From Katie's Perspective
“Before coming to Solo Select, I was working in Henrietta, Oklahoma, at a drug and alcohol rehab where they used horses to help women get through trauma, teach boundaries and learn to establish a connection with animals. When they closed in May of 2021, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. So, I called Ty Smith who is basically like my big brother. I just had a moment where I needed to talk to someone who was close to my Dad, who had passed away not even a year before then. My Dad was the one I would always call when I needed advice; he was my biggest supporter and I talked to him every day. Ty is the closest thing to him now and I when I need advice, he’s who I go to. He basically told me if I still wanted to work with horses, to come down here and work with Melanie. I took a week to decide. And everything in that week told me just to do it. And so, I moved down here.
I have literally been around horses my entire life. My dad started out training and showing pleasure horses. About the time I was born, he started getting into the reining, and then got into cutting and cow horses. I personally always liked showing in the reining most. My dad was very hands-on, teaching me to ride.
I definitely consider Melanie and Ty mentors of mine, which is especially cool because they consider my Dad their mentor. Everything my Dad taught them they are teaching me now. And I really love getting to hear the stories and memories they have with my Dad.
When I first moved down here, I didn’t really have a job title. Things have grown so much in the time I’ve been here, and now, I am the barn manager at South, the Lake Kiowa location. I am responsible for the care of all the sale horses. I manage their feed, medicines or treatments, and their vet and farrier appointments. I also coordinate turn out, baths and just all routine horse care.
I have white boards everywhere! That is the biggest help in staying organized, writing everything down. Thankfully, I have a good memory and for this job, that’s important. I write everything down and make lists for the interns, too. It’s crucial that all the medicines are given correctly and timely.
As soon as a horse gets here, we input them into Wise Option, the software program we use to catalogue all our horses. It’s a record of every piece of information about that horse, including stats, owner information, veterinary records, breeding information and just anything we’d need to know about each horse that comes through Solo Select. It’s pretty much how we stay organized between all of us and both locations.
My day starts around 6 or 7am and the first thing we do is grain everything and administer any medications. After that, we turn horses out and then begin grooming and washing horses. Every horse has to get a bath at least once a week. My job is centered around the care of the horses… the horses here deserve to get the best care, especially the good mares, like the ones we do ICSI on. Ten out ten, the horses looking good is everything. If they don’t look good, they aren’t going to sell well. We have a certain way that we do our tail wraps and I feel like I’ve gotten it figured out so the tails grow pretty fast. I think the main thing is keeping Cowboy Magic in the tails when they are wrapped up so they don’t get dry. We do a braid and then we wrap the braid through itself, wrap it with big rubber bands and then put a tail bag over it.
Horses here for the Select Online Sale are typically here about three weeks. Occasionally we’ll have some here longer. Thankfully, I don’t get attached. My Dad sold horses all the time when I was younger, and I learned quickly that they’d all get sold so I never got attached.
Sometimes we get horses in that need to have weight put on…they just need love and feed. That is my favorite part of my job, seeing them transform from day one to sale day. It’s especially rewarding when I’ve spent 60 or 90 days getting a horse ready for a sale and they look perfect come sale time.
My favorite horse this year has been Sorcerer. He was a High Brow Cat out of SFR Magic Doll. We bought him over the summer, Maria Gutierrez fit him, and we sold him at the NCHA Futurity sale in December. He was so sweet and so cool in the round pen. And I’m a sucker for bay colts. Everyone likes the roans, but here lately, it’s the bays that do it for me.
My goal is always to keep working on taking even better care of the horses. Through the chaos of sales and breeding I just want to work harder at ensuring every horse is taken care of and not missed. There is a lot of moving parts here, but I want to make sure that doesn’t disrupt the regular routines. It’s about organization and having enough people to help. Having the interns is a big help for me.
I would say we all work really hard and work really well together. We always say that we spend more time with each other than our families and that’s brought us all very close. When my dad passed away, I was sad thinking I’d never see a lot of the people from the horse industry, the people I grew up around, again. Being here is neat because I get to see those people coming to look at horses and stopping by to visit. Continuing my life in the horse industry is really nice.
I know my dad would be happy that I’m here. And I know that he would be very proud of everything that Ty and Mel have accomplished since he passed away.” – Katie