Regroup and Rebound

Ruth Hartman overcomes tragedy to compete at the 2017 Merial AQHA Region Eight Championships.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Ruth Hartman and Daylee Bowman with Maximate (Journal photo)

A disastrous wild fire has not stopped Ruth Hartman of Pampa, Texas, from doing what she loves – showing American Quarter Horses.

The 2017 Merial AQHA Region Eight Championships exhibitor and 20-year Quarter Horse breeder lost six mares during the wild fires that consumed a portion of the Texas Panhandle earlier this year.

“I had 17 mares turned out in a two-section pasture that burned in March,” Ruth says. “I had to put down four of them on the spot – that were bred mares – and had two more that were burned bad enough I had to put down.

“They’re like members of your family,” she adds. “It makes it a little tougher because you get attached to them.”

Sad but not bitter, Ruth continues to breed, raise, ride and show the animals that have surrounded her since she was born. The lifelong rancher still has 14 broodmares, along with eight riding horses.

Among those horses is Ruth’s ranch riding mount for the Merial Region Eight, Mr Pistol Lena, a 2002 sorrel stallion by Playgun and out of Chicken N Stars by Gallo Del Cielo. “Pistol” was retired to stud, but after Ruth lost her reining mare last spring, she started showing him again.

“He’s just easy, he knows it all and he’s good-minded,” Ruth says of Pistol. “I just pulled him out of retirement and said, ‘Hey, buddy, you’re going back to work, because I don’t have time to start another one right now.’ ”

Pistol is 15 this year, and Ruth says he needs to go back to the pasture. In preparation for his second retirement, she has a young mare by Lena Spark in training with Jennifer Harshbarger of Canyon, Texas.

“I’ll get her next year and start reining on her,” Ruth says. “Until she’s ready to go, old Pistol is the go-to guy.”

This year’s Merial Region Eight is not Ruth’s first regional show. She started competing at the championships when they were held in Kansas several years ago.

“We’ve been going a lot of years,” Ruth says. “It’s just great fun.”

Ruth’s horse show travel companion is her 14-year-old granddaughter, Daylee Bowman. Daylee is showing Maximate, a 2007 bay gelding by Smart Mate and out of Lil Mertle by Lenas Telesis. Daylee and Maximate are true examples of Quarter Horse versatility – they showed in ranch riding Thursday and plan to run in barrel racing and pole bending Friday.

“We just do everything on him,” Ruth says of the little gelding. “We love him. He’ll die on the ranch.”

Ruth is also a board member of the Panhandle Golden Spread Quarter Horse Association, and she and Daylee are regular competitors in Amarillo-area and PGSQHA circuit shows.

Although Ruth’s entire family helps run their ranch and cattle operation, she and Daylee are the only family members currently involved in showing. That will change in a few months, Ruth says.

“I have another granddaughter who is coming up through the ranks, and she likes to ride,” Ruth says with a smile. “She just turned 5 yesterday, so next year, she’ll be old enough to go play with us.”