Until Leah met Don, her life didn't involve horses at all. Don, on the other hand, was raised "Traditional Texas" with a life full of Quarter Horses. Having been around and owned horses all of his life, Don has trained cow horses and mustangs, been a bareback bronc rider, competed in Junior Rodeos in college, and was a member of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. But in May of 1993 Don took a trip to Retama Race Park and was instantly hooked on Thoroughbred racing. Now Don and Leah are in the Thoroughbred horse business that starts at the breeding shed and runs right to the racetrack. With two stallions and 20 brood mares, the Ford's are expecting 16 foals this season. That's a lot of long, foal-watch hours - but Leah thinks each and every one is worth the wait.
Within 6 months of foaling the weaning process begins. The mares and foals are separated, usually in late September, with the weanlings penned adjacent to their mothers so they can communicate, but not nurse. They can play, learn herd behavior, learn to share feed buckets, become accustomed to being touched by humans, accept and learn to lead with a halter, have their feet handled, and learn to accept worming. Within 2-3 days, the mares wander off into the pasture leaving behind gently weaned foals.
When the youngsters are fully weaned they're turned out to pasture where the growing really kicks in. Once they become yearlings, they are introduced to the round pen, lunging, saddles, and bits. They are ground worked with tack aboard and driving lines to learn to respond to the bit. When they reach 20 months of age they are ridden for the first time. All of the beginning work is done with a western saddle for the safety of both the horse and rider and this is when they learn to respond to the reins, gallop in circles and figure eight's to learn their lead changes. The young horses are ridden for 60 days before their training extends to the gallop. Exercise and training will continue for six months allowing the horse to grow accustomed to galloping and balancing the additional weight of a rider.
Don is a licensed trainer, requiring him to pass a written test, barn test that includes handling the horses, and a solid knowledge of all the rules and regulations of the racing industry. Leah spends many hours researching pedigrees and racing records for the long-term goals she and Don have set for the Ford Thoroughbreds. They are going to prove their stock through performance, which requires selection of the best mares, and promoting their exceptional stallions, Racing Rhinocerous and Naturals Grand. Their days are filled preparing well-bred Thoroughbreds for a future on the track, along with all of the day-to-day tasks involved with running such a versatile facility.
"There are better ways to make a living," said Don, "but we like working with horses".
The Fords are always looking for ways to increase the versatility of The Seguin Horse Center. Within the past year they've started hosting quarterly horse auctions, offering "nice horses at good prices." During a recent sale several breeds and disciplines were offered such as reining horses, cow horses, jumpers, dressage, racehorses, and pleasure horses, including breeds such as Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Drafts, Ponies, and a Fox Trotter. Like any event where you get a mixture of breeds, there were paints, sorrels, bays and palominos - almost anything you could want! The Ford's next sale will be held on July 27th and will be a "catalog only" sale, featuring race and performance bred horses currently in training. The Ford's fall sale will be an open sale held on October 26th open to all breeds and disciplines.
The Seguin Horse Center was also the location of the 1st annual Lonestar Equine Rescue Benefit and plans are underway for an even bigger and better event in November for the 2nd annual Lonestar Equine Rescue Benefit. The Ford's have recently started leasing their auction barn and have just completed a brand new arena and hope to have many more horse-related events.
So whether you are looking for a well run auction, a nice facility for your next horse event, interested in learning more about Thoroughbred racing, would like to purchase a Thoroughbred or breed to one of their stallions, the Seguin Horse Center run by Don and Leah Ford may be the very place to look.
Should you wish to contact Don or Leah Ford, you can call
them at 830-303-4323.
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