July 5, 2010: Blane Schvaneveldt, legendary horse trainer, died at 76. May Blane Schvaneveldt be training the great ones in Heaven. I will miss him. I owe him so much. A truly great horseman but a great, great man. My thoughts are with his family. I love them all. Below is the story of how I came to know Blane and to own horses with his Curb Bit Brand.
Several of my nicest horses have a unique freeze brand on their right shoulder. It is the shape of a curb bit. A lot of people in the barrel racing industry notice this brand and inquire if it is mine. I explain to them that I purchased the horse and the brand belongs to the former owner. Obviously, these people have never raced quarter horses. If so, they would know the origin of the brand. They would know the horse was owned by Blane Schvaneveldt. A member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame since 2001, Blane Schvaneveldt is quarter horse racing’s all-time leading trainer.
A few of Blane’s accomplishments include: Leading Trainer by Wins and Money Earned 1977-84; AQHA trainer of the Year Award 1985-96; 30+ year breeder; over $50 million in earnings and over 4,600 wins. The majority of horse people will have only one great horse in their life. Blane has had many. They include Refrigerator, Dash For Speed, First Down Dash, Cash Rate, Super Sound Charge, Town Policy, Denim N Diamonds and Miss Thermolark, to name a few.
Some of the prestigious, Grade 1 races won by Blane are the Champion of Champions, which he has won nine times. He has won the Ed Burke Memorial Futurity six times, the Los Alamitos Derby and Golden State Futurity five times each. He also has wins in the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship, Kindergarten Futurity and the Go Man Go Handicap. And he’s not finished yet. Recently Blane won the Golden State Million Futurity with Tres Passes. It is his 6th win in its 39 year history and the first time for a million dollar purse. So well known and respected is Blane as a trainer and breeder, that he has several races named after him as well as receiving numerous awards for his achievements and contributions to racing. I never have raced a quarter horse and my knowledge of racing horses is limited. So the question a lot of people ask is “How did you meet Blane Schvaneveldt?”
I’d like to share the story of how I met Blane and how he and his family have influenced my life.
The year is 1997. I had just transferred within my company as a sales representative for the animal health division of Merck & Co., Inc. to a position with the human health division. During the time I worked for Merck, an annual meeting was held every spring. Normally this meeting was in the northwestern part of the U.S. In 1997 the location was San Francisco and in 1998, Los Angeles.
A great friend and former coworker of mine, Shaun Pichler, raises cutting horses. She asked if I was interested in flying into San Francisco the weekend prior to the meeting to look at “cowhorse bred” stallions. How could I turn down that opportunity? I read the Quarter Horse News, Quarter Horse Journal and Racing Journal on a regular basis. Not to mention the more regional and local publications. I was excited for the opportunity to see some of the great cutting and reining horse stallions.
Shaun planned the entire weekend and it was a great time. We saw Docs Hickory, Travalena, Doc Tom Tucker and offspring of Miss N Cash to name a few. I was able to see the horses in person whereas I was only able to read and see pictures of them prior to the trip. To me, this was the best vacation I had taken in my life. I told Shaun I wanted to do the same sort of trip the next year. There was one stipulation. We were going to visit racehorse breeding farms and it was my responsibility to plan for the trip. She readily agreed. The spring of 98, Shaun and I flew to San Diego and rented a car. We headed north. The first stop was Vessels Stallion Farm in Bonsall. How can any place top that? The people working at Vessels showed us First Down Dash, Takin On The Cash, The Signature, In Excess, Freehouse and Apollo for starters. We visited the mare facilities and saw Harem’s Choice with her baby at her side. We saw more than a few blue hen mares and nice babies there. It was a great start to our little trip. We visited a couple other stallion farms during the weekend. While we didn’t meet any owners, the managers and help were very friendly and more than happy to show us the stallions.
The last morning of our trip, we traveled to our next breeding farm. It was a rainy day and some of the roads were closed due to flooding. The next stop was the Blane Schvaneveldt Ranch. Shaun and I walked into the office of the ranch. There were two or three men sitting in the office visiting. I introduced myself to the group and asked if I could see their stallions.
One of the men stuck his hand out and said “Hello, I’m Blane Schvaneveldt. Sure, I can show you some horses.” The three of us started by looking at each stallion; Chicks Beduino, Aze Beduino, Pritzi Dash, Band of Azure and a promising new thoroughbred stallion Blane was planning to cross on his quarter horse mares. The pretty chestnut’s name was Red.
Shaun and I spent the entire day at Blane’s ranch. He took us up and down the shed rows and could tell us how each mare was bred and about how much she had won. He told us how each colt at her side was bred and who the mare was to be bred to for the next year’s foal. His memory was impressive then and it still is today. How Blane treated Shaun and me that day has left a lifelong impression. I was not a rich owner who had the potential of helping him make more money. I barely owned a horse when I met him and I was just getting back into the horse business. None of this mattered to Blane. He treated us the same as an “important” customer. He graciously showed us all his horses and patiently answered all our questions. He made me feel as important as any other person who stepped onto his property.
I called Blane several times after that trip and asked for a lot of advice. Every year I had a meeting in California, I made plans to visit Blane. During these trips I saw so many nice horses. It really made me want to upgrade my own breeding program. Blane also let me tag along in the mornings to watch the horses gallop. I got to watch the vet look at the horses and I tried to learn as much as possible. Through the years I was introduced to Shirley, Blane’s wife and his daughters and their families. They made me feel like I was a part of their family. There is no doubt in my mind that he and his family would help anyone who needed it. I am a very lucky person to have them in my life.
Shortly after my first trip, I called Blane and purchased two horses from him. The first was a two year old filly by Band of Azure he was preparing to send to the track. The other was a 3 year old gelding by Dashing Val. Since that trip, I have purchased quite a few horses from Blane. I have purchased young colts to ones who came off the track to broodmares and even a stallion. A few of my good friends have purchased horses from him as well. Not only has this man become a great mentor and friend, but he has definitely upgraded the quality of my horses. He not only is a great horseman, but a great businessman as well. I feel pretty fortunate to own horses with the curb bit brand.