A Big Win for My Students, The Snaffle Bit Futurity, Roping, and A Hot Tip

LV_sparky_403x403Hi folks! I want to start off by saying CONGRATULATIONS to my students, Luke Jones and Kenny Schuler! Luke and Kenny both won big championships August 31 at the South Dakota Reined Cow Horse Association. Luke was the Futurity Reserve Champion with a smoking score of 147 going down the fence and was also the Derby Champion with a huge score of 151 on fence work. Kenny Schuler won the Non-Pro Championship. I’m really proud of them both! Congratulations again!

I’m going to show Sparky at the Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, Nevada. I may show him in the Two-Rein and Open as well. It all depends on how he schools in the next two weeks. Lately he’s been schooling really well. I’ve been focusing a lot on his fence work, getting him to slow his turns down and to stop deeper and straighter. He is starting to feel pretty good. I’m getting a good result from my efforts in that respect. All of our horses, Luke Jones’ and mine, are fit, fat, happy, and sound, so we are looking good for Reno!

I’ve also been roping a lot lately in preparation for the World Series of Team Roping on September 13 in Salinas, California. It’s a big pay in roping, and I’m kind of excited about that.

Training tips:

  • Change bits when you feel your horse’s attitude changing negatively, such as getting a little angry or anxious. The bit change should instantly change his attitude.
  • To help lift a horse’s shoulders (a horse that uses too much weight in the front), set the bit high in his mouth.
  • To help a horse drop his neck, leave the mouthpiece of the bit as low as 1/2” down from the corners of his mouth.

Remember that you will have to adjust the curb strap to compensate for changes to ensure that you have enough leverage to get some response from the bit.


Wagon wheel bit

A One-of-a-Kind Headstall and the Bit that Helped Create Champions

Les Vogt and Dave Murray

Les Vogt and Dave Murray

TBillet headstall made by Danny Murrayhe late Danny Murray made the headstall shown in the photo. He is the twin brother of Dave Murray. They both have very similar styles. This particular headstall was given to me in the 1970’s by Danny before he passed away. The silver on the headstall is what makes it unique. Not only does it have that distinct Murray style evident in its design and engraving, but all the silver hardware on the headstall is made from billet.Billet Headstall made by Danny Murray

Billet means it was cut out of one piece of metal. This gives it a clean look as it wasn’t pieced together using several smaller sections. You’ll likely never see another headstall made from billet silver like this. The engraving is in a class of its own, which is representative of the type of work Dave Murray does. Dave lives in Billings, Montana, and in my opinion, is one of the best there is.

Here, you’re looking at bit history—the first of the first!  There’s an interesting story that goes along with this wagon wheel bit with the swept back cheeks. It was used by both Chex N Nic aWagon wheel bitnd Tux N Tails. Chex N Nic is in the National Rein Cow Horse Association’s Hall of Fame. Tux N Tails probably would have beat him out, but I never really thought about putting his name in the hat.

Tux n Tails and Chex N Nic were supreme cow horse champions. This bit was key to their success. There was another bit or two I used, but we’ll discuss those in the future. Both horses were a little high necked, so they needed to drop their necks down a bit so they could work better during their runs. This bit was the result of some experimentation. I moved the mouthpiece up just a little bit to increase the leverage, and it helped drop the necks on both horses.

As far as I know, this bit was the first to have a calculated leverage position regarding how far the mouthpiece was placed on the shank. The calculated mouthpiece is a wonderful thing. It really worked, and helped launch both of these horses into the championship circle.

Santa Barbara Star Bit

This bit was so successful that I use calculated leverage positions on all the bits that I sell now, including this one that has the exact leverage of the wagon wheel bit. The high leverage bits help drop the neck and the low leverage bits help lift the shoulders.

Thanks for reading!



Les Vogt carrying a flag on the Rancheros Visitadores ride.

A Mane Event and Historic Ride

lv-visitadores_403x403Last week I returned from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, where I spent four days at the Mane Event Horse Fair. It was a wonderful experience. There were a number of us clinicians there, and everyone was wonderful to be around. We all taught different disciplines, and it was very educational for me. I expanded my knowledge about the equine industry and the different equine disciplines and activities.

Sales were good. The Canadian economy seems to be thriving, and the demand for clinics is strong. When I got home I had three emails from people who would like to put on clinics, and around ten more inquiries. I really enjoyed the people, the new faces, and everything about Canada, the Canadians, and the Mane Event. It was a wonderful experience.

Now I’m on the Rancheros Visitadores annual ride. At least 1,000 mounted cowboys participate in the ride with around a 1,000 more who basically take care of the cooking and horse care. For a little competition, we rope, shoot cannons, crack whips, trap shoot, throw horse shoes, play bocce ball, ping pong, pool, and just about anything else we can think of to do. I enjoy the camaraderie the most though. This is the most unique group of guys that I could possibly imagine spending time with. I appreciate the opportunity every year to go to the Rancheros Visitadores ride. I’ll talk to you in a week when I get back!



This year I got to lead the parade as flag bearer



Warming up for roping


Reserve Champion goes to Chris Cox and me!


Hey! I won second and forth in the team roping!


Gus Rodriguez won my custom silver award bit for the Team Roper Championship


Frankie Martinez won my custom silver award spurs for the Team Roper Championship

Les Vogt on the Rancheros Visitadores ride.

My brother Chet Vogt

The Starter Roper Bit

6 Roping Bits that Could Help Get You to the Pay Window

Hi folks! I’m here to talk to you about Fast Time Bits. They come in 6 optimal designs to help increase the performance of horses. The bits have different levels of power and will utilize different pressure points on a horse’s mouth. Some have brand new (to the industry) pressure points that encourage different reactions.

The 6 unique mouthpieces graduate in power. The more powerful the horse, the more power on the bit. Fast Time Bits help eliminate busy signals from your horse. Each bit also has a calculated leverage to help distribute weight to the hindquarters.

All of these bits will help your horse break flatter because they have higher leverage. The higher leverage drops the neck near the front of the horn, not up at the poll so much or in the mid-range. This moves that big head and neck out of the way so we can see what we’re roping. It also helps smooth a horse out and helps with collection. All of these bits help achieve better performance because of leverage, ratio, and power.

I’ve created a quick guide to help you choose the bit that’s right for your horse, whether you rope, do mounted shooting, or barrel race.

The Starter Roper Bit

The Starter is the mildest bit in the Fast Time Bit series. It is a low power bit. The mouthpiece is similar to a snaffle and has extreme flexibility. You’ll find horses that have a tendency to be a little nervous or anxious about being in the box or wherever you’re riding them, like a barrel horse or a rope horse, definitely like the flexibility. It’s a mild bit because it increases in pressure one part at a time. It has so much pre-signal that nothing grabs the horse instantly. This makes it a great bit for green horses too. It’s quite popular with barrel racers, ropers, and mounted shooters.

The Developer Roper Bit

The Developer is a step up from the Starter. It has a narrow chain port, and is also very flexible. There are some chain links on both sides of the mouthpiece, which helps your horse feel more relaxed. The Developer has a little bit more authority and creates a little more respect than the Starter. There’s nothing severe about it, but it gives you a little bit more of an authoritative feeling.



The Collector Roper BitThe Collector has a double swivel mouthpiece and copper rollers on the bars. It’s made for a different pressure point and it puts a little pressure on the tongue, which is different than the other bits. There are actually six pressure points, the lips, pallet, tongue, straight down on the bars (or outside edges of the bars), and the chin via the curb chain. The Collector is a really popular bit that gets you what you want as a middle of the road bit goes. With the Collector horses tend to relax and run the cattle really clean.

The Sidewinder Roper BitThe Sidewinder is one of my favorites. It has a wider chain port than the Developer. The wide chain port fits a little differently on the pressure points as it comes down the outside corners of the mouth. I use the Sidewinder on a horse that has a tendency, like a heel horse might, to drop his shoulder in the corners. Whether roping, mounted shooting, or barrel racing, it’s important to keep the horses shoulders up. The Sidewinder helps to move the horse’s shoulders laterally and helps collect a horse up, so that the neck stays down and out of the way. It’s not a severe bit. It’s fairly flexible because of the chain links. The mouthpiece has all kinds of breaks in it and it gives your horse plenty of time to respond before he feels the pressure of the chain.

The Negotiator Roper BitThe Negotiator is what I use on both my heel horses right now. It’s a high-port, solid mouthpiece bit. It’s a bit that we showed horses with in the cow horse classes for years. The mouthpiece has a lot of authority, but it doesn’t scare them at all if used correctly. I like my rope horses to have a little more feel than some people do, and the Negotiator helps create that. Some horses, though, stay more relaxed with a broken mouthpiece like the Starter.


The Adjuster Roper BitThe Adjuster is the most powerful. It will help you regulate speed and create respect. The Adjuster is for anyone who has a fire breather—a horse that puts a little more into it than we would like them to—or doesn’t rate quite so well. It also helps a horse to stop harder. For example, if you have a heel horse that isn’t getting into the ground, this bit can help. The Adjuster sure will help your horse score better, break flatter, and help control your positioning adjustment without so much work on the part of the rider. It is a wonderful bit that has pallet pressure on the outside of the bars. I’ve never seen it not be successful on a horse that has a slight problem running the cattle a little fast. I use it on my horses, and then go back to the Negotiator.

Sparky’s in the Bridle, New Bit Designs, and Spring Clinics

Hi folks, just a quick blog regarding what I’ve been doing lately. Last month I went to Allerton Iowa to see and help my dear friend Luke Jones. Luke has some futurity horses this year for 2014 that are as good as I’ve ever seen. Luke is getting better every year; he’s one of my favorite students of all time plus a great friend. Luke and his family are really good people. I expect big things to happen with Luke. The only thing I wish was different during my visit was the weather. It was so cold there! They thought it was a heat wave, but 25 degrees to me was too cold to go outside!

I’ve been roping a lot. I won a roping last month and went to the Perfect 10 Roping in Las Vegas. Sparky, my little wonder horse, is doing really well too. I’ve been riding him quite a lot getting him in the bridle. Hopefully, I’ll have him ready to show at Salinas. Last year I went to Salinas with him to the California Rodeo, which is a big deal out here in the west. He was second. He could have been first, but the crowd, all the fireworks, the rodeo and everything happening at the same time kind of scared him a little. Hopefully he’ll have matured, and we’ll win in the bridle. He’s really a good bridle horse.

Les Vogt teaching a clinicSpring clinics are happening! I went to Northern California for a clinic and I have one in May near Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’m anxious to get going! I’m having fun at the clinics. I’ve added some new things to my program that I’m excited to share with everyone. If you aren’t able to book a clinic, be sure to show up for one! 

I’m still working really hard on the line of bits that I’m doing in partnership with Classic Equine. It’s been a big effort, a two year process. We’re getting it right, and hope to have the 18 bit line “Classic Equine by Les Vogt” launched by this fall.

That’s all for now! Have a great weekend!

Photo Story: Royal Cutter, Bob Chex, and Chex of Chex

Vintage photo of Les Vogt on hackamore horse with fellow competitors

Left to Right: Fred Smith; Tommy Sondgroth; Billy Arthur on Chex of Chex; Les Vogt on Bob Chex; Kenny Sutton on Royal Cutter

This photo was taken during the 1970’s, which were some wonderful times that I thought would last forever. At that time, I was blessed with the King Fritz horses, the Chex horses. I had quite a few of them. When I first rode one, It was like all of a sudden, I was a really good horse trainer. I thought it was me, but it really wasn’t. It was the access to those remarkable, wonderful, and great horses! This photo brings back such great memories.

On the far right is Kenny Sutton riding “Royal Cutter.” Kenny was a gentleman horseman–a real horseman and a real gentleman. He was one of those trainers that really studied the art of horsemanship. I never saw Kenny do anything but complement a horse. He was also blessed with some of the greatest horses that ever lived.

Royal Cutter was one of Kenny’s best horses. Bobby Ingersoll helped Kenny train him and did a lot of the work on him. Another one of his great horses was a horse that Don Dodge trained called, “Right Now.” Both horses were way ahead of their time and could have been kings of the road today. They were as great as any horse out there.

Royal Cutter was a Cutter Bill. He was out of a mare called Royal Ida May, a Royal King mare. He was so great! Kenny jumped on him and showed him at the Snaffle Bit Futurity and won the Open and the Non-Pro, then came back and won the Hackamore the next year. Then, the year after that, he won the Bridle. He was invincible!

He was the horse to beat for many years. Whether shown by Kenny or Bobby Ingersoll. He was as great a horse as I have ever seen in today’s world or yesteryear. This is a magic picture to have of him and Kenny.

The Cutter Bills had an interesting impact on California. I think it was a negative impact. What happened was, Royal Cutter was so dominant with Kenny and Bobby that all of us went and bought Cutter Bill horses in Texas. I went as far as to buy Royal Ida May, the mother of Royal Cutter. I thought I’d breed her to King Fritz and watch out world! I also bought the full sister to Royal Cutter.

Well the full sister was no good at all. She was as disappointing as could be. She was stiff as a board and didn’t want to be a good horse. Royal Ida May never produced anything at all, except Royal Cutter. Royal Cutter was a freak, a one-time deal.

So everybody bought Cutter Bills. I mean all the trainers. You had to have a Cutter Bill. Frankly speaking, I think it set the industry back by about 10 years. It was way more work than we planned on, and we did not get paid for the work. We just didn’t get the results that we thought we would with a Cutter Bill. We all decided that they were not good. But because of it, we had to deal with those blood lines for a while. Now they have just gone by the way-side.

Next to Kenny it the picture is yours truly on Bob Chex (second over from the right). He was by King Fritz and out of a Buzzy Bell H mare (a halter horse mare). I had him and a full brother to him. They kind of lied to you once in a while, but boy could they do the deal! Bob was the Hackamore Champion for the year. I can still feel him stopping under me and turning the cow. He was pretty darn good. I really liked him; however, he wasn’t the favorite of favorites.

The favorite of favorites of some of the old wonderful horses I got to ride, the horses that really helped make me who I am right now, was Chex of Chex.

In the photo, Billy Arthur is on Chex of Chex (third over from the right). Billy worked for me at the time. He then went on to win the Snaffle Bit Futurity. When I started Chex of Chex, he started out so slow that I didn’t think he was going to make it. He was a touchy, big, strong horse, but quick as a cat. He was way before his time, believe me, before his time. Neal and Linda Mussallum owned him at the time. He was out of Camay Five, a Scarborough Ranch Mare. She was a lot bigger too and her ears stuck straight out the side of her head. She had shoulders and forearms like a work horse, but she was a friendly horse.

She also produced Panda Chex. Panda Chex made a lot of money cutting and doing everything else. Johnny Brazil showed her.

Chex of Chex and Bob Chex both had a lot of bend to them, a lot of flex. They were incredible stopping horses, and incredible fence horses. You can look at them in the picture and see they had a little leg under them. They could run and catch a cow and really stop.

I think Chex of Chex could turn around as fast as any other horse I have seen. Royal Cutter was right there with him. Bob Chex would have been a little bit behind; he was fast but not quite as fast.

Chex of Chex was stingy and snappy. He would hit the ground and just go forever. It was like he was electric. I showed him in an indoor arena one time in southern California at a place called Coto de Caza. The roof of that indoor pen was about 40 or 50 feet. I can still remember, still see it in my mind’s eye, where I ran him down there in the Hackamore class.

He hit the ground so hard I could hear the pebbles ding, ding, ding off the roof. He would turn around so fast too. We didn’t hesitate like we do now. He would turn around while the dirt was still in the air from the stop. I would come out of the class with dirt all over my clothes. He was really sensitive, and really explosive–a real cow horse. I would give anything to have another Chex of Chex. I think I could have done better with him had I had any idea of how great he was.

Chex of Chex was unbeaten all that year. He just ran away with every class. He took over the Hackamore class. It was like, don’t enter unless you want to win second place behind Chex of Chex. One day, somewhere, I can’t remember where, I won second. I came out the back gate and there was Linda Mussallum, his owner, with tears in her eyes. I had won first every other time, but this time, after winning second, she said “What happened?” I said “Gosh, I don’t know, just didn’t win first.” She said, “Fix It.”

I’ll never forget that. She was a wonderful customer, and we are both still wonderful friends. I really love that story. I’ll never forget that, “fix it” for winning second.

The next horse, second over from the left, was shown by Tommy Sondgroth, my great friend who lives in Paso Robles. He was one of my inspirations. Back then, the Cow Palace was the deal. There were two shows in California: the Salinas Rodeo and the Cow Palace. If you won both shows you were the man, the king of the road for the year. That was as much prestige you could get in those days. I saw Tommy show at the Cow Palace (he started before me), and watched him win three classes in a row and three belt buckles. Tommy was great!

The other horse, I can’t recall it’s name, was shown by Fred Smith (farthest to the left), who was a really good trainer. I had a lot of respect for Fred, a wonderful person.

And there you have it! I thought I would give you a little history behind the photo and about Royal Cutter, Bob Chex, and Chex of Chex.

Ok, take it and run folks! Bye for now!

Brazil Clinic: Piranha stew, wonderful people, and some of the best horses in the world!

I returned home from my clinic in Brazil on January 29. I had a wonderful time with wonderful people and great horses. My host and hostess were Mimi and his daughter Luciana, at Rancho Luciana in Santa Mercedes, Brazil, a wonderful remote area. I couldn’t tell you exactly where. It’s a long ways from anywhere, and it’s near the Paraná river where I actually ate part of a piranha in the piranha stew. It’s a little fish that eats people. The river is full of them, crocodiles too.

Les with friends in BrazilThe people that helped me the most were Mimi and Luciana. I had a wonderful personal assistant. You couldn’t get anyone better than Joe. Joe spoke English and made sure everything was right for me. Joe’s assistant was Monica. She helped me get from the hotel (it was very nice, much like a resort in the country) out to the ranch and back.

My hosts made me feel like Elvis. They had me posing for pictures and signing autographs all day long everyday. One of my better friends was Chico. He is my interpreter and has been for the past 15 years that I’ve been doing clinics in Brazil. He’s also a champion calf roper. He’s very dedicated. Alex is Luciana’s boyfriend, who has a big store in Brasil. He’s a new friend this year and a very nice person. And every time I go to Brazil, I get to hang out with Milton, who is also a champion calf roper. He’s the brother of Mimi. All these people made my trip more than pleasant. I can’t start to explain the amount of hospitality and friendship involved with them.
Brazil clinic group shotWe started around 10 am each morning and worked until about 1 pm, and then it’s a requirement for you to sleep until about 3 pm! A good part of the participants had hammocks that they hung between two trees or their pick-ups and trailers. Everyone would take a nap. We would go back at about 3pm and work until about 6 pm or a little later sometimes. It was very nice.
BBQ They cooked a full-grown heifer for dinner. It would have weighed about 1,000 lbs. They cooked it with the carcass intact on a rotisserie one day. It was over a huge fire pit. They injected the beef with sauces all day. It was dripping with the different sauces. The next day they did a full-grown sheep and a full-grown pig. The food was like I’ve never had before. It was as good as it could possibly get. I had all the ice cream I wanted every day. The weather was hot, humid, and the hospitality was on a level I’ve never experienced before. The Brazilian culture in the urban areas on the ranch areas is very laid back—the people seem very happy, laughing, smiling and dancing. Also, very good students!

Mimi owns a stallion named Gizmo Whiz. He’s had him for a number of years, and the horse is an incredible producer of cow horses and reining horses. They even had their national champion calf roping horse there. Their economy is great. They are selling horses for a lot of money and buying them as well.

The bit and spurs that I took, were very popular and easy to sell. Of the riders and horses in the clinic (around 20), there were about 10 of them that would be very competitive here in the U.S. tomorrow. I told them they needed to stay in Brazil; we don’t need them in the U.S. because they were too good!

The horses by Gizmo Whiz, and some of the others too, but the Gizmo Whiz horses especially, sure make you want one. They are beautiful, they can run and really stop, and are good minded horses- everything you want. They had really nice horses.

I did see one Portuguese horse that was just as good as the quarter horses. A lot of people came to the clinic, more than 150 in attendance! Some came from as far as Bolivia and the Amazon Forest, also from Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay. They’re very eager to learn. We had their national champion riata roper. He was an incredible roper. We also had their national champion calf roper, national champion barrel racer, and a lot of different national champions as well. All very interested in learning and they were really good. The facility was like really nice indoor area. It would compare with any arena around the world. The dirt was perfect.

I think it was about the second day, I got on a black horse. He decided that he had enough of me. He was a stallion that turned into a bucking alligator. He bucked and spun about 6 to 8 times. He didn’t buck like a national finals horse, but he made nervous because he tried to bite my foot off each time he jumped.
Thanks for reading!

New Les Vogt Bits in the Works, Finishing a Bridle Horse, and Heading to Brazil!

I spent the first part of December in Las Vegas went to the National Finals World Series Team Roping. I didn’t do any good! I missed the short go by less than ½ second, which is kind of like the carrot at the end of the stick!

I’m all excited about getting Sparky The Wonder Horse bridled so I can show him a little bit this year. I’m going to take my bridle horse and two roping horses to Arizona on February 8th through the end of the month and hang out with my friend James Dixon, manager of Red Cliffs Lodge, at his place, and Ben Balow. James, Ben, and I are going to rope and ride cow horses and reiners and have a lot of fun! I’ll be giving a clinic on February 22nd and 23rd down there, in Wickenburg, Arizona.

By the way, I’m booking clinics right now, so anyone who’s interested in hosting a horsemanship clinic, your inquiry is welcome! My phone number is on my website, The clinics are starting to build up right now. This next week I intend to sit down and try and fill the book. I’ll have an updated clinic schedule posted very soon.

New bits available next fall

In the middle of January I’m going to Denver to the Western English trade show, which is the largest wholesale market western trade show in the world. I have a lot of business to do there, I’m meeting with Ken Bray from Equibrand and Classic Equine and get some finals on my new bit line that will be in partnership with them. These bits will be available next fall. There will be 6 roper bits, 6 barrel horse bits, and 6 cow horse ranch and pleasure horse bits.

Heading to Brazil

After Denver, I come home and then I’ll take off for Brazil for about 10 days! I’m going to see my friends there. I haven’t been there to see them in over 7 years, but I have been there several other times prior. It will be an interesting trip, and I’ll keep you filled in as far as the details.

My life seems to be pretty busy right now, and nothing’s wrong, so there must be something I don’t’ know! So don’t tell!  Take care and Happy New Year to all of you!


December 2013 Update

Les leaning on trailer smilingHi folks! This month I had fun getting ready for the World Series Team Roping Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ve been going to a lot of jackpots. By the way, I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you have a Merry Christmas!

I went to a jackpot team roping the day before Thanksgiving, and I won! We roped really well. I got 3 down straight in 19 seconds straight time, which was the best I’ve done.

Les's horse turbo trying to get into the house

Here’s a little photo of Turbo and his personality when he’s off duty. He’s trying to get into the house. I’ve kept him in the backyard for a couple of days while I’ve been hauling him around to the team roping’s. If I leave the door open, he thinks he’s a dog. He wants to come inside in the worse way.

Well that’s pretty much it! Keep your eye on my bit giveaway on Facebook and keep your antenna up for anyone that wants to go to or have a clinic for 2014. I’m starting to book right now!

Well thanks for reading!

Cranky, Tired, Irritable? It’s Pre-Futurity Syndrome!

Drawing of a really stressed out looking cowboyArticle by Les Vogt, originally published in the California Horse Review, October 1988

Illustrations by Anson Jew

In your mind it causes stress, anxiety and an extremely bad attitude! Women and horsemen entered in the Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno are probably the only ones who may understand the full meaning of PFS, or “Pre-Futurity Syndrome.” PFS usually surfaces about July 15th and lasts approximately until the Futurity begins in mid-September.

A sufferer’s first noticeable symptom is a strange, compulsive urge to check the truck and trailer tires. These are the same loyal tires that have gotten you wherever you’ve wanted to go all summer. Why now is there a worn spot here and a chip there? You hastily make a note, “new tires before Reno.”

A cowboy checking his tires looking anxiousNow that you’ve entered phase 1 of why you might not make it to Reno, phase 2 is usually automatic. It develops most frequently in early August. The truck or trailer breaks down, or doesn’t seem to pull quite perfectly, or at the very least shows up with a new dent or scratch.

“I can’t show up at Reno with this tacky outfit,” you fret.

Now comes phase 3. As you inspect your horses in late August, you encounter all kinds of blemishes that you’ve never seen before, such as a little spot of missing hair (in your mind you’re sure you’re about to have a major outbreak of the dreaded girth itch).

Or one of them will have a bump on the leg that you swear wasn’t there yesterday, and none of the tendons seem to match up anymore. Yet another looks as if it’s losing weight, so you give it a vitamin shot. The next morning there’s a slight swelling where the shot was administered, and you just know that it’s going to abscess. Naturally, your horse finds himself wrapped on four legs, stuffed with antibiotics and grossly overfed.

About this time (usually two weeks before Reno) the help quits, and PFS really sets in. If you’re lucky, you’ll have one hired helper left and a tolerant spouse who understands and knows you don’t really mean everything you say. Even at that, she brings your lunch out to you in the barn every day so you don’t come into the house.

Phase 4 generally occurs as you are fine tuning your horses just before the event. In your mind, they don’t seem to walk with as much cadence as they did last week—alone perform the way you thought they did last June. You alter your training techniques drastically in an effort to conserve what’s left of your precious prospects.

Phase 5 sets in when one of your horses—usually your best—cripples himself. It’s probably not serious but because you now need that special riding time on him, in your mind it’s a catastrophe. You plunge into deep depression, desperately calling every vet in the area, trying to find one that can work magic on your horse.  Then you call your trainer friends for solace, only to find that they PFS too.

Then, miraculously, just before it’s time to leave for Reno, the symptoms begin to clear. The vet patches your horse together, remarking that you need the help more than the horse does.

Instead of recommending that you buy five new tires to replace the ones you thought were bad, the tire shop sells you one and tells you that the rest are fine.A cowboy with his horse. Both of them have bubble thoughts over their heads

Your spouse tells you the scratch on your rig has been there a year and that she loves you anyway. The truck and trailer make it over the hill to Reno in fine style, and as soon as you unload and saddle up for a short ride, your horses all feel fit and sound.

As you take a look at the condition of the horses around you, you start to feel pretty proud of yours. You see all your good buddies, and because they’re all bragging on their good ones, you start to do the same. Pretty soon you’re even believing what you’re saying.

PFS continues to recede, but not completely. A terrified voice is praying inside your head, “Dear God, please make that horse stop and work a cow the way I told the boys he would!”