An Amazing 15-Year-Old
By Marilyn E. Short
dedication and talent are prerequisites to success, 15-year-old Nolan Nolan
has a solid foundation to a successful career in the horse industry.
The New Braunfels teen’s career goal is to become a horse trainer, and after watching him with his 4-year-old Mustang, Bravo; Nolan is well on his way.
Nolan has been riding since he was 2 years old at his grandparents ranch and started riding seriously just 3 years ago. Don Offerman of New Braunfels gave the young horseman lots of useful advise to start on his quest to become a horseman. In looking for mentors to assist him, Nolan looks to the best. He saw Kevin Fiztpatrick at a performance and studied with him, along with world-renowned Charro entertainer and superb horseman, Jerry Diaz, and he is currently training with Scott Willet of New Braunfels.
Nolan is quite a performer having put on his first trick rope performance when he was 12 years old for a friend’s birthday party. Since that time he’s performed for school groups, at Folkfest, and ridden in parades.
Just over a year ago Nolan heard about a Bureau of Land Management Horse Adoption. Nolan reamt of owning a Mustang since he was 5 years old and proceeded to talk his father into attending the BLM Adoption in Glen Rose. His father was against his son adopting a young, unbroke Mustang.
“I prayed about it,” said Nolan, “hoping and trusting in God for the final outcome.”
On November 15, 2002 Nolan’s dream came true when he purchased the Seal Brown Mustang for only $170.
Nolan put his whole heart into training Bravo and it shows, after 15 months it’s obvious the brave little horse will do anything for him. Nolan is home schooled from 7 am until 1 pm every day and the rest of the time he spends outside practicing his roping, riding and training horses.
Nolan believes in slow, steady training, and the importance of knowing when to quit. He started Bravo’s training with ground work in the round pen and taught him to lay down. “It’s a great way to build trust with a horse,” said Nolan. “When I started training Bravo to lay down, he would wheel and kick, but I had him laying down the first day.”
Bravo’s training included being ponied, sacked out, bullwhips and shotguns. Two weeks after bring Bravo home, he was shooting a 20-guage shotgun during training sessions. Each training session ended with laying Bravo down, rubbing him with he rope showing Bravo it was a good feeling and nothing to be afraid of.
Nolan started Bravo in a bosal and saddling wasn’t a problem for Bravo because Nolan started him bareback and didn’t introduce a saddle until later in his training. Nolan introduced the bit and bridal without reins over the bosal.
“It was important to me not to use force with Bravo,” said Nolan. “I wanted him to become used to the feel of the bit, and associate what I was asking him to do with the feel of the bit in his mouth. Most important was to have Bravo moving off my leg reading my body language without pulling on his mouth or pushing him into the bit. I’m really into reining, so balance and finesse are very important.”
After 6 months of training Bravo and Nolan performed at the Texas Show in Palo Duro Canyon, an outdoor drama showing the history of Texas. Nolan roped and performed and also rode Bravo up a cliff and ran along the edge of the cliff with the Texas flag for 64 shows.
Nolan recently took on his first job as a trainer. A few months ago he started Dulce, a 4-year-old Mustang, owned by 10-year-old Daniela of Smithson Valley, Texas. Captured as a 2-year-old, Dulce was then green broke by the Hutchinson Prison Unit prior to being adopted in March of 2003. Daniela and Dulce make a striking team, and Daniela plans to ride Dulce with the Comal County Sheriff’s Posse Youth Drill Team and compete in 4-H, Playdays and Open Shows.
Nolan’s goal is to become a reining trainer, but he knows he has a long way to go and the learning never stops. Offerman had to talk Nolan into learning another aspect of riding…learning to ride English. “I’m currently learning to ride English and do some jumping with Scott Willett,” said Nolan. “I probably look a little funny riding English in my chaps and hat.”
Bravo and Nolan will be featured during the October 9th Wild Horse and Burro Horse Show. The show is part of the October 7-10 Adoption at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum, Ardmore, Oklahoma.
“We are just amazed with Nolan, at just 15 years old he is very dedicated and has spent so much time with Bravo,” said Christine Tincher, Public Affairs Specialist, Bureau of Land Management. “He’s an exceptional young man.”
Nolan’s next project is Tejas, a 3-year-old Mustang stud colt, purchased at the February 20-21 Wild Horse and Burro Adoption at the Rose Palace. Tejas was adopted for Nolan’s 10-year-old sister, Kara. After seeing what Nolan has done with Bravo and Dulce, it’s pretty much guaranteed, Kara is going to have a dependable, well-trained partner in Tejas.
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