It’s A Match

Selling horses can be such a rewarding thing and it can also be a nightmare. The big difference in the reward or the nightmare is whether the horse becomes a match or a mismatch. I recently saw an article about Dave Graf and Giftagrande and in that article, Dave said that he and his horse were “just a good match.” Dave Graf is no stranger to good barrel horses and even though he says that barrel racing is his hobby, he has ridden some good ones and knows what it takes to win.

Dave and Giftagrande are winners. In 2003, they were awarded a certificate from AQHA which says High Point Senior Horse. He has won too many things to mention on the gelding. A few of his recent wins have qualified him for two events in the 2004 World Championship AQHA show which be held in December.  He also took home a pile of dough from the Victory Farms Going Big Time Show last month in Ada, Oklahoma.

Giftagrande is from a famous family of horses raised by Matt and Jeani Reiman. All of the full siblings have been special horses. There are three others that Jeani has taken to the pay window – Cricket Magnolia, Little Runnerlark and Salmon Magnolia.

Giftagrande’s name is “The Big Gift” in Spanish. I had a very discouraging series of events back in 1996 in that I lost two special Runnerelse horses in a row. Jeani and Matt Reiman (owners of Runnerelse) were so kind to give me a baby colt from one of their best crosses. I named him Giftagrande.  He stayed with me for a time. I thought he needed to go back to Jeani for the futurities as the gelding was so small and Jeani weights a lot less than I do. So, Gifta went back to Nebraska and Jeani took him on in his training and rode him through the fall futurities. She brought him to the December barrel futurity in Oklahoma City. George and I were sitting with Gerard Bernauer and Dave Graf in the grandstands and I told them to watch the speed on this great horse. Gerard and Dave watched him make his run and were so impressed with the speed of the horse that Dave decided to look
closer at him.

Dave and Gerard came and looked at him that very night. Jeani and Matt were staying at our ranch in Wayne and they all watched films of Jeani and Gifta and looked at him under the lights of the indoor arena. Dave wound up buying the gelding from Jeani and Matt. It would be great to say – “ And the rest is History”, but that is not quite how it went.

Becoming a team with a horse is not a quick deal and sometimes takes a lot of time. Gifta’s family are known for their quickness and they have some little quirks. It would be better to have Dave tell this part of this story, but it certainly did not look like a match for quite a bit of time.  Jeani and Gifta were a great match and confident in each other, but for a horse to be a match with the next rider, there are so many things that have to jell. Confidence in each other must be established and then, the all important timing must be acquired. Timing is something that is difficult to practice, as it takes time and runs to bring it together. Timing must first come together at home, then under pressure in different types of situations.

Dave Graf kept working with the horse until he got the gelding’s confidence.  The gelding grew up mentally and physically under Dave’s guidance. As the next year progressed, Dave and Gifta not only became partners, but their timing came together, and they became a formidable team to outrun. If you watched them running barrels now, you would never guess the rough waters that they have come through together.

Too many people want to buy a horse and win on it tomorrow. What made Dave and Gifta become a team is that he took the time to get to know a new horse and understand him. He took the time to get smooth before applying the gas pedal full blast. Barrel racing is a team sport between a person and a horse. When you become one together, you will begin to win consistently.

I hope this little true story will help all of you who have purchased new horses. Dave took his time with his new horse, and now we can all sit back and say – “ It’s a great match!” But, as someone on the sidelines watching, I would say that this match was not all made in heaven, but perhaps started in heaven and built one block at a time on earth by a man, a horse, and a whole bunch of people working together to help make a team.

Like I said – selling horses can sure be rewarding. Just remember – not all matches are made quickly. Some have taken as long as a year before they jell together and then start writing history.

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Copyright © 2004 - 2011 Joyce Loomis-Kernek
Last modified: January 05, 2014