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Along with training the horses for shows, Gravatt also makes sure her animals have the best care she is able to give them. “It’s not all about the training and performance,” Gravatt said. “It’s about the horse, too. I want to make sure they get the best care, the best food and nutrition because if you don’t have a sound minded and bodied horse, you have nothing.” Gravatt admits it takes a very special horse to be able to make it to a Texas event. “I want to keep trying to improve the horses, my skill set,” Gravatt said. “I feel you can never quit learning as far as I’m concerned and with the right horse I can do it, show in Texas.” Finding that special horse is about a feeling a trainer gets when working with a horse. Gravatt said a trainer knows when he or she has a good horse, when they show that horse something, the next day and the day after, they can do it and every time the trainer asks, the horse is ready to do it and do more. A trainer knows they have something special. Gravatt said she has been fortunate to have trained a horse like that and once a trainer experiences a special horse, it makes the trainer feel invincible. Many of Gravatt’s clients have multiple horses to train and are trailered from places as far away as California, Texas, Kansas and as close as North Dakota and South Dakota. They are stabled at the barn and she trains with them five days a week. Horses learn through repetition and a trainer must be consistent with what they ask and how they ask. Training for reining events takes a lot of stamina and muscle development so conditioning is an important aspect of training. A poorly conditioned horse is more susceptible to injuries and Gravatt follows a strict program with stepping blocks, teaching the horse block A before she moves on to block B. Training and conditioning a reining horse takes a long time – at least one to two years and some horses even more. Some of Gravatt’s clients ride their horses in shows and some have Gravatt show them especially if they are interested in selling their horse for performance at a higher level. Her clients are generally a fair distance away. Only one client lives close – maybe an hour away. Gravatt’s clients are not necessarily ranchers but horse owners who are interested in taking a chance and seeing their horses succeed. It is an investment for them and the caliber of horses is not that of a pasture horse. These reining horses have been bred, born and raised for this competitive discipline. The owners understand it is a long process and takes a substantial monetary investment to be rewarded with a horse who has a winner’s caliber. Participating in shows takes entrance fees but there are also payoffs so sometimes it is worth the owner’s while. Purses for threeyear olds are usually higher than older horses Gravatt said, and she usually trains younger horses. Horses traditionally begin their reining competition career as a three-year old when they are physically and mentally strong, and if they continue to be of sound mind and body, they can compete until they are seven-years old. An owner and trainer determine if the horse is ready and it would be detrimental to the horse’s future if it was entered prematurely. Some horses take more time. Reaching the NHRA Futurity requires a series of payments in the amount of $2,800 and Gravatt has showed there but always has the desire to return again and again – it might be because the purse and prizes awarded total $2.3 million. There are often 3,000 entries and reining horse sales with over 125,000 spectators from 20 countries around the world. Gravatt has garnered several pewters and plaques as well as monetary purses which seems to be one of the niches which draws horse owners and lovers to the arena. “I want to say I’m not where I want to be – yet,” Gravatt said with a laugh. “But I’m on my way and I will get there.” Now at age 35, Gravatt has become more picky about horses she will work with. “I’m not as agile as when I was younger so if someone brings me a renegade horse or one who likes to buck, I may pass on them,” Gravatt said. Working in the horse industry like with all livestock, has unpredictability. Her husband and son are not horse lovers but do support Gravatt in her endeavor. Things come up, like an injured horse recently who had to be put down eventually, and she said her family is very understanding. “You don’t get rich, it’s hard work and long hours,” Gravatt said. “But I wouldn’t be doing anything else.” n Taking the right medications at the right times is crucial! 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