This California cowgirl can “hang 10” with the best, from cowboys to cutters.
Kate Neubert grew up in a family of horse trainers, including her father, well-known clinician Bryan Neubert. Today, the 25-year-old horsewoman has moved to Santa Maria, California, where she is making a name for herself by turning out promising performance prospects.
MY DAD WAS PRETTY PROTECTIVE OF ME, more so than with the boys. I remember the first horse I got to start. Somebody had given me this filly because her mother had died. I had her pretty gentle and I kept trying to talk my dad into letting me ride her. He wouldn’t tell me “no,” but he’d give me about a hundred ground exercises to do with her every time I’d ask. After I accomplished each one, I’d ask again. Finally, he gave in. I started a handful of colts that year; I think I was 12 years old.
MY BROTHERS AND I WERE JUST INTO THE RANCH. We weren’t into the stuff that most kids were, like toys and video games. We looked up to the cowboys that worked with my dad. We had a lot of freedom, but we also had a lot of responsibility. My parents worked hard to make learning fun.
I STARTED PLAYING THE FIDDLE WHEN I WAS 8 YEARS OLD. I think it was my mom’s idea. We’d go to town once a week, on Sunday, for church and to get groceries. The deal was if I didn’t practice, then I didn’t get to go. It was hard to make myself practice, especially when the boys were outside running around and playing. I stayed with it quite a while because my parents had taught us not to quit, but it started fading away the more I started riding colts.
SURFING WAS MY BROTHER LUKE’S IDEA. He said, “If we’re going to live on the coast, I think we need to learn how to surf.” I don’t think it would have been as hard if I’d learned it as a kid. If you don’t know what’s a bad place to be or what it looks like before it gets dangerous—riding or surfing—you can get yourself hurt. Both take timing, balance, feel and lots of practice.
IF YOU DO A GOOD JOB, PEOPLE APPRECIATE IT, regardless of your gender. You can earn a lot of respect that way. There might not be as many opportunities handed to you as a woman, but I think if you can do a good job with the ones you get, people will always appreciate that.
WHEN I WAS RIDING COLTS IN THE BEGINNING, I don’t know that I ever said, “I want to be a horse trainer.” It was just something that I was interested in and it kept drawing me. I’ve gone different directions with it. I worked with reining horse trainer Jack Brainard in Texas, started horses in Italy for Lucio Ferrarrini, trained working cow horses with Sandy Collier in California, and prior to this year, started cutting horses for Westfall Ranch in Los Olivos, California. Now, I’m on my own with a partner, training cutters and working cow horses in Santa Maria. We’re trying to make it work, but we’re careful to not bite off more than we can chew.
ON MY FIRST TRIP TO THE NATIONAL REINED COW HORSE SNAFFLE BIT FUTURITY, I ended up winning the limited open championship and intermediate open reserve championship on a colt I started. Dun Pleasin Chics was a tough little horse. He was hard to train because he was so studdy. But once we gelded him, he started coming around.
I LOOK FOR A HORSE WITH TRY, one that tries no matter what you show him. A good horse is going to try and find a way to do it.
MY MISSION TRIP [TO ROMANIA] REALLY OPENED MY EYES to what we have. Seeing different cultural values, you don’t realize what America’s focused on until you get away from it. It makes you want to get your priorities in line.
I LOVE THE TRUTH. I love knowing the truth and searching for the truth. Whether it’s truth about my faith or a principle that works when training horses, the truth just really excites me.
This article was originally published in the October 2007 issue of Western Horseman.