From the cutting horse pen to hosting clinics, this Texas horsewoman loves helping horses and their riders connect on a deeper level.

Barbra Schulte grew up horseback with her family in southern Illinois. Her father, Cletus Hulling, a National Cutting Horse Association Members Hall of Fame inductee, expected excellence of his five children, and Schulte has more than lived up to that expectation. She took a brief hiatus from the horse industry to use her master’s degree in speech pathology and audiology to teach at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and at the University of Arizona, Tucson. However, meeting her husband, Tom Schulte, brought her back to the arena.

Photo by Ross Hecox

As a professional cutting horse trainer Schulte has won more than $984,000, and she achieved many firsts for a woman in the show arena— winning the NCHA Derby in 1988, the 1992 Augusta Futurity and the 1992 NCHA Super Stakes Classic. In 2000, the couple’s 16-year-old son, Zane, succumbed to cancer. In 2001, they established the Zane Schulte Award in his memory. The honor is given annually
to a cutting horse trainer who exemplifies integrity, service and respect to peers.

Today, Schulte teaches riders of all levels and across disciplines to achieve a deeper connection to their horses through her personal performance coaching, a program she pioneered in 1994. Based in Brenham, Texas, she helps riders through videos and clinics conducted in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

Schulte has influenced many people, evidenced by her induction into the NCHA Members and the National Cowgirl halls of fame and receiving the American Horse Publications’ Equine Industry Vision Award. This month she will receive the third annual Western Horseman Woman of the West Award at the Art of the Cowgirl event in Queen Creek, Arizona.

To teach and encourage people at the same time, that is what people are looking for. It doesn’t matter if they have competitive horses or not.

Barbra Schulte

Dad loved to come to Texas and buy horses from the Four Sixes and the King Ranch. He would bring them home [to Illinois] in tractor- trailers and unload them. People would be waiting to have them sorted and to buy.

The biggest impact of growing up the way I did has been the ethic of hard work. It was not a choice in our family if we worked hard or not. It was all for one and one for all; we were the Hullings, and this was the family business. I never knew anything different.

We had 400 horses on our family ranch. There is no doubt it prepared me as a trainer and for what I am doing now. Horses have always been a way of life.

Growing up, there were five kids and we all had a string of horses—five or six during school and a string of 12 in the summer going to shows— and I think that I got a little bit burned out. I wanted to go and see what the rest of life was like. I never really forgot horses or loved them less.

Cutting was close to my heart and [it was] what my dad loved. When I got back to riding and showing, I always knew it would be cutting horses.

I was one of the first people that started watching cattle with a notepad and paper. I remember by writing. I was teased incessantly about writing the cattle down [before cutting them], because no one was doing it back then. One time at Will Rogers [Memorial Coliseum], I was sitting above the herd, and all of a sudden my paper went over the edge. It hit in the middle of the cattle and I was afraid the cattle would go crazy and spread. They didn’t, but this cow ate it like a goat! I had never been so grateful.

I just love to see people be encouraged, bloom and feel joy. I think God gave me a natural inclination to want to teach. That has grown through time in both teaching technically about cutting and when I went on a sports psychology journey.

I was going for the gold in major cutting events [as a horse trainer]. Now, I think of myself as a seeker of wisdom about a horse. It isn’t so much what I can teach a horse but what a horse can teach me about myself, and what I never knew about a horse.

I think all people in the horse world are hungry for information and to feel like they belong. What I see is education being needed, more and more.

I absolutely consider myself a cowgirl. It’s because of the cowgirl spirit. Women who are cowgirls and really love the Western way of life, being with the animals, the work involved and the never give-up attitude—I admire it so much.

his article was originally published in the January 2021 issue of Western Horseman.

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