Horse World

The cutting edge for animal welfare

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

By Sally Harrison

The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), producer of the world’s richest equine events outside of racing and a leader in animal welfare, recently unveiled a custom-built horse ambulance to be available on-site at all major NCHA events.

“We were the first western stock horse performance association to develop a medication policy and now we are the first to provide an on-site ambulance with a specially trained emergency team,” said Lindy Burch, past president of the association and chairman of its Horse and Cattle Welfare Committee.

“Hopefully we never have an accident, but if we do, we can safely and easily move an animal into the ambulance, where it can be stabilized by our on-site veterinarian, and transported from the arena to an emergency equine veterinary clinic.”

Jerry Durant, owner of Durant Auto Group and a cutting horse owner, has donated the use of a new Chevy pickup for the ambulance during the NCHA shows.

The ambulance was custom built by Kyle Zanetti Trailers, Weatherford, Tex., with input from Burch, NCHA Welfare Committee member Chris Benedict, and two equine sports veterinary specialists. Its many features include a hydraulic ramp and a winch-operated Becker sling system to stabilize or suspend a horse, depending on its injuries.

“I make trailers for people who want special features that regular manufacturers can’t provide,” said owner Kyle Zanetti, who builds custom trailers with the help of six employees. “The NCHA Equine Ambulance was a collaboration with Lindy and Chris, who told me what was needed and shared their knowledge. But I did everything in my shop and have had my hands on every part of this trailer.”

“We as cutters are very proactive in caring for our horses,” Burch pointed out. “We love them, we want to protect their welfare in training and during competition, and having an equine ambulance at our events will give us peace of mind that we are better prepared, if an accident does take place.”

The sport of cutting evolved from cattle roundups, where calves were separated from their mothers for branding by cowboys or cowgirls on horseback. Today’s cutting competition demands highly skilled and conditioned athletes able to counter evasive calves with powerful precision, and at breath-taking speed.

Lindy Burch

“They are just like human athletes,” noted Burch, an NCHA Open World Champion, Hall of Fame Rider, and NCHA Open Futurity Champion, who has been showing for four decades. “Sometimes they get sore or injured during training and we treat and rehab them. But in all the years I have been competing, I have seen very few horses incur a serious injury during competition, because we do everything we can do to keep them comfortable and in optimum shape.

“Still, it is good to know the ambulance is there, if something does happen to a horse or even a cow. And in the future, we hope to make it available to other equine events.”

In addition to the hydraulic ramp and winch-operated sling system, the ambulance can be lowered 3 ½ inches for ease of loading, and also carries a special “sled” that can be placed underneath a prostrate animal and winched inside the trailer.

Other features full air-ride suspension; alleys and doors to provide easy access to the animal from both sides; a 12 volt LED lighting system; a converter-charging system so that it can be plugged into a 110 volt outlet, when parked; cushioned Polylast flooring with anti-fungal and bacterial properties; and ample storage and refrigeration for medical supplies.

While the NCHA Equine Ambulance is the first of its kind for Kyle Zanetti Trailers, as well as for the performance horse world, it is not the only “first” with a Zanetti stamp. Last year, Kyle designed and built an 18-horse trailer for cutting horse trainer Adan Banuelos.

“That is an ultimate trailer,” said Zanetti of the Banuelos rig. “When somebody says nobody can do it, I say give me a shot. I grew up in this business and I love it, and I am always going to offer a premiere product.”

For additional information or photo images, contact Lindy Burch, Chairman of the NCHA Horse and Cattle Welfare Committee, at or Julie Davis, NCHA Member Services Director, at

All-Time Record for NCHA Futurity Sales

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

It was the best of times and the best of times, from Monday, December 8 through Saturday, December 13, as Western Bloodstock Ltd.’s 2014 NCHA Futurity Sales set sale session records and concluded with an all-time average of $27,696 – 23% above the previous record of $21,370 set in 2006.

“We felt that sales would be strong, but we never imagined we would top the record average by such a huge amount,” said Jeremy Barwick, who along with his wife, Candace, purchased Western Bloodstock Ltd. in 2012. Last year’s NCHA Futurity Sales average came within $48.00 of breaking the old record.

“We are grateful to the consignors and buyers and feel privileged to be able to contribute to the growth of the cutting horse industry,” added Barwick.

From a total of six sessions, over six days, 614 horses, representing 84% of those offered, sold for a gross of $17,005,850.

The high-selling horse from all sales was 2-year-old Eight Mile, at $400,000. The Metallic Cat son was consigned by his breeder, Crown Ranch, and purchased by Daniel and Nancy Burkes, Hibbing, Minn.

The high-seller on December 13, the last day of the sales, was Bet On A Cat , by High Brow Cat, also consigned by Crown Ranch, and purchased for $110,00 by The Over Forty Ranch, Wichita Falls, Tex.

The top 10 selling lots from all sales averaged $206,200; the top 20 lots averaged $163,400. There were 20 horses that sold for $100,000 or more.

Complete results and catalog can be found at

Another benchmark with Western Bloodstock Producers Sale

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Western Bloodstock Ltd. set another Futurity Sales benchmark with its Producers Sale on Wednesday, December 10, at Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth, where 93% of the 57 consigned horses sold for an average of $8,997. At last year’s sale, 85% of the consignments sold for an average of $4,800.

On Monday, December 8, Western Bloodstock Ltd. launched its 2014 NCHA Futurity Sales with a record-setting Two-Year-Old Sale where 122 sold for an average of $32,579. On Tuesday, December 9, the Western Bloodstock’s Select Yearling Sale and Gala realized an average of $71,655 with 84% completed sales.

At Wednesday’s Western Bloodstock Producers Sale, the high-seller was Metallic Al at $30,000. The yearling son of Metallic Cat was consigned by Jerry Rava and purchased by Scotty Rice, Weatherford, Tex.

The second- highest seller, at $25,000, was Playadualin, a yearling colt sired by Playgun and consigned by David Hartman DVM. Kenneth Munseell, Andrews, Tex., was the buyer.

Jared Lesh, Whitesboro, Tex., purchased Cutters Edge Cat, the third-highest seller, for $19,500. The 8-year-old daughter of High Brow Cat was consigned by David Barr’s Rosemont Cattle Company.

The NCHA Futurity Sales continue through Saturday, December 13 Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth. For catalog and results go to

2014 NCHA Futurity Select Yearling Sale & Gala – A Night to Remember

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Tappin A Cold Brew at $255,000

Western Bloodstock Ltd. reached a benchmark on Tuesday, December 9, with the second consecutive day of record-breaking NCHA Futurity Sales, as the Select Yearling Sale realized over $3 million on 41 horses sold, with an average of $69,134 and 82% completed sales.

On Monday, December 8, the opening day of Western Bloodstock’s 2014 Futurity sales venue, the NCHA Futurity 2-Year-Old Sale set all-time 2-year-old sales records in terms of high-selling horses and percentage sold at public auction, so expectations were high for the Select Yearling Sale.

“It was an exciting night, with the finest yearlings the industry has to offer selling to so many of the industry’s top owners and trainers,” said Jeremy Barwick, Western Bloodstock Ltd., of Tuesday’s sale.

Tappin A Cold Brew, consigned by Waco Bend Ranch, Ltd., topped the Select Yearling Sale at $255,000. The Smooth As A Cat colt, three-quarter brother to cutting’s all-time high-money-earning mare, Dont Look Twice LTE $823,504, sold to David Taurel, Whitesboro, Tex.

Copperish, a Metallic Cat daughter consigned by Double Dove Ranch, was the second-highest seller at $210,000. Out of Stylish Play Lena LTE $289,524, and half-sister to Hottish LTE $301,843; Pepto Bloom LTE $244,783; Halreycious LTE $227,459; and Reydiculous LTE $149,054, Copperish was purchased by Jimmie Miller Smith, Gary, Okla.

The NCHA Futurity Sales continue through Saturday, December 13, at Will Rogers Equestrian Center, Fort Worth, Tex. For a schedule of sales and complete catalog, as well as sale results, visit

Sheila Welch, 1938 – 2014

Monday, December 8th, 2014

By Sally Harrison
Sheila Dolin Welch, 76, an NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame inductee and wife of cutting legend Buster Welch, passed away on Sunday, December 7.

Born in Wolf Point, Montana, Sheila acquired a love of horses from her grandfather Dolin, an entrepreneur and newspaper publisher who served on the board the Wolf Point Stampede and counted Will Rogers and Charles Russell among his friends.

When she was 10, Sheila’s family moved to Fresno, Calif., where she won her first award on horseback, as a participant in the annual Christmas parade. Although she was competitive in tennis, volleyball and gymnastics as a girl, her natural instincts for riding led her to the California Rangerettes, where she participated as a drill team member for six years. During this time she also made forays into jumping, dressage, roping, cutting and gymkhana events, and was runner-up queen of the Salinas Rodeo.

After attending California State University at Fresno, Sheila married and helped her first husband operate a busy feedlot. At the time, she also found herself drawn away from other horse events and into cutting, which had only recently created a class for non-pro contenders.

Although her first cutting horse had been trained by famed West Coast horseman Jimmy Williams, Texas was the home of cutting horse competition and in 1966, Sheila traveled to the Lone Star State for a clinic given by Buster Welch, who would win his third NCHA Futurity that same year.

“I was awestruck,” Buster later said of his first impression of Sheila on horseback. “She could really ride a horse and she was sure pretty on one.” Seven months following the clinic, Sheila won the NCHA Non-Pro World Championship Finals, defeating B.F. Phillips, Jr., the Non-Pro World Champion.

Sheila and Buster married in 1972, and in addition to nurturing their combined families of six children (Nina and Dolin Morris, and Georgia, Greg, Ken and Ruth Ann Welch), Sheila became a top ranchhand, assisting Buster with his cattle operation and semi-annual roundups.

In 1974, Sheila and Buster moved to the King Ranch, where Buster had been hired as trainer, as well as consultant for the world famous ranch’s Quarter Horse program. It was during this time that Sheila came to know her cherished mentor and friend, Helen Groves, great-granddaughter of King Ranch founder Richard King.

In 1972 and 1978, Sheila ranked among NCHA’s Top Ten non-pro riders aboard Mr San Peppy and Peppy San Badger, respectively. In 1980, she won the NCHA Non-Pro World Champion on Doc O Leo and broke an all-time annual NCHA earnings record for open and non-pro riders, alike. She also set a record that year by winning all four go-rounds of the NCHA Non-Pro World Championship.

Sheila’s prestigious wins in “limited age” events include the NCHA Non-Pro Super Stakes, on Dolly Olena; the Augusta Futurity, on CD Chica San Badger; and the Memphis Futurity on Haidas Becky. With a record of more than $1 million, she is among cutting’s all-time leading money earners.

Rather than retire from competition when felled by a stroke in 1999, Sheila used riding as a tool for recovery. In May 2001, she made a triumphant return to the cutting arena by winning the reserve championship of the NCHA Non-Pro Gelding Stakes on Myhaida.

“When people ask me about my favorite win, I always tell them it’s the last one because I might not have another,” said Sheila, who has been featured in articles in Sports Illustrated, New York Magazine, Town & Country, and Texas Monthly.

As a cutting competitor, Sheila inspired men and women, alike. “You watch Sheila,” the late NCHA Futurity champion trainer Larry Reeder told fledgling rider Kathy Daughn. “This lady can ride a cutting horse as pretty as anybody you’ll ever see.”

“Sheila has been a great inspiration to me,” said Daughn, who ranks as one of only two women (Lindy Burch, another admirer of Sheila Welch, is the other) among cutting’s top ten all-time professional money earners.

Reflecting several years ago on a life dedicated to family, horses and the Western tradition, Sheila said, “The two things most difficult to find in life are a good husband and a good horse, and I was lucky to find both.”

Arrangements for services are pending.

The Ghost Horse

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

A book with the title “The Ghost Horse – A True Story of Love, Death, and Redemption” is one that would not ordinarily interest me. But the author’s name gave me pause, so I picked it up.

Joe Layden, a New York Times best-selling author and award-winning journalist, connects on a gut level in the unvarnished story of 57-year-old, small-time race trainer Tim Snyder and a $4,500 filly Snyder named Lisa’s Booby Trap, in honor of his late wife, who had galloped horses for a living and said before she died of ovarian cancer in 2003 that she wanted to be reincarnated as a horse.

“Horse racing is not so much a business as it is a calling,” notes Layden. “The work requires too much time and energy to pursue it with anything less than utter passion; and even then, the odds against success can seem practically insurmountable. But for those who are drawn into the game, particularly at a young age, success and failure are almost irrelevant. Theirs is an obsession that must be fed, often without regard to the usual societal constraints, or the expectations set forth by family and friends.”

Such was the case of Snyder, a jockey’s son born in the first-aid station at a small Massachusetts racetrack, always on the lookout for a big break, but nevertheless the practical philosopher.

“For most of us it’s a really rough life,” Snyder told Layden. “It doesn’t matter how pretty they are, they’re still horses, and what goes on in the barn in the morning is what really matters. All that other stuff – the braided tail, the colorful silks, the guy wearing a suit in the paddock, in the afternoon, before the race? That’s all window dressing.”

Unlike Snyder’s unceremonious backside birth, Lisa’s Booby Trap was bred and raised at Florida’s prestigious Ocala Stud and nominated at birth to the Breeders’ Cup. But as an early 2-year-old, she showed little promise and Ocala Stud handed her off to horse broker John Shaw.

“She was a good-looking horse, big and strong, with a decent pedigree,” Shaw told Layden. “Not great, but respectable. But when I tried to work her? Jesus Christmas, she was slow. I practically had to time this horse with a sundial. It was ridiculous.”

Shaw, in turn, handed the filly over to another broker, Don Hunt. “My deal with Don was ‘Come and get her, try to do something with her. I gotta tell you though, she’s so slow you have to mark the ground to make sure she’s moving.”

Ultimately, the filly ended up with Snyder, who paid $2,000 down, with a promise to remit the remaining $2,500 from her earnings. In her first start, at Finger Lakes Racetrack, where Snyder camped out in a tack room, Lisa’s Booby Trap won a maiden special weight by 17¾ lengths, After her second start, won by 10½ lengths, Snyder was offered $50,000 for Lisa’s Booby Trap, but turned it down. He did the same when offered $125,000, following her third start, which she won by 8½ lengths.

From Finger Lakes it was on to renowned Saratoga Race Course, where Lisa’s Booby Trap won $42,000, as the six-length winner of the Loudonville Stakes. By now the all but throw-away filly had won four races out of four starts, by a total of 42½ lengths. And her story had just begun.

“Breeding is as much about hope and luck as it is science,” says Layden, a longtime racing fan. “You throw all that DNA into a blender and hit the switch, and then you stand back and let nature take its course.”

Or perhaps, as in the case of Lisa’s Booby Trap, let love takes its course.

“I don’t really believe so much in reincarnation,” Snyder has been quoted as saying. “It’s a big word, you know what I mean? But, there are a lot of things in this horse that resemble my wife.”

Clarence Scharbauer Jr., 1925 – 2014

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Prominent horseman Clarence Scharbauer, Jr., 88, who owned 1987 Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba, died Friday, February 22, following emergency surgery.

Scharbauer’s family founded Scharbauer Cattle Company near Midland, Tex., in 1901, and established one of the largest herds in the west. Later their cattle country yielded a rich bonus of oil from the Permian Basin. Clarence Jr. assumed the reins of the family businesses in 1946, several years after the death of his father, when the giant ranching enterprise covered nearly 500,000 acres in west Texas and southeast New Mexico.

Scharbauer’s reputation as a renowned horseman was well-earned. He served as president of the American Quarter Horse Association when the one-millionth horse was registered; saw Marion’s Girl, a mare that he bred, become a world champion cutting horse; campaigned the champion race stallion Double Bid; and was influential in the development of Lone Star Park and the drive to return pari-mutuel racing to Texas.

“I was raised on the ranch and on horses,” said Scharbauer. “It doesn’t make any difference if it’s a Quarter Horse, a Shetland, a Percheron, a Thoroughbred, I know what I’m looking at.”

In 1991, Scharbauer and his wife, Dorothy, who passed away in 2005, built Valor Farm near Pilot Point, Texas. The state-of-the-art Thoroughbred breeding facility, with 18 miles of fence and four showcase barns, is home to some of the top stallions in the Southwest.

The couple’s interest in Thoroughbreds began with the 1959 Kentucky Derby, which Dorothy’s father, Fred Turner Jr., won with Tomy Lee. With the goal of winning another Derby, the Scharbauers began buying Thoroughbred yearlings in 1984 and never lost their passion for the sport. According to longtime Valor Farm manager Ken Carson, the Scharbauer-bred filly Fiftyshadesofgold won the Texas Stallion Stakes at Sam Houston Park last weekend, which Scharbauer was able to watch via the internet.

In addition to many other honors, Scharbauer was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame (1992), as well as the the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame (2001); was a recipient of the National Golden Spur Award (1991); and received the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2007).

Scharbauer is survived by son Clarence Scharbauer III and wife, Kerry, of Midland; son Douglas Scharbauer and wife, Karen, of Midland; son Chris Scharbauer and wife, LaVonne, of Amarillo; daughter Pamela Scharbauer of Palm Springs, Calif., and numerous grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending with Nalley-Pickle and Welch Funeral Home in Midland.