In the literal sence of the term I do not fork my own broncs. I used to when I was young and dumb and didn't realize all those times I hit the ground on something I was trying to prove to someone I could fix, would lead up to the 5-10 minutes it takes me to get from the bedroom to the kitchen in the morning because I have to break loose all my joints and I am just 30. Remember that, all of you who want to train horses. Just because you think you can fix something doesn't mean you should try. Now that my sense of feminism left me and I am proud to be the more delicate gender I allow my husband to handle these situations as he does it quit well and enjoys it far more than I do.


In the proverbial sence of the word there are so many situations where we should follow this code of the long forgotten old west. There is so much finger pointing going on in the world today between politics and religion, right down to family members turning on family members. Children watch TV and learn to blame their parent's, siblings, teachers, and fellow children for all their problems of which most are nothing compared to the realities  of adulthood. Then there is the world of we horse people, where as a trainer you have to find what works for you and stick with it, making occasional modifications in your program to suit a particular horse or situation. In the world of a competitor, you have to pay attention to what you are doing and ignore the others. I see people who constantly change things based on the advise of multitudes of people with the best adn worst of intentions. People who are capable hands who begin to doubt themselves and then as the advise changes both the horse and rider get flustered and it gets worse till you are left with a shell of a horse and rider team that you can see the doubt, as they go down the alley. Horses can look just as unsure as their rider.


 I went through a spell here recently where I tried a few things different and the result was not good. Trying to keep an open mind and learn new things sometimes you have to go through this. I went back to some videos from before I had started these little subtle changes that were not in my best interest and was watching them with my husband. He said... "THERE.... that's where you need to be, right there, get that back." He walked into the other room to get a drink and the words from my favorite books came back to me... "Fork your OWN bronc."

Mental Warfare.. from the parking lot to the alley

Posted on November 28, 2010 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

In the competitive world there is always going to be a chess match of the minds. Sometimes you are playing Bobby Fischer sometimes you are scratching your head at Ricky Bobby. 

This weekend a friends superstar horse was assaulted verbally by a person she did not know but  who evedently spends alot of time over compensating for a lack there of. When she mentioned the comments that were made not knowing the name of the offender I knew IMMEDIATLY who this person was. This one is much closer to Ricky Bobby. I've had my fair share of moments with people cut from the same cloth because they always manage to pick out the new people and try to impress them and I have been new alot in the last 5 yrs. Needless to say my dear friend was NOT inpressed and her rig pulled 3 1D checks the night this happened. I guess since she came to East Texas and whipped them she is now "A Big Deal" The offenders words not mine.

 As a competitor doing your best to avoid negative influences during your time preparing can help you avoid these moments incase you are less equipped than my friend was to handle them. Sometimes this works sometimes it does not. I have learned who to avoid while I am getting ready, from the snarling person that runs over you in the warm up pen to the snide quote un-quote "Friends" who make comments that teeter on the edge of trying to say they don't think you are capable. It takes all kinds to play with your mind and how you choose to take it is strictly up to you.




So Thankful...

Posted on November 23, 2010 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

As Thanksgiving approaches we are all encouraged to give thanks, be thankful, and share what we are thankful for. I for one am thankful so many things it would annoy you so I am going to touch on this.


The National Finals Rodeo and the Barrel Futurities of America World Championships is coming up right after Thanksgiving. If there was ever something to remind those of us in the Barrel Horse Industry to be thankful, these are it. They are the culmination of a dream. The events horse trainers, breeders, and owners work for all year. These 2 events set the bar for national recognition of everyone involved with a great horse. Those 2 events can and do alter the Barrel Horse Industry every year. The significance is overwhelming and sitting here typing, thinking about being a part of it gives me goosebumps.


I hope that everyone out there getting ready for the big weeks ahead has taken a moment to stop and remember what thanks really is. There is drama, conflict, hurt horses, hurt feelings, and hurt ego's but none of that should take away from being proud of what you do and thankful you get to do it. Hopefully you do it with integrity and honesty. Good luck to everyone through the holidays and we'll see you in the city.