One of Chris's first questions to the ear specialist was, "when can I wakeboard again?". The doctor, who had a deep wound from forehead to behind his ear from "hitting a tree with his head while on a bike", (mountain bike), told Chris he could wakeboard in a week or so. As long as Chris had a type of puddy plug in his ear. The specialist seemed to know about extreme sports and what they mean to people who enjoy.
The doctor also instructed Chris to keep dust and dirt from his ear. Chris told the doctor and nurse he trained horses and barns and arenas are dusty. The ear doc replied that probably best to stay out of barn for a few days. At least a couple. What did Chris do? Worked in barn from the next day on.
My husband's work ethic has always amazed me. Reminds me of my daddy's who worked as a TVA lineman for 50 years.
I remember when Chris and I began being a team competing in team penning. Then he learned to rope. There to reining. Dedicated he was. As an amateur rider and person.
Chris had worked in local factories from high school graduation, 1991 until 2000. Nights. About 2 am one of those nights, I woke up to see Chris standing at the door. He said, "I lost my job..." I said good, threw back the covers and told him to come to bed. Within a week he had a barn full of training horses and hasn't looked back. I knew God had a plan for him, it was to be a horse trainer. I had felt that way for several years. Happily it was falling into place. Knowing the career would be a perfect fit. It has been.
His work ethic showed up right away in his new business. We had only a regular old round pen on the farm and a dusty when hot, a mud puddle when rainy and cold outdoor arena. Chris used those for colt starting.
We had the large outside arena. However, when it rained or there was snow on the ground no riding could be done. On those yucky days Chris would ride in grass fields. It amazed me to look out of the barn while picking stalls to watch him ride in rain. Chris would say, "people don't pay me to have their horse stand in a stall". Of course there were a few days a month where it was impossible to ride. He rode extra days into the next month for free to make those days up.
Chris has always been incredibly honest. Sometimes too. Not too honest. Just too bluntly.
A grandpa called Chris looking for his granddaughter, who was around 7, a horse. All those years ago you could buy a broke kids horse for around $3,000. The grandfather said oh no. He was looking for something around $500. Chris told the man he'd be paying over $3,000 for an ER visit for a little girl with a broken arm or worse. Not only that she'd probably have a fear of horses and perhaps never ride again. (There are many, many other brutally honest tales but we'll not get into all those.)
We managed to build, with barn raising day with friends and customers, a 60x120 covered arena with chicken house metal trusses. It was just too hard to ride horses as owners expected without one. Owners want to know you are riding. Not watching rain.
Honesty almost saved him a left elbow around 2004ish. He was breaking a young horse for a lady which was a bit rank. Chris called the lady after about 30 days and told her to come pick the horse up. The animal would end up hurting Chris and he knew it.
The lady said she could come pick up in couple days. Chris told her he'd ride till then. That very afternoon the horse did a small buck, not bad, but just at a weird enough angle that Chris came down and completely shattered his elbow. What did he do after doctor's visit with a sling over his arm, surgery date and strict instructions NOT to ride nor be in dirt (which could cause a bone infection)? Ride. I remember looking out while cooking supper and seeing him lope circles. I was so mad!
Well, he healed. A ceramic elbow with an arm that won't totally straighten the only evidence of a shattered elbow from riding a horse that business wise he didn't have to. But as Chris wise he did.
In 2009 we saved enough to manage a farm and home to build a 250x350 covered pen in place of the outdoor. Chris said he just couldn't be competitive riding in a small, narrow arena when outdoor arena was wet. Not in reining. Not for long rundowns and changing leads.
Chris began training business around the year 2000. At that time up and coming trainers didn't go live with, ride established trainer's horses, then show, and then go out to build their own business. Chris began at a time you learned from talking to other local trainers and watching and learning at horse shows. Oh. And watching good videos. VHS videos! (I just really aged us!)
It's been hard for him to grow in the era of million dollar riders who have a slew of youngsters learning at those trainers feet everyday. (ALL of this is my opinion. Not my hubs. Just my behind the scenes observations.) I am so proud of Chris's abilities and work ethic and desire and owners who've believed in him and gotten him better and better horses. I'm proud that he's made the Tulsa finals a couple of times, NRHA Futurity and Derby finals and Congress Futurity several times along with slews of AQHA, APHA, and NRHA affiliate awards. Pretty much on his own with horses, his friends and customers who have trusted him. Who wouldn't be proud of what he's done, endured, loved? Couldn't be proud?
Oh. One more thing, (ugh. I could have a million one more things...), Chris has also managed to keep his fees competitive. In part because neither of us feel debt from fancy rigs and such is needed. It's not about what you drive onto a show ground. What matters is what backs off.
Yep. He loves horses. And riding. And teaching. But he loves a hobby too. And that little free time he works on the farm for
(and none really, really sees the true work and sacrifices he makes. They may THINK they do. But they do not know the truth of 16 years of labor which is not only physical but also emotional)
......is worth a busted eardrum. For both of us....
Trophy or not he always smiles.
TQHA multiple award winner.
Midnight riding. Vampire riding.
Blue. Multiple APHA titles.
Worn out many.
Patches when he can
1995. Jed. Multiple AQHA awards and AQHA World Show qualifier in reining, working cowhorse and team roping. Best amateur horse because an amateur learned foundation of three cowboy events by training the majority alone. We traveled many, many miles in a little, rusty metal Circle M horse trailer with Jed. Learned it's not what you drive but what backs out the door that matters.
*****all my words. I know very little of training and Chris program and the horse industry anymore. He'll probably say Marna, that's sooo wrong. (But Chris still asks what a blog is so I know he won't read it. Sooo I can write anything I wish. Right?) Oh well. In my eyes he's the best trainer out there. None of us are perfect though. No trainer. Nope, not one. But he's pretty dadgum close in many areas.
Isn't this how a spouse should feel? Know the weak points but magnify the wonderful?
Christopher Robin Hood.....for all your horse training, breaking body parts and boat needs........
I intentionally left out all the injuries from dirt bikes, motorcycles and mountain bikes..oh lawsy day.
Many more farm pics I could attach but won't. Few different ones under blog "Horses" tab above.