Riding

Raising Quarter Horses and Kids in Germany

For Reggie Bourgeois, his Quarter Horses and children are the center of his cowboy life in Germany.

America's Horse

“Oh yeah, let me talk to you about horses,” Reggie Bourgeois says from his countryside farm in Bavaria, Germany. It’s hard to tell sometimes when you are talking with this American-born cowboy which one he brags on more: his kids and his horses. Both seem to keep his life in balance.

When he was young, Reggie loved horses but had little opportunity to be around them. He became a soldier, stationed in Germany, where he has lived ever since. It was in that foreign land that he fell in love with American Quarter Horses.

Reggie stayed in Germany after completing his military obligations (he retired as a lieutenant colonel after 10 overseas tours). He still works in that environment as a civilian at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center.

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“We train 30,000 soldiers from 25 nations each year for combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo,” Reggie explains. “I work in a fairly stress-filled environment and always have.”

Kids and horses keep this cowboy focused.

“Two hours with my 22-year-old mare, and I forget the problems in the world,” the ex-soldier says. “I tell everyone two hours with a horse is for me like two weeks vacation. Nothing more, nothing less. There simply is no other sport so filled with responsibility and fulfillment as horsemanship.”

Raising a blended family, Reggie and wife Steffi each brought a son and daughter into their equine-based relationship: sons Rene’, 17, and Felix, 16; and daughters Caroline, 15, and Lisa, 14. Steffi was raised around horses but had always ridden English.

“I introduced her to Quarter (Horses) and saddles you sit in instead of on, and she never looked back,” Reggie says.

“The two girls are heart-and-soul riders and have their own horses (with foals). Rene’ hates horses, or so he said until (2009). Now he even mucks stalls. Actually, I think it’s because he’s finally realizing the young ladies love guys that have horses,” Reggie says.

“I am convinced my kids are better people because of our horses. No other kids we know have more responsibility, initiative and the compassion for others like ours,” Reggie says. “They’ll make great citizens and leaders.”

Reggie finds a way to make it all work together, family and horses; one supports the other. The family plans to return to the United States in either the summer of 2012 or 2013, and the kids all want to go to American universities and find ways to stay in the horse business. They all continue to stay involved with AQHA through breeding and clinics. Caroline acted as the English-German interpreter for AQHA clinics in Kreuth, Germany, in summer 2011.

Reggie knows that American educations for this brood of his will be expensive, so the family is putting their Quarter Horses to work raising foals and tucking away the money.

The family owns five American Quarter Horses on their Pine Barn Ranch. The family shows and trail rides with their extended equine family.

“We did the horsemanship clinic at Rieden-Kreuth, Germany, (in 2009), where we met the great folks from Texas Tech (University) and visited with the AQHA leadership.” (Each summer, AQHA hosts horsemanship camps across Europe, partnering with universities who help teach the clinics.)

Reggie explains that the German (Deutsche) Quarter Horse Association was formed in 1975, and all the Bourgeoises are members of it, as well as AQHA.

“As of 2009, there were 32,693 registered (Quarter Horses) in Germany alone. The sport is really booming with the new European Union countries forming their own organizations.

“The European Championship in all forms takes place 15 minutes from our small farm at Rieden-Kreuth. This is a hall with (more than) 6,000 seats and 400 stalls and several arenas. We’re there sometimes a couple times a month,” Reggie says.

Combine that horse involvement with chores, varsity sports, foalings, helping teenagers prepare for the SATs, halter breaking colts, volunteer work and more. It seems endless, but to Reggie, it is a rewarding, a fulfillment.

All three kids (who live full-time with the couple) are 4.0-plus GPA students who now going to an American school near the military site where Reggie works, with English as a second language.

Reggie brought his family to visit the United States for the first time in the spring of 2009.

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“(We) landed in Dallas, drove out to Lubbock (Texas) through Paducah. … Big mistake. Saw the Sixes (6666 Ranch) and had to stop. Wife speaks to cowboy, to see if she could take a picture. Cowboy takes his hat off and says: ‘Ma’am, you sure can’… Wife: ‘Oh my God, I love it here!’ ”

The family stopped in Amarillo to take photos of the bronze statues in front of AQHA headquarters and went on to visit eight American universities.

“ ‘Dad I want to go to an American university,’ was all I’ve heard since,” Reggie says.

The family purchased a 2.5 acre farm near Pueblo, Colorado, where they plan to have eight or 10 horses.

“Plan A kicks in, and we earn enough money, and they earn enough scholarships that they’ll go to the school of their dreams. Our mares will have done their piece and earned the trip; they’re goin’ to school with the kids.”

For this American-born German cowboy, it’s all about living and loving life with horses.

“What a great dream: great horses and great kids. Who wouldn’t want that?” he asks.

“Who wouldn’t want to be a cowboy? George Strait is our family favorite,” Reggie says. “So, a little music, a Colorado sunset, my wife, my kids, Jack (his brown Labrador Retriever) and my horses. I’m gonna live that dream.”