Meet the Pro: Blake Weis
A special horse taught AQHA Professional Horseman Blake Weis that passion for your work is one of life’s greatest gifts.
By Stephanie Lynn, Journal special contributor | February 5, 2015
Selling “Chloe” was something Blake Weis always knew had to happen. Kids leave high school, youth competition and horses behind when they transition into college life. Saying goodbye to horses as they say hello to a brave new world is part of growing up, especially if your mother is a horse trainer.
Blake even felt a tinge of relief. Ready for a break, he left horses and horse shows behind and moved to Billings, Montana, where he enrolled in Rocky Mountain College. A business major, Blake thought he might return home one day and help his father in the insurance business.
Blake anticipated the move and change of scenery with enthusiasm – eager to try something new, he quickly adapted to life on campus. After all, compared to cleaning stalls, hauling hay or riding in the make-up pen at 4 a.m., going to class seemed pretty easy.
Like many horse trainers’ children, Blake grew up showing many different horses. His mother trained and showed professionally, hauling kids and amateurs to AQHA shows across the county. Blake’s horses were bought green and sold just as the new pair began to win, preventing Blake from getting too close to any of them.
That is, until Chloe.
Registered as Chips Private Stars, Blake’s mother, AQHA Professional Horsewoman and judge Kendra Weis, bred and raised Chloe. Jays Star Annie, Chloe’s dam, caught Kendra’s attention while horse shopping for a client. Kendra knew the mare was special the minute she laid eyes on her.
Kendra showed Annie and earned a Register of Merit before breeding her to their stallion, Chips Private Stock. Kendra even gave lessons on the pregnant mare and again after she foaled, a testament to the mare’s good nature.
Although Chloe changed hands a few times early in her life, she never left Twin Acres Ranch. In fact, Blake was the first to actually sit on Chloe. Away with clients at a horse show, Kendra left Blake with a friend. Her friend thought it would be OK for Blake to crawl on top of the yearling and sure enough he did!
Perhaps that is why the bond between Chloe and Blake grew so strong. While Kendra held the reins early in Chloe’s show career, it was Blake who put most of the time on her.
From an early age, Blake understood customers came first at Twin Acres Ranch.
“It was my job to take care of my horses, ride them at home and get them ready to the show. Mom had to prepare the client horses,” Blake says.
He and Chloe grew together, eventually winning the 15-18 trail at the 2006 All American Quarter Horse Congress, as well as being world champions at the National Snaffle Bit Association World Show.
It came as no surprise when AQHA Professional Horseman Reid Thomas inquired about purchasing Chloe for his client Brittany Donald at the Texas Classic.
“I knew it was the perfect match. Britt bonded with the mare like I did,” Blake says.
Chloe, like most of the great ones, was quirky. She would prance all the way down the chute in Oklahoma City at the AQHA World Championship Show or buck on the walk to the Celeste at the Congress. Once in the pen, she settled in and did her job.
|Blake and Chloe compete in the trail finals at the 2007 Ford Youth World|
Unaffected by her antics Brittany understood the mare and bonded just as Blake had. Blake says he could not have picked a better person for this incredible mare. He had no apprehension handing the reins over to Brittany after taking his last ride on Chloe at the 2007 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show. He welcomed the change, packed his bags and traveled west to the Rocky Mountains and the school that awaited him.
No stranger to hard work, Blake hit the books without looking back. If he needed a horse fix, all he had to do was go to the school’s horse department where AQHA Professional Horsemen and judges Scott Neuman and Marilyn Randall put him to work on a horse’s back. But in reality, he did not really miss the horses; he only missed one in particular. – Chloe.
Once again it would be this great mare who would change the course for this young man. Determined to leave horses behind, Blake’s future was about to change.
Just before spring break, Blake received a call from Reid, asking him to help with Chloe and Brittany at an upcoming show in Katy, Texas. It worked out well for Blake, as his college buddies were planning to be just down the road on Padre Island for spring break. Blake rode with Team Chloe and even took in a little beach time with his buddies.
Classes resumed after spring break, but Blake had already decided he was not going to return to Rocky Mountain College in the fall. During his quick trip to south Texas, he had discovered the missing link in his education.
“I had no passion for schoolwork – not like the passion I had for horses,” he says.
With horses, Blake’s hard work paid dividends with ribbons, satisfaction of a job well done and the knowledge that he had a hand in the making of a good horse.
Books, on the other hand, offered no such reward for Blake. He could study all night, spend more time in the lab than any other student and yet not be rewarded with a good grade. Something was missing and Chloe once again became the catalyst for change.
Blake agreed to go to work for Reid, returning to south Texas after his first year at Rocky Mountain College. In 2009, while working for Reid, Blake won the Level 1 (Green) trail on Slowly Intoxicating at the Congress. The following year, he was reserve champion in senior trail at the Congress aboard his old friend Chloe – a fine start for this very young professional.
Perhaps Blake is still too young to understand exactly how much he has accomplished at his young age. To have ridden an American Quarter Horse that you bred, raised and trained to an AQHA champion title and to top 10s at the World Show and year-end high-points is an astounding achievement, regardless of your age.
Today, Blake trains out of the barn where he grew up and learned to ride. With the help of his mother, Blake understands he has experienced more than most his age.
While many young men Blake’s age do not want their mother’s opinion, Blake seeks her point of view with earnest appreciation. Her keen eye and knowledge of horses play an important role in keeping him on the right track and pushing him to excel.
“She’ll call me from her office overlooking the practice pen at home when she see something she likes or dislikes about a horse I’m working with,” Blake says, laughing. Kendra’s ability to quickly assess a horse from the window, the center of the arena or on top of the horse keeps his program progressing. In 2013, Kendra hounded Blake to get his horse’s heads up. Her tenacity and Blake’s desire to learn has been rewarded in the show pen.
|Blake (left) and AQHA Professional Horseman Bruce Vickery await the announcement of the junior trail world champion at the 2014 AQHA World Show, where Blake and Snap Crackle Pop earned the reserve world championship.|
At the 2014 AQHA World Show, Blake was the reserve world champion in junior trail with Snap Krackle Pop, a 2010 gray mare by RL Best Of Sudden and out of Brandys Silver Sheik by Zippos Sheik owned by Twylla Lynn Brown of Perry, Missouri. The pair placed fifth in junior western riding, putting them third in the race for 2014 Farnam AQHA Superhorse title.
Blake sees that the industry is different today than it was for his predecessors.
“Growing up, I rode and showed with local kids,” he recalls. “Missouri had a monthly show in Columbia, as well as a few big shows each year. Now, most of the kids I teach are children of parents who showed, and Missouri has only a few shows per year.”
He finds himself traveling further distances and more often than he remembers from his childhood. Although being a road warrior is different today than it was 30 years ago, some things, like break downs, never change.
“Something seems to happen every year on my way home from the Youth World,” he says with a laugh. “Last year, I broke down twice, once in Oklahoma and again in Kansas. After finally being towed to a truck stop, I unpacked a lawn chair and unloaded the single horse I was hauling. I just sat in the chair, listening to music on my phone while the horse grazed. In total redneck style, I reveled in the pleasure of the simple things – like watching the horse happily munching on grass.
“I love horses, the way they look at you. Every day, they do something new. Even the old ones surprise you and throw you a curve ball,” Blake says. “I even like the challenges in the industry – it makes my program better.”
The constant change the horses provide on a daily basis drive Blake be a better horseman but it is his passion for the horse that truly inspires him. Passion is a lesson Blake first learned from Chloe.
Passion was the missing link at school – something his mother knew he had to discover for himself when she endorsed his move to Montana – and something Blake feels for the business he loves, training horses. Of course, the competition is a definite bonus and he is glad to have it as a measure of his progress.
Today, Blake trains alongside his mother, at Twin Acres Horse Ranch in Moberly, Missouri. He is a member of the AQHA Association of Professional Horsemen and teaches all-around events to youth and amateur.
“I like the versatility and temperament of the Quarter Horse. They are athletic and can do it all. Chipin In Style, Chloe’s brother, was a world champion in senior hunter hack but also shows in pleasure and trail,” Blake says.
With all of the various disciplines and events available through AQHA, Blake finds he is never at a loss for inspiration. Now he finds the grass on his side of the fence greener than on the other side of the fence and appreciates the opportunities in front of him. Whether hanging out with his horses while broken down on the side of the road or preparing the next champion, Blake understands that passion for your work is one of life’s greatest gifts.
Stephanie Lynn is a special contributor to The American Quarter Horse Journal. The AQHA Professional Horsewoman, judge and steward from Fall Creek, Wisconsin, serves on the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission and is the chairperson of the AQHA Show Council. To learn more, visit www.stephanielynn.net or www.stephanielynnsblog.com.