sign that greets people as they enter Utopia, Texas reads, “A Paradise.
Keep it Nice.” This little town, located about ninety miles west of
San Antonio, in the Texas Hill Country truly is a paradise. Nestled in this
valley of blue hills, aqua rivers and green trees, about a mile north of Utopia,
is Grey Eagle Ranch where Charlie and Camille Habermacher are raising APHA
and AQHA horses.
Charlie Habermacher first saw this area when he was working for a cutting horse trainer who pastured cattle in the valley. Charlie came to the area several times and liked it. He filed the pretty little valley in the back of his mind and went with his life. Charlie and Camille ranched in Comfort for 25 years and after a while, they decided that they missed the horses and wanted to get back into them. They remembered the Sabinal Canyon and the little town of Utopia and decided to build a ranch from scratch. They found one they liked and started working on it.
The ranch had to be built from the ground up. Work started, first on the house, barn and sheds. The barn is 200 ft by 150 ft with stalls, arena, hay storage and a shop in one side. There is a round pen that is big enough to ride colts in.
Sheds with run out pens were added later and also several large sheds for the bigger pastures were built. A greenhouse was built which supplies all the beautiful gardens on the ranch, both with flowers and vegetables. Wells were dug, power lines were strung and the Habermachers were ready to move in.
The Habermachers then started selecting their broodmare band. Camille liked Paint horses, so they decided they would like to start raising colts and showing. They traveled all over Texas to see APHA horses and finally picked out several young horses for the show string. The sires of these show horses are MC Xactly Zippo, Zippos Sensation, Excelebration and Sock Broker, all APHA. Charlie still liked Quarter Horses though, so they went out and found some good foundation bred Quarter Horse mares. These mares are daughters and granddaughters of Doc Tari, Gay Bar King, Colonel Freckles, and Skipa Star all AQHA.
The next step was to hire a trainer, who could train and show the horses. Jereny Johnson was chosen for the job. She had a background of showing and rodeoing in Colorado. Jereny’s training philosophy is that every horse should be an all-around horse and should be able to do as many events as possible. All- round horses are a specialty of the ranch.
Jereny started showing in Halter, Pleasure, Western Riding, Reining, Trail, Hunter Under Saddle and Speed Events. She travels all over Texas on the APHA circuit. The ranch horses have won many points and awards, and one of them, Zippos Dun One is a World Champion in Trail.
Those show horses have now achieved the ranch’s goals and have been retired to the broodmare band. They have been bred to top quality stallions, including, Sock Broker, Zippos Sensation, Mr Robin Boy, Cracker Jack Sonny, Clout Freckles, Obsesed to Impress, Radical Rodder and Tiny Who Too. These stallions excel in events ranging from Halter to Barrel Racing. The ranch is now showing two-year-olds out of these mares.
Starting the colts and training them to show is a big part of the work done on the ranch. There are two goals in training these colts. First of all the colt has to be an animal that most anyone can handle and get along with. Second, the horse must be able to do several events.
All of the colts are started on halter training when they are a week old. The colts are also trained so they will accept hands all over their bodies, including mouths, ears and tail. This makes it easier to do things with them if they have an accident or need to be medicated or wormed. The colts are then taught to load in the trailer, stand for the farrier, take medications and to accept worming. Not too much pressure is put on them at this age, because they need to enjoy learning.
In the yearling year, the colts are started on desensitizing. They are taught not to be afraid to go over cavaletti, tarps, balls, slickers and other obstacles. They are brushed daily, clipper trained, and do some ground work in preparation for their two-year old year. In their two-year old year, they are started under saddle. About three weeks are spent, getting them used to the saddle and blanket. At first they are walked in the round pen, teaching them to follow the rail, stop and back. After that they learn to turn small circles and do some trotting. They are only ridden about thirty minutes a day for the first two weeks or so. Then the colts are started loping. After that they are taken into the arena and ridden about an hour a day, gradually working on taking them outside. Then they are ridden in the big pastures, getting them used to cows, deer, the trail course, windmills, and other spooky objects. After this, they are taken to a couple of open shows to get them used to crowds, loudspeakers, flags and an audience. Then, they will start their show life, going to APHA shows, starting in September. They will only show in two-year old Western Pleasure and Trail classes in the fall of the year. The next spring they will be taken to more APHA shows and will start doing more events.
These colts are usually very easy to handle with all the training they get. Grey Eagle Ranch wants to raise colts that are partners with their owners. If someone buys a colt from the ranch they need to be able to handle the colt, show him and ride him, by themselves if they wish. The ranch wants to sell customers a horse that fits them and that they can trust. The horses the ranch sells should be happy and willing and the person who buys them should be happy with their purchase.
Should you have any questions or wish to contact Grey Eagle Ranch, you can call 830-966-6119, visit www.greyeagleranch.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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