Untarnished Trainer - Silver Carnevale

By Marilyn Short

What does it take to be a well-respected horse trainer? That’s what I wanted to find out about Silver Carnevale. Over the years I’ve heard many things about horse trainers…both good and bad. I first heard about Silver quite a few years ago, around the time we started The Horse Gazette, and over the years I’ve heard only good things about Silver. Recently I came across one of Silver’s training brochures, stating “Honesty, Integrity, and a Strong Work Ethic” and I wanted to find out about the trainer with the untarnished reputation.

Most of the successful trainers I’ve talked to over the years started riding at a young age and over the years they’ve had a broad range of horse experiences, and Silver is no exception. He started riding when he was six years old. His mother was a barrel racer and his father was a roper, so Silver always had a horse to ride and competed in 4-H events and horse shows. “4-H was, and still is a great start for kids,” said Silver.

He started training colts when he was 15-years-old. “It was rough because I had no round pen,” said Silver. “All of my prep work with the horse was done at the end of a lunge line.”

Silver has held numerous jobs in the horse industry - cleaning stalls, loping horses, welding and he worked for a local training and breeding facility. He went to college for a while, but the lure working horses was too great for Silver…especially when he was offered a job by Jim Watts of New Braunfels. Watts worked in most of the disciplines; showing in halter, pleasure, cutting, reining, roping, and he had a few English horses in his barn as well.

“My experience with Jim was great,” said Silver, “I received a well-rounded education. I’d have to say that Jim knocked the rough edges off my riding and training techniques. He taught me how to refine the colts I started, how to put a handle on a horse, put a horse on cattle and to advance to a higher level of horse training.”

Silver has ridden many memorable horses in his life, but his most memorable horse to date is a 20-year-old son of Mr. San Peppy – which Silver currently owns. Silver acquired Lonesome Rio in the late eighties when the cutting horse market was in a slump. Silver trained Rio for roping, but he was also an outstanding show, jackpot, and rodeo horse. “Laurie used him for many riding lessons and also barrel raced on him,” said Silver. “He’s a favorite of the whole family because of his funny disposition, but mostly for his huge heart.”

Trainers run into far more challenges with horses, it’s what they’re paid to do, conquer the challenges and develop a better horse. Silver considers every horse he rides a challenge, but one that sticks out in his mind was a young reining stallion. “He was a great horse to work with,” said Silver, “but you had to give in to him at times. If I reprimanded or corrected him too much, he would fight me, so I learned to find a happy medium with him to get the best performance I could out of him.”

You can always count on trainers to have some of the most amusing, if not embarrassing stories to tell. Silver’s most embarrassing event happened when he was pitching slack on a very hard-stopping calf horse. “I flew right over his head and landed on my back in front of him,” said Silver. “The crowd got a good laugh at my expense that day.”

Silver doesn’t believe in taking short cuts with the horses he trains, even if it inconveniences his personal life. Around 3 years ago Silver was doing what he loved, breaking and training rope and reining horses for Rockin’ 7 Quarter Horses. He and Laurie wanted to start a family, and that meant they needed insurance. Silver quit his job training for Rockin’ 7 and secured a job having nothing to do with horses, and like no other job he had ever done before, working from 5:00 am until 6:00 pm.

In his personal life he puts his family first, the horses in his charge second, and then himself. Luckily he doesn’t push the horses he trains as hard as he pushes himself! Silver rides 2 horses a month for clients when he gets home every day – he doesn’t miss a day. His average day starts at 4:30 am and he doesn’t stop until 11:00 pm, leaving only 30 minutes for supper from about 6:15 until 6:45.

After Laurie and Silver’s son Buster was born, their goal for Silver to return to training horses full time on their own place. “When you have a child you need medical insurance,” said Laurie. “We decided that I would go to school and I will graduate in May and then we’ll have attained one of our goals…Silver will be return to training horses full time.”
Silver believes one of the keys to training horses successfully is consistency – no matter what discipline you’re training for. When starting a colt, by the end of 30 days Silver wants the colt to walk, trot, lope on the correct lead in both directions on a circle, stop, and back a few steps. “I get the colts to this stage in 30 days by using the same cues everyday,” said Silver. “If the horse understand that sitting down in the saddle means he should stop, then he will never be confused and never refuse this cue if it’s used consistently.”

Although Silver’s education with horses has been broad, he is now focused on the things he loves to do the most - starting colts and training, showing, and selling rope horses. Silver is strives to ensure that his clients feel they are get more than what they pay for while their horse is in training or when someone purchases a rope horse from him. “I want my clients to be completely satisfied and happy with the horse’s training,” said Silver. “I have put points on horses in the show ring, etc., but when client really appreciates the work I’ve done on the horse…that means a lot to me.”

Over the years, no matter what other jobs he held, Silver has worked with his father, Silver Carnevale, Sr. (Big Silver) at 4S Quarter Horses. Big Silver has a keen eye for rope horse prospects and Silver trains those prospects. If you attend a roping in South Texas, you’ll most definitely see some good rope horses with the “4S” brand.

Silver and Laurie’s future goals for their new company, The Rope Horse Company are to move from their present facility (4S Quarter Horses) into a new place they purchased just 8 miles down the road, just outside of McCoy, Texas – located just south of Pleasanton. Silver’s personal goals for the future are to keep improving the quality of his training and to produce the highest quality rope horses on the market for The Rope Horse Company and also with Big Silver and 4S Quarter Horses.

Silver and Laurie live by the motto of The Rope Horse Company, which is printed on the front of their brochure. “Honesty, Integrity, and a Strong Work Ethic.” They are the three essential ingredients for a successful horse training business.

Should you wish to contact Silver, you can call him at 830-281-5427 or email: theropehorsecompany@peoplepc.com.

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