In the equine industry, time means a lot. The faster a horse can turn the barrels, the more he wins. The faster they are around a track, the higher they place. Raising these fast horses, however, is not a quick process.
This is something that Doug and Cindy Hobelman of Fast Horses, L.L.C., know very well. Doug has been in the racing business for more than 40 years, and still enjoys every aspect of raising horses.
“I was born horse crazy. There’s just no other way to explain it. It’s probably fairly accurate to say that I spent about as much time horseback as I did walking the first 20 years of my life,” he said.
Hobelman bought his first show horse in 1970, named Dark Taffy. “In the early 70s Dark Taffy won numerous 4-H western pleasure awards including the District 4-H Western Pleasure Class Trophy one year, qualified for state in barrels the next year, and then placed 8th at the 1974 AQHA Youth World Show in calf roping,” he stated.
Dark Taffy then became a brood mare, and this sparked Hobelman’s interest in the breeding business. “My fascination and passion with bloodlines and the horse led me into the horse breeding business from 1976 to 1983 as proprietor of Hobelman Quarter Horses (HQH),” Hobelman said.
His specialty was in pedigree research. “I believe an important key to success is focusing on what I do best, and leaving the rest of it to others that are better at it than I am. My best is the pedigree research. I might be watching a barrel race event and end up on the computer checking a pedigree. I’ve developed my own theories and look for certain things that I’ve never even heard others talk about. I really dig into my research looking for the good and the bad in the hopes of bringing out the best in a hypo-mating,” he explained.
In 1983, he made the decision to disperse his operation. However, this was not the end for him. Twenty-five years later, in 2008, he made the decision to get back into the business. “I went back and researched the get and grand get of all the stallions I stood in the past to see what worked in the arena and the race track,” he said.
He continued, “What I discovered in my performance records research was what wise breeders knew all along. Your success starts with great mares. Invest in the best mares that you can afford that are proven as performers, or producers with exceptional pedigrees, and then get their produce to owners, and competitors that will invest in giving them a chance to prove themselves,” he said.
When he first started he knew this, and when he restarted his business, he decided that is the way he wanted to rebuild his herd. “In the 70s I had some nice mares but they weren’t great mares. I would have been better off to trade 20 of them for two really great ones. After all my research I found She Loves To Talk, and am very grateful to Sonya Walz for allowing us to purchase her. That is how we started back into the breeding business,” said Hobelman.
She Loves To Talk was in foal to Ima Firefighter, and that next spring, Prophetic Thunder was born. He is now currently their junior quarter horse stallion, and they also stand a Thoroughbred stallion named Kaput, who is out of the Seattle Slew and Deputy Minister line.
They now raise both quarter horses and thoroughbreds. “We are probably focusing on producing barrel racing prospect more than anything. I calf roped as a kid and I believe Prophetic Thunder has the kind of conformation I would look for in a calf horse so I’m hoping to see some of his colts eventually have a shot at that, too,” he said.
He continued, “She Loves To Talk’s first foal to the track picked up $17,000 in her first two starts and her second foal, our junior sire Prophetic thunder, a grandson of Fire Water Flit, is in barrel race training with Thea Chesney at Black Bluff Equestrian Center. I really like the solid quiet foundation she puts on a colt, and she’s just a really nice person.”
When breeding his mares, Hobelman starts with the end in mind. “I believe you are running a successful operation whenever you begin to see the results that you set out to accomplish. For us, we strive to raise a foal on purpose with intent to see it become successful in the discipline it is most likely to thrive in,” he said.
He added, “It’s not all about getting the most money out of the colts we raise nor is it about winning the top awards. It’s great if it works out that way but we believe it is more about seeing one we raise find its niche and excel in it. Success could mean simply being a great kid’s horse, barrel horse, a calf horse, or it might be in racing.”
He also strives to finds the right people to work with. “We also believe working with the right people is critically important in being successful. It’s worked best for me personally, in the past when I was able to unite with two or three good partners. If I could have a good partner that is pleasant to work with on every horse I owned, I would do it,” Hobelman stated.
He does this because he likes working with others. “I feel it is better to share in the success of a great horse than it is to own them myself. As partners we do have to share the risk but we are able to pool our resources to accomplish a better outcome,” he explained.
When deciding what mare to breed to what stallion, he has certain aspects he looks for. “In my pursuit to raise the next great one, I look for conformation, soundness, disposition and bloodlines. In the late 70s I owned half interest in Ciclone, a AAAT son of Easy Jet as well as Scooper Hank AAAT, and Top Fella AA. I also leased a AAA son of Double Bid, called Night Bid. The greatness of a horse is always hidden in their history,” he said.
This whole process starts in the fall with his mares. “We will start several mares under lights to get them ready for early breeding,” he stated.
They will then foal in the late winter the following year, and the goals are worked with. “We halter break the foals as early as we can but we don’t rush them. We like to do everything as natural and quiet as we can. I take a lot slower approach than I used to do years back and I’m still learning. You never get to where you know it all,” Hobelman said.
Their operation is located in Farnum, Neb., just two miles from where Cindy grew up. “Cindy and I have lived on our place three miles west of Farnam less than two years. All we have is horses and wild turkeys,” he said.
He added, “We get to sit on our deck in the spring and summer and watch the mares and foals come up for water.”
They believe there is more to the horse than just raising them to sell. “There’s a little something unique about our purpose in raising horses. We expect them to be ambassadors, that we hope will carry the message of a greater cause than simply success in the rodeo arena or the racetrack,” he said. ❖
“I believe you are running a successful operation whenever you begin to see the results that you set out to accomplish. For us, we strive to raise a foal on purpose with intent to see it become successful in the discipline it is most likely to thrive in.”
~ Doug Hobelman