Retail Therapy – Allison Buys A Horse and Shares Some of Life’s Truths


With all the stress of building our new house and horse facility, family obligations, and the responsibilities of running a real estate brokerage, I was bound to become overwhelmed. I can handle a lot, but there came a realization that there’s a lot of work happening, but not a lot of horsey fun happening. This crossroad is where I found myself last month, and somewhere in the middle of the night, I decided that somehow I was going to get back into the cow horse game.

I have learned that I’m my best self when I have something to look forward to. On a bit of a whim, I messaged a trusted cow horse trainer friend from California, Justin Wright, and let him know that I was considering sending him some prospects in the future. I have a few good money-earning mares left and started breeding some again this year.

Justin was a youth competitor when I started showing National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) events in college and he’s grown into a successful open trainer. I have huge respect for his family, who was responsible for the bloodlines of some of the best horses I’ve owned and shown.

I also let him know that down the road, I might be interested in a stallion prospect that would be a good outcross for my program, and who would have a chance at an open show career. He responded that I would be his first call when he found something special. The following events unfolded quickly.

The NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity has moved to Fort Worth, Texas from my old horseshow stomping grounds in Reno, Nevada. The Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity has taken its place. I purchased many of my best horses from the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Sale in Reno, but now the sale there is far smaller while the new show works on growing its attendance.

I’d stopped watching the shows on live feed many years ago. I wish it didn’t hit me in the gut that I’m no longer able to show, but it does—hard. I didn’t even know that the show had started, but on an unassuming Thursday, Justin called me to tell me that he found a special colt, and that he sold through the sale on Saturday.

It turns out that I had seen the colt on Facebook already, and we talked a bit about his talent, breeding, and the reasons that he made a sensible potential outcross to the Highbrow Cat bloodlines that have been dominating the industry. And, he was pretty.

It could not be worse timing. We have made huge commitments in our house and barn build. With my massive responsibilities to my brokerages in Washington and Alaska and to the Realtor Association, I am struggling to find time to ride at home.

But despite all that, in an instant I was right back there in Reno, and I was excited. I called my dad to tell him about the reckless decision I was considering making, which ended in us deciding to go halves on this colt if the price was right. I called Justin back and told him we were in, and to call us when he was going through the sale.

Ten minutes before we had to leave for my son’s soccer game I was on the phone with Justin and we threw our hat on the field again. We had a budget. We went over the budget. In my defense, I have a strong belief that in houses and horses, the good ones are worth paying for. Five minutes later, we were the proud owners of a red roan yearling colt and I couldn’t be more thrilled. We were back.

I’m not sure that I learned anything new, but it did cause me to reflect on a few truths I would like to share:


Buy the horse. I have done a few things in my life I have regretted, but I have never regretted buying a horse.


Trust your gut. I have always had a good instinct for quality people and good horseflesh. Horsemen have good intuition. Use it.


Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have found over the years that my productivity multiplies when I have something that excites me. Take risks.


Family first. One of the reasons we stepped out of the mainstream horse industry was that it wasn’t the best fit for our family. That doesn’t change the fact that some of our best times were spent at horse shows. Maybe it doesn’t go exactly the way it was planned, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing. Find a way.

You can’t take it with you! If, at the end of my life I spent all my money on horses, that will have been one heck of a life.


November 2019

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