Tommy was born in Natrona, Wyoming - a one building town, population 5. When he was 9 years old he saved his money from selling show steers to buy an unstarted dun, breeding stock appaloosa gelding he called "Dunny." This was the first horse he ever started and later showed him at the Wyoming State Fair.
Taking his first job as a day work cowboy when he was 10, Tommy spent thousands of hours in the saddle growing up. He decided he wanted to be a professional rodeo cowboy and nodded his head in a rodeo for the first time when he was 13; was the State Champion high school rodeo bareback rider his sophomore and senior year. Tommy was really too big to be a bareback rider so he went where the horses were big and rank (Montana, Wyoming, Canada etc.) and made a living riding bareback horses until 1995.
When he wasn't riding bareback horses, he built fence and hauled hay to help keep him physically fit and money in his pocket to rodeo on; he trained many horses and worked on several ranches as a cowboy in tough terrain and even tougher conditions. One job included packing supplies on horseback to sheep camps in extremely isolated areas with temperatures that would regularly drop to 40 below zero and winds up to 80 miles per hour.
Tommy was on the rodeo team Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyoming as well as at Panhandle State University in Oklahoma. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science and Ag Education. He then decided to pursue a career as a full-time horse trainer in Wyoming and Colorado; the first facility he owned was in Bosler, Wyoming. The picture to the left is of Tommy visiting his old place in April, 2014.
Tommy focused his horse training on building reining horses as well as good using horses and starting colts; because of his upbringing, he believes a good show horse should be a good ranch horse too. When he saw the Cowhorse he knew this was the sport for him. He worked hard training for several years and each time he went to a national event he saw it was the Californians who were winning.
California is the birthplace and heart of the Cowhorse - where Californio Vaqueros spent long hours on Spanish missions polishing their horsemanship skills, reata roping, and building their horses in to true bridle horses utilizing the spade bit. Tommy decided that California was where he needed to be if he wanted to succeed as a Cowhorse trainer on a national level. He moved to Bakersfield in 2001 and started riding with the greats like Don Murphy, Benny Guitron, etc. He worked for Hall of Fame trainer, Doug Williamson, in the morning in addition to riding his own horses in the afternoon. Most days he rode 20+ horses himself. During this time he developed a love for the hackamore - a vital piece in the equation of building a true bridle horse and a true cowhorse.
Tommy feels that the hackamore is the most vital stage of developing a stock horse and spends over a year training the horse in it; all horses - two year old to bridle horse - are schooled occasionally in the hackamore. True suppleness and self carriage are developed at this stage.
Tommy has been at the same facility in Shafter, California since 2004; it includes a 250' x 300' cowhorse arena with great ground for reining or working cattle, also set up with roping chutes, a 150' x 150' cutting pen, 50' round pen, 10 stall show barn, 18 outdoor stalls, a fully-stocked veterinary supply room, wash racks, and hot walker.
Tommy has recently rekindled the interest in team roping he had in his 20's and has been building and selling great head and heel horses. Because of his immense understanding of the incredible pressure we put on them - whether it is a head horse in the box or a Cow Horse down the fence - he has the superb ability to build horses that can withstand the pressure by teaching them where we want them is the best place to be! Tommy says you should always be striving to learn new things every day and you never know enough to stop taking lessons. Tommy still rides with top trainers and top competitors in several disciplines.
The spade bit is a signal bit, meaning it is not intended to use force or leverage to acquire results from the horse. When utilized properly, the horse feels the spade bit's pre signals and reacts appropriately before feeling any pressure from the bit. The finished bridle horse is truly the pinnacle of equestrianism. Soft to the rein and the leg, they are a pleasure to the senses. Their extreme cow sense and unrivaled training can be focused on nearly any task. Tommy prefers to build a horse that not only can compete in reined cowhorse, but that you can drop your hand and cut. Bridle horses are used to brand, doctor, and also team rope - some of the best heel horses out there started as Cow Horses!
Tommy starting a filly in Bosler, Wyoming - 1995; this is not much different than how he starts them today.
Tommy has received many prestigious awards on horses he has trained, including:
- ACTRA Year End Champion
- ACTRA Nationals Finals Top 10
- NRCHA Title and Money Earner
- AQHA World Show Finalist
- Multi-Year AQHA World Show Qualifier - Senior Cow Horse, Junior Cowhorse, Senior Reining, Junior Reining
- NCHA Title and Money Earner
- NRHA Title and Money Earner
- 2014 California Cow Horse Open Bridle Year End Champion
- 2014 Wyoming Reined Cow Horse Open Bridle Champion
- 2014 California Horse Trials Top 3
- 2014 Campdraft CA - 1st Campdraft in the USA - Champion
- 2013 Montana Reined Cow Horse Open Bridle Champion
- 2013 California Horse Trials Reserve Champion
- 2013 California Cow Horse Open Bridle Year End Champion
- 2012 Cow Palace Open Hackamore Champion
- 2010 NCHA Kern County Cutting Horse Association $2K ltd. Champion
- 2010 California Cow Horse Open Junior Horse Year End Champion
- 2010 Cow Palace Open Hackamore Champion
- 2008 Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Finalist
- 2008 Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Fence Work Champion
- 2008 Snaffke Bit Futurity ltd. Open Champion
- 2008 Snaffle Bit Futurity Int. Open Reserve Champion
- 2008 National Stock Horse Association Pre-Futurity Finalist
- 2005 NRCHA Derby ltd Open Hackamore Champion
- 2005 National Stock Horse Association ltd. Open Hackamore Champion
- 2004 Wyoming Reined Cow Horse Open Futurity Reserve Champion
- 2003 Colorado Reined Cowhorse Open Futurity Champion
- 2000 Wyoming Reined Cowhorse Open Hackamore Champion
- 1999 Wyoming Reined Cowhorse High Point Futurity Entry
- 1998 NRHA Colorade Reining Extravaganza ltd. Open Champion
- 1998 Foundation Quarter Horse Association Ranch Versatility Champion
- 1997 National Foundation Quarter Horse Association Reining Champion
Tommy is a loving, dedicated father of two daughters of his own - Josey and Saige - as well as a third, Cierra, who he considers his own.
Josey is strong, beautiful and one of the most genuinely nice, hard-working, dedicated people we know. She graduated top of her class at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo in Wine and Viticulture with a minor in Communications and is an avid equestrian. She enjoys many riding disciplines and has competed successfully in the Cow Horse events. At an early age she developed a love for English riding and now competes at a national level in Three Day Eventing on a German Warmblood mare she trained herself. A triatholon sport - akin to the Cow Horse - in Three Day Eventing horse and rider must complete challenging tests in Dressage, Stadium Jumping and Cross Country Jumping.
Cierra is a beautiful, vivacious young woman who got the gift of music - both intrumentally and vocally - and has had some amazing opportunities to sing, including the National Anthem at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. She was also a cheerleader and graduated highschool.
Saige is a character; she is definitely the free spirit of the family, smart, good-hearted and silly - a little bit ornery too - she will always make you laugh. She has just entered the teenage years and suddenly turned into a gorgeous young lady; she loves music and art. Saige is an extremely talented rider, with the most natural seat of anyone and no fear, but not terribly interested in horses at this time. She is currently doing very well in school. Though she doesn't quite know what she wants to do in this world, she has the potential to great things.