Hollibaugh finds horse training a satisfying profession | TheFencePost.com

Hollibaugh finds horse training a satisfying profession

Gayle Smith Gering, Neb.

Courtesy photo.Mike Hollibaugh and his son Andy at the Belle Classic Team Roping Futurity. Andy is heading and Mike is heeling and Mike won the futurity.

Someone once told Mike Hollibaugh that no one wakes up one morning and decides to be a horse trainer. Although the profession has been very satisfying for the Chadron horseman, it has been a constant learning experience, he said.

“It is very satisfying to train and finish a horse. I can’t think of another feeling quite like it,” Hollibaugh said of the profession he has done nearly all his life. Hollibaugh trains horses for reined cow horse competitions, roping and barrel racing. “I have taken in outside horses to train since I was about 12-years-old, but I stopped this past July,” he explained. “I finally quit so I would have more time to focus on our own horses.”

Hollibaugh said during the last 10 years, he has taken in nearly 100 head of outside horses each year to train.

“We have had a lot of multiple horses and repeat clients,” he said of his growing business. “I usually always had a waiting list.”

Now that things have slowed down slightly, Hollibaugh said he plans to work with his own horses to prepare them for reined cow horse futurities.

“I haven’t competed in the reined cow horse events for two years now,” he said. “In the past, I have had a lot of success in that event.

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“I feel like I have some good prospects now,” he continued. “I have some young horses I’m working with that I hope to compete with in futurities. It takes a lot of dedication to prepare a horse for reined cow horse competition futurities. You need to ride at least five to six days a week for a solid year or longer to be competitive. Everything is so specialized, and there are a lot of extremely dedicated people in each of those events. You have to work at it to be competitive and be at the top.”

Along with his sons, Butch and Andy, and wife, Tammy, Hollibaugh also has plans to build up the family’s cow/calf operation, which they reduced because of severe drought conditions in their area over the last several years.

“We are planning to expand the ranch and start buying back some mother cows,” he said.

Hollibaugh also plans to continue breeding horses.

“We also have a lot of horses of our own that are in various stages of training. We stand two studs. Our senior stallion is a son of Smart Chic OLena and out of a Docs Oak mare. He has won nearly $80,000 in cutting. Our junior stallion is by a Docs Oak son and out of a Smart Chic OLena daughter. He has won nearly $50,000 in reined cow horse, roping, and ranch horse competitions. We accept a few outside mares each year to breed,” Hollibaugh explained.

“We have cut our mare band down some,” he continued. “We have been doing this for the last five years, and culling down to just the elite producers. Since we ride and train all our own horses, I think it gives us a distinct advantage when we are training to be able to work with the best horses,” he said. “I have found that for us, we can do better with quality mares than with a quantity of mares.”

Hollibaugh said their focus will be on keeping mares that produce very athletic colts with lots of natural cow ability.

“Trainability is very important to me,” he explained. “The colts we are keeping will be the ones that are easier to train. When you raise and train your own horses, you find out who the good producers are,” he said.

Hollibaugh said raising and training quality horses has really built up his business and his reputation.

“We have sold a lot of horses through Billings,” he said. “People are really impressed with how they are trained, and want to learn the horsemanship skills and how to make the horse do certain things,” he said.

Hollibaugh said he gets a lot of joy out of sharing what he knows with other horseman.

“Any good horse trainer knows you don’t wake up as a good horse trainer,” he explained. “I have learned a lot from Les Vogt and Zane Davis. It was Zane Davis who helped me with my showmanship. He won the NRCA Snaffle Bit Futurity this year. I competed against him two years ago, and realized I wasn’t as good of a showman as I could be,” Hollibaugh adds. “It was not a surprise to me that he won that. He is a great showman.”

Hollibaugh said for years he struggled with a lot of things when he trained horses, and had a lot of uncertainty as to whether some of his training techniques were correct. Several years ago, he attended a clinic Vogt was teaching in Rapid City. He attended as a spectator.

“I went there two years, and I learned a lot from him,” he said. “A lot of people can train horses, but they can’t teach others. He has the gift of being able to train horses and teach other people. He makes it easy for others to learn. I just feel he is a real master at horse training,” Hollibaugh explained.

Hollibaugh said Vogt is a 15-time champion reiner and reined cow horse champion.

“The things I struggled with and had some uncertainty about were wiped away after those clinics. He took all that uncertainty away and gave me the answers I was begging for all those years,” he said. “Horse training is really very simple. I feel like the more complicated you try and make it, the harder it is.”

Hollibaugh said he urges people who want to learn proper horsemanship to find someone like Vogt to teach them.

“I think you need to find someone to show you how to do it, if you really want to learn,” he said. “Horse training has been around forever, but it is coming in contact with the right person who can teach you properly that is important.”

Since then, Hollibaugh has started giving a few clinics and private lessons to teach people proper horsemanship of their trained horse.

“It is exciting to me to teach someone else how to properly ride the horses I have trained for them. It is like having a car with a lot of buttons, they have to learn how to push the right one to make the horse do what you want him to,” he said. “I have seen how discouraging it is for some people to learn how to ride their horses. You need a good teacher and the discipline to spend a lot of time riding in order to learn how to ride well. The more time you can put into it, the better you will get.”

Hollibaugh said it is a great feeling to watch one of his students master something they’ve struggled with for a long time.

“Take the sliding stop, for example. I’ve had people not even want to try because they think it is too hard, but once they learn how to do it properly, you can see that smile on their face and how much more fun they are having. To me, that is a reward in itself.”

As for Hollibaugh, he also plans to take some lessons in the future to improve in another event – roping.

“One of my biggest goals for the future is I would like to learn how to become a better roper,” he explained. “I just haven’t had the time to devote and the dedication to it in the past,” he added.

The Hollibaughs raise their own Corriente cattle, and use some of them to host roping events at their Flying Heart Ranch indoor arena.

“We started out buying a few to rope ourselves,” he said. “When they were roped out, the heifers weren’t worth anything, so we kept them and started raising calves out of them. When we had enough cattle, we started to hold the roping events to help support the place.”

The couple has held team roping and barrel racing events for the last seven years. The events are jackpots, and they also have a saddle roping at every jackpot.

“We live in a sparsely populated area, so we were surprised to find out that people come here from all over just to rope.”

Although they are contemplating starting a summer roping and barrel racing series, the couple still hosts roping and barrel racing events on alternating Sundays from October through April. The barrel racing is 4D and co-sanctioned with NWBRA and NBHA.

Note: Mike and Tammy Hollibaugh can be reached at (308) 432-5481.

Someone once told Mike Hollibaugh that no one wakes up one morning and decides to be a horse trainer. Although the profession has been very satisfying for the Chadron horseman, it has been a constant learning experience, he said.

“It is very satisfying to train and finish a horse. I can’t think of another feeling quite like it,” Hollibaugh said of the profession he has done nearly all his life. Hollibaugh trains horses for reined cow horse competitions, roping and barrel racing. “I have taken in outside horses to train since I was about 12-years-old, but I stopped this past July,” he explained. “I finally quit so I would have more time to focus on our own horses.”

Hollibaugh said during the last 10 years, he has taken in nearly 100 head of outside horses each year to train.

“We have had a lot of multiple horses and repeat clients,” he said of his growing business. “I usually always had a waiting list.”

Now that things have slowed down slightly, Hollibaugh said he plans to work with his own horses to prepare them for reined cow horse futurities.

“I haven’t competed in the reined cow horse events for two years now,” he said. “In the past, I have had a lot of success in that event.

“I feel like I have some good prospects now,” he continued. “I have some young horses I’m working with that I hope to compete with in futurities. It takes a lot of dedication to prepare a horse for reined cow horse competition futurities. You need to ride at least five to six days a week for a solid year or longer to be competitive. Everything is so specialized, and there are a lot of extremely dedicated people in each of those events. You have to work at it to be competitive and be at the top.”

Along with his sons, Butch and Andy, and wife, Tammy, Hollibaugh also has plans to build up the family’s cow/calf operation, which they reduced because of severe drought conditions in their area over the last several years.

“We are planning to expand the ranch and start buying back some mother cows,” he said.

Hollibaugh also plans to continue breeding horses.

“We also have a lot of horses of our own that are in various stages of training. We stand two studs. Our senior stallion is a son of Smart Chic OLena and out of a Docs Oak mare. He has won nearly $80,000 in cutting. Our junior stallion is by a Docs Oak son and out of a Smart Chic OLena daughter. He has won nearly $50,000 in reined cow horse, roping, and ranch horse competitions. We accept a few outside mares each year to breed,” Hollibaugh explained.

“We have cut our mare band down some,” he continued. “We have been doing this for the last five years, and culling down to just the elite producers. Since we ride and train all our own horses, I think it gives us a distinct advantage when we are training to be able to work with the best horses,” he said. “I have found that for us, we can do better with quality mares than with a quantity of mares.”

Hollibaugh said their focus will be on keeping mares that produce very athletic colts with lots of natural cow ability.

“Trainability is very important to me,” he explained. “The colts we are keeping will be the ones that are easier to train. When you raise and train your own horses, you find out who the good producers are,” he said.

Hollibaugh said raising and training quality horses has really built up his business and his reputation.

“We have sold a lot of horses through Billings,” he said. “People are really impressed with how they are trained, and want to learn the horsemanship skills and how to make the horse do certain things,” he said.

Hollibaugh said he gets a lot of joy out of sharing what he knows with other horseman.

“Any good horse trainer knows you don’t wake up as a good horse trainer,” he explained. “I have learned a lot from Les Vogt and Zane Davis. It was Zane Davis who helped me with my showmanship. He won the NRCA Snaffle Bit Futurity this year. I competed against him two years ago, and realized I wasn’t as good of a showman as I could be,” Hollibaugh adds. “It was not a surprise to me that he won that. He is a great showman.”

Hollibaugh said for years he struggled with a lot of things when he trained horses, and had a lot of uncertainty as to whether some of his training techniques were correct. Several years ago, he attended a clinic Vogt was teaching in Rapid City. He attended as a spectator.

“I went there two years, and I learned a lot from him,” he said. “A lot of people can train horses, but they can’t teach others. He has the gift of being able to train horses and teach other people. He makes it easy for others to learn. I just feel he is a real master at horse training,” Hollibaugh explained.

Hollibaugh said Vogt is a 15-time champion reiner and reined cow horse champion.

“The things I struggled with and had some uncertainty about were wiped away after those clinics. He took all that uncertainty away and gave me the answers I was begging for all those years,” he said. “Horse training is really very simple. I feel like the more complicated you try and make it, the harder it is.”

Hollibaugh said he urges people who want to learn proper horsemanship to find someone like Vogt to teach them.

“I think you need to find someone to show you how to do it, if you really want to learn,” he said. “Horse training has been around forever, but it is coming in contact with the right person who can teach you properly that is important.”

Since then, Hollibaugh has started giving a few clinics and private lessons to teach people proper horsemanship of their trained horse.

“It is exciting to me to teach someone else how to properly ride the horses I have trained for them. It is like having a car with a lot of buttons, they have to learn how to push the right one to make the horse do what you want him to,” he said. “I have seen how discouraging it is for some people to learn how to ride their horses. You need a good teacher and the discipline to spend a lot of time riding in order to learn how to ride well. The more time you can put into it, the better you will get.”

Hollibaugh said it is a great feeling to watch one of his students master something they’ve struggled with for a long time.

“Take the sliding stop, for example. I’ve had people not even want to try because they think it is too hard, but once they learn how to do it properly, you can see that smile on their face and how much more fun they are having. To me, that is a reward in itself.”

As for Hollibaugh, he also plans to take some lessons in the future to improve in another event – roping.

“One of my biggest goals for the future is I would like to learn how to become a better roper,” he explained. “I just haven’t had the time to devote and the dedication to it in the past,” he added.

The Hollibaughs raise their own Corriente cattle, and use some of them to host roping events at their Flying Heart Ranch indoor arena.

“We started out buying a few to rope ourselves,” he said. “When they were roped out, the heifers weren’t worth anything, so we kept them and started raising calves out of them. When we had enough cattle, we started to hold the roping events to help support the place.”

The couple has held team roping and barrel racing events for the last seven years. The events are jackpots, and they also have a saddle roping at every jackpot.

“We live in a sparsely populated area, so we were surprised to find out that people come here from all over just to rope.”

Although they are contemplating starting a summer roping and barrel racing series, the couple still hosts roping and barrel racing events on alternating Sundays from October through April. The barrel racing is 4D and co-sanctioned with NWBRA and NBHA.

Note: Mike and Tammy Hollibaugh can be reached at (308) 432-5481.

Someone once told Mike Hollibaugh that no one wakes up one morning and decides to be a horse trainer. Although the profession has been very satisfying for the Chadron horseman, it has been a constant learning experience, he said.

“It is very satisfying to train and finish a horse. I can’t think of another feeling quite like it,” Hollibaugh said of the profession he has done nearly all his life. Hollibaugh trains horses for reined cow horse competitions, roping and barrel racing. “I have taken in outside horses to train since I was about 12-years-old, but I stopped this past July,” he explained. “I finally quit so I would have more time to focus on our own horses.”

Hollibaugh said during the last 10 years, he has taken in nearly 100 head of outside horses each year to train.

“We have had a lot of multiple horses and repeat clients,” he said of his growing business. “I usually always had a waiting list.”

Now that things have slowed down slightly, Hollibaugh said he plans to work with his own horses to prepare them for reined cow horse futurities.

“I haven’t competed in the reined cow horse events for two years now,” he said. “In the past, I have had a lot of success in that event.

“I feel like I have some good prospects now,” he continued. “I have some young horses I’m working with that I hope to compete with in futurities. It takes a lot of dedication to prepare a horse for reined cow horse competition futurities. You need to ride at least five to six days a week for a solid year or longer to be competitive. Everything is so specialized, and there are a lot of extremely dedicated people in each of those events. You have to work at it to be competitive and be at the top.”

Along with his sons, Butch and Andy, and wife, Tammy, Hollibaugh also has plans to build up the family’s cow/calf operation, which they reduced because of severe drought conditions in their area over the last several years.

“We are planning to expand the ranch and start buying back some mother cows,” he said.

Hollibaugh also plans to continue breeding horses.

“We also have a lot of horses of our own that are in various stages of training. We stand two studs. Our senior stallion is a son of Smart Chic OLena and out of a Docs Oak mare. He has won nearly $80,000 in cutting. Our junior stallion is by a Docs Oak son and out of a Smart Chic OLena daughter. He has won nearly $50,000 in reined cow horse, roping, and ranch horse competitions. We accept a few outside mares each year to breed,” Hollibaugh explained.

“We have cut our mare band down some,” he continued. “We have been doing this for the last five years, and culling down to just the elite producers. Since we ride and train all our own horses, I think it gives us a distinct advantage when we are training to be able to work with the best horses,” he said. “I have found that for us, we can do better with quality mares than with a quantity of mares.”

Hollibaugh said their focus will be on keeping mares that produce very athletic colts with lots of natural cow ability.

“Trainability is very important to me,” he explained. “The colts we are keeping will be the ones that are easier to train. When you raise and train your own horses, you find out who the good producers are,” he said.

Hollibaugh said raising and training quality horses has really built up his business and his reputation.

“We have sold a lot of horses through Billings,” he said. “People are really impressed with how they are trained, and want to learn the horsemanship skills and how to make the horse do certain things,” he said.

Hollibaugh said he gets a lot of joy out of sharing what he knows with other horseman.

“Any good horse trainer knows you don’t wake up as a good horse trainer,” he explained. “I have learned a lot from Les Vogt and Zane Davis. It was Zane Davis who helped me with my showmanship. He won the NRCA Snaffle Bit Futurity this year. I competed against him two years ago, and realized I wasn’t as good of a showman as I could be,” Hollibaugh adds. “It was not a surprise to me that he won that. He is a great showman.”

Hollibaugh said for years he struggled with a lot of things when he trained horses, and had a lot of uncertainty as to whether some of his training techniques were correct. Several years ago, he attended a clinic Vogt was teaching in Rapid City. He attended as a spectator.

“I went there two years, and I learned a lot from him,” he said. “A lot of people can train horses, but they can’t teach others. He has the gift of being able to train horses and teach other people. He makes it easy for others to learn. I just feel he is a real master at horse training,” Hollibaugh explained.

Hollibaugh said Vogt is a 15-time champion reiner and reined cow horse champion.

“The things I struggled with and had some uncertainty about were wiped away after those clinics. He took all that uncertainty away and gave me the answers I was begging for all those years,” he said. “Horse training is really very simple. I feel like the more complicated you try and make it, the harder it is.”

Hollibaugh said he urges people who want to learn proper horsemanship to find someone like Vogt to teach them.

“I think you need to find someone to show you how to do it, if you really want to learn,” he said. “Horse training has been around forever, but it is coming in contact with the right person who can teach you properly that is important.”

Since then, Hollibaugh has started giving a few clinics and private lessons to teach people proper horsemanship of their trained horse.

“It is exciting to me to teach someone else how to properly ride the horses I have trained for them. It is like having a car with a lot of buttons, they have to learn how to push the right one to make the horse do what you want him to,” he said. “I have seen how discouraging it is for some people to learn how to ride their horses. You need a good teacher and the discipline to spend a lot of time riding in order to learn how to ride well. The more time you can put into it, the better you will get.”

Hollibaugh said it is a great feeling to watch one of his students master something they’ve struggled with for a long time.

“Take the sliding stop, for example. I’ve had people not even want to try because they think it is too hard, but once they learn how to do it properly, you can see that smile on their face and how much more fun they are having. To me, that is a reward in itself.”

As for Hollibaugh, he also plans to take some lessons in the future to improve in another event – roping.

“One of my biggest goals for the future is I would like to learn how to become a better roper,” he explained. “I just haven’t had the time to devote and the dedication to it in the past,” he added.

The Hollibaughs raise their own Corriente cattle, and use some of them to host roping events at their Flying Heart Ranch indoor arena.

“We started out buying a few to rope ourselves,” he said. “When they were roped out, the heifers weren’t worth anything, so we kept them and started raising calves out of them. When we had enough cattle, we started to hold the roping events to help support the place.”

The couple has held team roping and barrel racing events for the last seven years. The events are jackpots, and they also have a saddle roping at every jackpot.

“We live in a sparsely populated area, so we were surprised to find out that people come here from all over just to rope.”

Although they are contemplating starting a summer roping and barrel racing series, the couple still hosts roping and barrel racing events on alternating Sundays from October through April. The barrel racing is 4D and co-sanctioned with NWBRA and NBHA.

Note: Mike and Tammy Hollibaugh can be reached at (308) 432-5481.