SMITH: Okay, this is Kim Lady Smith and it is April 24th, 2007 and I'm at High Point--

SARGENT: --Equestrian Center--

SMITH: --Equestrian Center interviewing Bennie Sargent for the University of Kentucky Horse Industry in Kentucky oral history project. So get started here. I'll keep, I'll be looking down periodically checking recording levels. Umm, could you please, Mr. Sargent tell me your full name and when and where you were born.

SARGENT: My full name is Benjamin Thomas Sargent and I was born and raised in here in Georgetown, Kentucky.

SMITH: Now was, um, your, your parents, who were they?

SARGENT: William and Juanita Sargent.

SMITH: Now did they, were they involved with horses?

SARGENT: No, not really. We, we grew up farming and, uh, my grandfather worked horses when I was um, a kid and um, uh, I got my first pony when 1:00I was 4 or 5 years old and my parents always made sure I had horses and ponies and we went to a lot of county fairs and 4-H shows. But they never actually showed horses or were involved in the horse industry.

SMITH: What kind of a farm did they have?

SARGENT: Uh we had a tobacco and beef cattle farm.

SMITH: Your grandfather was more interested in horses?

SARGENT: Well it was at a time, in the uh, when most farmers were making the transition from horses to tractors. When I was a little kid we had two little tractors and two teams of horses so he did a lot of the crop work with horses.

SMITH: What was your grandfather's name?

SARGENT: His name was, uh, Benjamin Sargent.

SMITH: So has your family been in this area for a long time?

SARGENT: Uh-hm, yeah, my dad was born and raised here, my mother was born and raised here so yeah, they've been here for quite a while.

SMITH: Were you an only child?

SARGENT: No, I have a brother and a sister. Neither one of them are involved in the horses business.

SMITH: Now you said, um, I was reading this about you too, that you, 2:00some of your early involvement was with, through 4-H.


SMITH: Now, how did that work? Were there competitions for 4-H students or--?

SARGENT: Um, I, the equine program is like any other project in the 4-H. You had to keep a record book on your involvement with your project animal and then there were, county shows, uh, area shows, and then if you qualified through the county and the area then you went to the state show. Uh, but in the mean time there were a lot of 4-H clubs or county fair horse shows to go to.

SMITH: Okay, uh, I've actually heard a few interesting stories about the county fairs now, um, so tell me again when you were born.

SARGENT: Uh, 1953.

SMITH: Okay, so you're still fairly young (Sargent laughs). Um, so that way you would have been doing horse shows probably in the sixties.

SARGENT: Sixties, Uh-hm.

SMITH: Sixties. Did you do them just locally or did you travel around 3:00the state?

SARGENT: Um, mainly central Kentucky. Uh, because it was a fun activity to do in the evening after work or on weekends we didn't travel very far. An hour and a half, two-hour drive was max, when we were growing up.

SMITH: Did your siblings, brother and uh, do this as well?

SARGENT: Uh, my brother showed for quite a while but he lost interest oh, when he was around 14 or so and um, my sister she maybe showed a little when she was really young but I don't really remember her showing very much.

SMITH: Now when you say showed, what did you show, what did you do?

SARGENT: Uh, basically, the 4-H type classes, showmanship, horsemanship, pleasure, that type of classes.

SMITH: Did you, uh, have any particular breed of horse at that point?

SARGENT: Not at that, there weren't a lot of really breeds of horses at that time. We never, bought a registered Quarter Horse until I was probably 17 or 18 years old before we ever got a registered Quarter 4:00Horse. We had a grade Quarter Horse that my father bought us when we, when I was probably 15 or so but it was just ponies and grade horses until then.

SMITH: Um, why did he buy a Quarter Horse?

SARGENT: That's where my interest had gone. I was wanting to be very involved in the Quarter Horse, uh. I would get their magazine, the Quarter Horse Journal every month. I was very involved in that. I enjoyed reading about all the trainers, um, back then there were a lot of training tips in the journals so I'd read all the training tips. Just I don't know. It just kind of got to where I really wanted to be, have Quarter Horses.

SMITH: So, when he bought the Quarter Horse when you were what 15?

SARGENT: Fifteen.

SMITH: Was that your first experience with Quarter Horse?

SARGENT: Uh-hm, yes it was.

SMITH: Did you find them to be what you expected?

SARGENT: Actually, yes and no. Yes, they were a very kind and gentle 5:00animal, or horse, but as I was getting older and showing was becoming more important the work that went into it to be better at it took more and more time. You know the, the level of competition that I was entering into was much more competitive so I went from having ponies that didn't take a lot of preparation to go to the horse show to have fun to trying to have a horse that was, could compete against adults and registered horses. So, yeah, totally enjoyed it but it was a lot more work than what I expected at the time just because I was stepping up to higher competition.

SMITH: Now, you would have still been in high school--

SARGENT: --um-hm. Right--

SMITH: --about this time? So, you went to school during the day and--?

SARGENT: --actually we went to school and then went back to the farm and it was late in the evenings 'fore there was ever time for the horses, 6:00or early in the morning. Um, in the fall, mainly the spring, the fall, back in those days you really didn't have many horse shows in the fall or the winter so you kind of turned them out for the, the winter. It was basically a spring and summer type activity and um, so, you know in the spring and summer time I would sometimes go to the barn before we ever started work or go to school and ride before because, I knew in the evenings we'd, we'd be in the fields or doing something in the evening, so.

SMITH: Um, so you were working on the farm as well as working with horses and going to school. What were some of the chores you had on the farm?

SARGENT: Oh, just everyday you know, we had the crops to care for, cattle to feed, so it was just everyday type activity on the farm. Had a few milk cows so that had to be taken care of too.

SMITH: Did your dad have much help on the farm, or was--?

SARGENT: No, no we had a big operation. We had about 2,000 acres, 35 7:00acres of tobacco, a thousand head of cattle so we, we had quite a bit of help, yeah, we did.

SMITH: But family still had to pitch in?

SARGENT: Oh, right, sure, sure.

SMITH: Umm, how, what did your dad think about your interest in Quarter Horses?

SARGENT: Oh, he was very supportive. Um, he made sure we all, you know, back in those days, one parent would kind of help make sure everybody got to the horse shows. They would take turns 'cause they all had, you know, farming or jobs or, not every horse show did every parent get to go and, uh, he'd always make sure there was a way for all of us to get to go to the horse shows when we were kids. As we got older you know, sometimes there was some conversations about work and horse shows, what had to be done and, but he never, he never had ultimatums and he never 8:00tried to stop me or anything like that, he'd just, would remind me about my responsibilities, so.

SMITH: Well, now who um, helped you train your Quarter Horses? Was this something you just did yourself or did you have someone to work with you?

SARGENT: When, in the beginning I took lessons at Burr, Burr Oak Farm, here in Georgetown, Bonnie Neuville, Bonnie and Fred Neuville and as I got older, it was basically self-taught for a long time. You know you'd read articles, you'd get tips from people in horse shows, um, but there, there were no real trainers that did Quarter Horses in this area when I was growing up.

SMITH: Were there many Quarter Horses in this area?

SARGENT: Not many, no. Not many that showed. But there were Quarter Horses but they were used, trail riding, different activities, but there were Quarter Horses. And once in the late sixties when it started growing, it grew very quickly. A lot of people got Quarter 9:00Horses then.

SMITH: Okay, well, kind of get ahead of my chronology, but why, what happened in the late sixties to?

SARGENT: Uh, the Quarter Horse Association was formed in the early forties, so it took about fifteen years or so, twenty years, before the movement came, this, came east to where it became exciting and people wanted to be a cowboy, they wanted to own a Quarter Horse. So it took a few years for it to get this way and then that's when people got excited about it and started buying Quarter Horses.

SMITH: Now, who would be buying the Quarter Horses? Would these just farmers or people who had an interest in a different breed of the horse and then switched to Quarter Horse?

SARGENT: I think a little bit of both, farmers and people that it, about that time is when more and more factories were opening up and less farmland so I would say a whole lot of it was probably ah, people that 10:00wanted the lifestyle, wanted that cowboy lifestyle so they bought a Quarter Horse.

SMITH: Um, so you started working with Quarter Horses when you were in high school. Now what were your education plans?

SARGENT: Well, I thought I was going to go to college and be a veterinarian was what I thought I was gonna do. And after a couple of years uh, the farm got bigger and bigger so I came back and went to work on the farm full-time and tried not to do horses for a while and then in the mid-seventies bought a few mares at Tattersall sale in Lexington and my idea was to just raise a few babies each year and show a little and sell and have another little business on the side but it kind of grew into my, uh, you know a life, training horses, breeding 11:00horses, so uh, kind of became a whole lifestyle instead of a little extra business on the side.

SMITH: So, you were still working with your dad?


SMITH: On the family farm?


SMITH: Um, and how did you develop your work as a trainer? Was that--

SARGENT: There were, there were people that kept horses at our place we built a small barn and there were people that boarded at our place. And as time went on we all went to the horse shows together and one of the fathers kind of encouraged me to start giving lessons and training and I didn't know that I could or not because of other obligations and I had never actually worked with anyone to learn to train horses but after a while it just kind of grew into a business. More and more people asked for help. More and more people wanted to send horses to be trained so it started out with just a couple of horses in training 12:00and then just kept growing until, where it just took up all my time.

SMITH: The business you have now, is that primarily a training?

SARGENT: Probably uh, probably 75 per cent of its training and showing, yes.

SMITH: What's the other 25 per cent?

SARGENT: Um, breeding. We have five stallions here, we stand, so breeding and then I judge a lot of horse shows also.

SMITH: Okay so, the horses that you breed are horses you own?

SARGENT: I own one of them. The other four belong to clients.

SMITH: Okay. Um, so when did you move from the farm into your own operation?

SARGENT: Probably in the mid-eighties I phased out the farming all together and was just training horses totally. In the mid-eighties.


SMITH: But you were still on, on the family farm?

SARGENT: Oh, yes, right, still on the family farm and um, up until the mid-eighties I still, we still farmed and did the horses both. And then in the mid-eighties it just, there was a big push in the horse industry in the eighties and just more and more to do with the horses that I just kind of phased out farming and, and did the horses.

SMITH: Okay. Now are your parents still living?

SARGENT: Yes, they live here in Georgetown?

SMITH: And they still have the farm?

SARGENT: No, no, they're retired.

SMITH: Is that what this land is?

SARGENT: No, no, this is different. I moved to High Point in '94. This barn was built in '74 and it was an Appaloosa farm when it was built. It was called White Silver Springs App Farm. And then after they went out of business it sat empty for a few years and then it was a Saddlebred operation for a few years, sat empty for a while longer and 14:00then it became a Thoroughbred operation. I think it was called Deep Creek for a few years and then, and when we came here in '94 it had been empty for almost ten years.

SMITH: That was a long time.

SARGENT: Yeah, so, it was a lot of work to get it back in shape to be usable and all.

SMITH: What happened to the family farm?

SARGENT: As my folks decided to cut back and retire we just kind of sold off pieces of it.

SMITH: That happens a lot.

SARGENT: Right, right.

SMITH: So, what size a facility is this? How much land do you have here?

SARGENT: Um, this farm itself is about 1000 acres, but they're subdividing it now and there's probably already three hundred lots sold on the back of the farm and it's a mile from here to the subdivision.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: So you really don't know the subdivision's here and the 15:00subdivision really doesn't know the horse operation. Oh, there's also a cattle operation on this farm too. So, it's still a very active farm. Um, we use a little over 50 acres for--.

SMITH: Do you lease this land?

SARGENT: We lease, we lease the property for the horse operation.

SMITH: Okay. Okay.

SARGENT: When I came here my uncle owned this place and he had in mind that he would build a horse community centering it around the horse business, the Quarter Horse business. But over the years it just never really caught hold. Right now we have maybe two boarders that actually live in that subdivision. It just never really caught on. This was to be the part of a draw for people to want to build here and move here.

SMITH: So, you're uncle had this property. Was that your father's or your--?

SARGENT: No, my mother's brother.

SMITH: Was he, interested then, in, in horses?


SARGENT: Uh, no, not, not really. He just he bought this property and with in mind of, probably subdividing it. This ground is very hilly so it's not real tillable. It's mostly pastureland. And, I think in his mind, I never really talked to him about it but I think in his mind he wanted to build a really nice subdivision here. He saw, he felt like this oper--,the horse operation would help uh, draw people in here to build. Can we just stop just a second?

SMITH: Okay, um so you continued where your family farm was until '94, is that what you said when you came here.

SARGENT: '94, right.

SMITH: Ok. Ok. And um, how many clients did you bring with you at that point. What was your--

SARGENT: Probably 20. We probably had 20 clients at that time.


SMITH: Your operation, is this typical for Quarter Horse in Kentucky?

SARGENT: No, no. Not, not this many horses or this many clients, no.

SMITH: Um, why do you think that this is, that you've been so successful, well, I say successful but you, definitely busy, I can tell. (laughs)

SARGENT: Right, um, I think because I was fortunate when I got started. I had some clients that wanted to, what we call haul for national titles, like go to the major horse shows, try to win national titles. I was fortunate to have clients that wanted to do that, had the same interest I had. So I think it just grew, it, at one time I had more 18:00clients from outside of Kentucky than I had Kentucky clients. And um, I had clients from Florida, Texas, New York, and, I had very few Kentucky clients.

SMITH: What would bring those clients from out of state to your operation?

SARGENT: We have a lot of horse shows in this area, not just in Kentucky, but Southern Ohio, Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois, Tennessee, Northern Alabama, Georgia, lot, lot of horse shows. People out west have to drive 9-12 hours to go to a horse show. We hardly ever drive over 3-4 hours to a horse show.

SMITH: Big difference.

SARGENT: So, right, the cost, so we could do it much cheaper because they didn't have to drive as far, a lot more horse shows, horse shows every weekend if we wanted to go. The major horse shows in the country are 19:00the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio; that's only three hours away, the Florida Gold Coast in Tampa, Florida in January, that's only fifteen hours away, the World Shows in Oklahoma City, that's only fifteen hours away. And then the Youth World Show right now is in Fort Worth and that's only fifteen, so we were kinda, we're pretty centrally located for the major horse show events in the county.

SMITH: So, to bring, to keep their horses here, train with you is a better option.

SARGENT: At that time was a better option for a lot of folks. 'Cause at that time the industry was just, those horse shows were the big events to be to so people looked at trainers in the area to get them to those kind of events. And economics, there's so many horse shows. I mean, you talk about driving four hours to a horse show or fifteen on a weekend to a horse show that's a lot of difference, a lot of 20:00difference, so.

SMITH: Um, from an economic perspective for the industry, how important are the shows?

SARGENT: That's the driving force.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: Uh, just like in Thoroughbred racing you know, nobody's gonna own a Thoroughbred if they don't in the their mind think they're going to race it someday. It's the same thing in the, I, the Quarter Horse industry has grown to a point now to where a lot of people have Quarter Horses for recreational purposes, trail riding, just for fun, to enjoy them because of the lifestyle, but still the show industry's the driving force because the horses that compete on that level become your more dependable, your more reliable blood lines that everybody wants to have because if they're that competitive and they're that good, they're probably going to make a good recreational horse too. So, it kind of covers, if you didn't have the horse shows, I don't think our industry 21:00would be as large as it is.

SMITH: Okay. I've talked to some people in the Saddlebred industry and Mountain Horse industry where the shows are just so important to get people to know the breed and to help them sell horses. Is that--

SARGENT: I totally agree. I agree.

SMITH: Okay. Now it sounds like from the very beginning you were very interested in participating in a national level. Is that--

SARGENT: Uh-hm. That's true. Yep.

SMITH: Was that unusual? Did other people in Kentucky have--

SARGENT: Well, it, it, when I got involved there were very few local Quarter Horse shows. Maybe thee or four a year were all there were.

SMITH: Local meaning in this area or just in Kentucky?

SARGENT: Like in Kentucky period, yeah, in Kentucky period. So, um, but, the ironic thing to it is the Kentucky state fair at one time was the third largest Quarter Horse show in the world.

SMITH: Really?

SARGENT: And the North American Livestock Show was the fifth. So, the 22:00people came from out west came here to show. You have the Congress, it's the largest breed horse show in the world, in Columbus, and then we have the state fair and the North American, so all three of these are within the five largest Quarter Horse shows in the world out of over 3,000 horse shows. So, the people came so if you showed in these horse shows you were kind of on the national level right off so the people you were showing against, even though you didn't have to travel very far you were showing against the people from Texas, and Oklahoma, and Florida. They all were coming here to show in these horse shows so it kind of pushed you on to the national level whether you actually had it in mind or not.

SMITH: Ah, you clearly, as I walked through your entryway here have had just an awful lot of champions, both your own.

SARGENT: Some my own, yes, Uh-hm.


SMITH: Okay, do you have any memorable experiences in the show ring?

SARGENT: There's been a lot, been so many.

SMITH: I figured.

SARGENT: Um, probably the first time I made the finals at the Kentucky State Fair in the Quarter Horse show in the reining, I think, I know I did, I won it that time and that was the first time I ever made it to finals and I won it. That was pretty important to me.

SMITH: When was that?

SARGENT: Uh, back in the seventies, late seventies. Umm, I don't know there's been so many and so many people, I mean there's been so many umm, uh, youth and amateurs that on that given day it was special to them and us here you know too. So, um, this past year at the World Show, my wife's horse, she won the World's in the amateur hack and 24:00then the same horse was third in the amateur driving, and Reserve World Champion in the senior working hunter. So, that was pretty special being that we owned the horse ourselves and all so that was a very special time. But there's, there's been so many, I mean if I went down and pulled all the pictures off the walls and looked at every horse I could probably think of a very special story for each one of them. Yes, yeah.

SMITH: Story for each one. Well, maybe on a day when you have more time we could do that.

SARGENT: Yeah. We could do something like that.

SMITH: Because I think that's true. I interviewed David Mountjoy, a Saddlebred guy, and he, we spent an hour just looking through his photograph books.


SMITH: It helps bring back some of the stories. So, your wife, tell me about her involvement with horses. Tell me what her name is.

SARGENT: Her name is Cheryllee, she was a client. She came here to get help from us in '98 I think is when she first came here, uh maybe '97 25:00I'm sorry. It was probably '97. And we had horses for her and then it just gradually became more, and she stays involved. She owns, she did own, Cheryllee's English Tack, and we just sold that last April. Uh, we have a little girl now that'll be two next month, May the 2nd. So with the baby and trying to show horses, we, and she has a full-time job. She works for Olympus. She sells surgical equipment.

SMITH: Oh my.

SARGENT: So, with all of this we've just thought it was best to sell the tack store. So we sold the tack store. It was, it was a mobile store, a mobile store it just went to all the horse shows. We didn't have an actual location, so it was a mobile store. Um, we sold it last April and now, you know, with the baby and her trying to show and a full-time 26:00job it takes up a lot.

SMITH: I would think so, think so.

SARGENT: Yeah, yeah.

SMITH: I can tell right now just how busy you all are.

SARGENT: It stays very busy, yeah, yeah.

SMITH: Um, getting back to when you got started with this, at what point did you really feel like, "this is going to work, this'll be my career, this is what I'm going to do for my life."

SARGENT: You know, I don't really, I've thought back on that here lately 'cause I've been interviewed a few times for different magazines here lately and I, I don't really think there ever was a moment that I thought, "this is it." I think it grew into it slowly and gradually, like one customer, then two customers, and, because for so long I still, we still farmed. You know, I still had, I had other responsibilities that I never all of a sudden one day hung up my shingle and I'm a horse trainer and that's it. It just kinda grew into it. It never was the, 27:00it never was the focus until all of a sudden one day it was the focus. So I don't know that there ever was an actual time.

SMITH: Did you want it to be, I mean did you want to be able to just focus on horses?

SARGENT: When I first started I never thought I could. First responsibilities and then reading about all these great horse trainers and then finally starting to meet them I never knew if I could be at that same level. I, I, I have a lot of respect for the guys that came before us and it makes it, I wasn't real sure at the beginning, you know, because I didn't ever have an actual teacher, or I never had anyone I worked for. Most horse trainers worked for someone when they were younger and then--

SMITH: Had a mentor.

SARGENT: Yeah, right. And then went into business. I didn't really 28:00have that until later and I'd already started a business when I actually found someone to really help me. And they were only around for a couple of years; it wasn't like they were involved for ten years or something. So, I guess in the back of my mind I always wondered if I actually could do it you know.

SMITH: Who were some of these trainers that you admired?

SARGENT: Clayton Woosley. He was a great man. He uh--(needs a moment) He was one of those first cowboys that-- he'd come to the horse show and beat ya, and uh he would tell you, he'd say son, if you want to learn how to fix that, hang around after the horse show and I'll help you fix it. So he was really um, oh, great.


SMITH: No, that's okay, that's okay. Um, you said there was one person who was really influential for a couple of years, who was that?

SARGENT: It was. That was Art Faulx. When you, it's funny how the horse world works. He um, I met him at a horse show in Virginia and I'd always read about him in the magazines. I mean, I thought when met him, I thought, "Oh, my gosh, I finally met Art Foe." And uh, as things happen he was training cutting horses and reining horses in Corbin, Kentucky and, for a coal miner and he had some heart attacks. He was only 30 years old and had five heart attacks and, so he put his wife in nursing school here at the University in case the day ever come, you know that she could take care of the kids, had two little kids at the time. So we had met at this horse show and he knew I lived close to Lexington so he called me and he me asked if he could board 30:00a couple of horses at my place. Well I, I told him yeah so they moved to Georgetown and she went to school at UK and he kept two horses at my place and umm, he came out one day and he watching me ride some horses and he started critiquing them and kind of made me mad at what he was saying and uh, he told me that day, he said uh, uh, "We won't get along for a while but we then we'll become great friends." And he was right because I made a deal with the, to board his horses and I have, I had gotten to the point that I couldn't stand to see him and I would have all my chores done before he ever got to the farm in the afternoons just so I didn't have to see him. But after a while we got to be just like he said, we'd become great friends, and we did. And he showed me so much and I made a deal with him. I boarded his horses, I cleaned all his stalls and I paid him $200 a week to teach me how to do it. And, we owned the place, but I couldn't afford to go away to work for 31:00somebody to try to learn cause I still had my own little business and we were still farming at that time but I was paying him to teach me how to do it and um, I learned. I would have, I would have never learned the stuff that I learned from him in just two short years. But then his health got a little better, wife got out of nursing school, and he moved to Oklahoma and worked with uh John Mulholland, and now John and his wife own a place here in Lexington and do the Thoroughbreds. But he was there at John's for a while and then he moved to Florida and had a job in Florida and was in, he stayed in Florida until he passed away here a few years ago. But for, after he left um, I talked to him everyday. Every time I ran into a problem I'd call Art, so we stayed 32:00really close for a long time but he, he influenced me quite a bit in my thinking and my philosophy on training horses and he instilled the fact in me that there's really probably very few bad horses out there they just didn't get a good start and there's always a job, we can always find a job, if a horse wants to learn we can find a job. There are a few that are born in this world that just don't want to be good horses but most people give up on them if they can't do the event they want them to do, we still try to find an event. If they're good minded and they're willing to learn then we try to find an event for them to do.

SMITH: I think I'm operating this properly. Um, now I've read that you are described as, you specialized in training all-around horses. What 33:00does that mean?

SARGENT: Well in the Quarter Horse world it's very important that we have, they have all around events. Can you hang on just a second? [side conversation] So the all-around is very important um, and we've grown to be specialized. People either just show reiners or they just show cutters or they just show pleasure horses or they just do the hunt seat. We still try to do the all-around horse. Partly because I feel the Quarter Horse is an all around horse, he can do a lot of different events and do them well, but partially it goes back to how I believe that if we work at it we can find an event for almost all these horses 34:00to do. If, if they come here just to learn to be an under saddle horse and they're just not a pretty enough mover well I don't want to charge my customer to take them to a horse show when I know that they're not quite good enough. But if they can learn to jump and they're better than average mover and they can jump then all of a sudden we have a working hunter horse that is good enough to go to the horse shows. So it's, it's to protect our horses, protect our clients and just find a job for a good horse that just may not quite fit into that job description that they're either bred to do or the owner feels like they should do.

SMITH: How does an owner react if they want them to compete in one type of category and it doesn't work out?

SARGENT: Most, some of them go ahead and just sell their horses and find another one, if they're really involved in that event. Some want to protect their investment. They, they, they like their horses, they love their horses and they would rather protect their investment and 35:00have something that horse can do well and, and qualify for the World Show and go to the World Show. I think it's mostly people who want to be treated honestly and people would rather know upfront if he can't be a pleasure horse and he's gonna be a good trail horse I'm willing to try. I think most customers would rather just be told honestly.

SMITH: Now, you said earlier that you had about 20 customers. Is that how it is now?

SARGENT: No, now there's probably 35 or so now, customers, 35 or 40, something like that.

SMITH: Sounds like a lot.

SARGENT: It is a lot.

SMITH: So, what does, how much work does that involve dealing with that many clients?

SARGENT: Some, a lot of them are here year round, a lot of the clients are, live in Cincinnati, or Louisville, and Lexington, and this is their horse's homes. A lot of them come and go. They come here for 3 or 4 months for, be prepared for a peak show, string, then go home. 36:00Some come and go. The lady we, Donna Roberts, we were just thinking about, she brings hers in, we work on them for a while then she goes off and shows a different type circuit than we do and comes back and get lessons every couple of weeks. So we kind of cater to a lot of different interests.

SMITH: Are you always training all the clients, always in training with them or do they ever just board the horses here?

SARGENT: Well, we do have a few boarders, yes. Not a lot. But a few. In a facility that concentrates on training it's tough to have a lot of boarders. You need space; you need the stalls and you, the activities kind of at a different level so we do keep a few boarders 37:00but not a lot.

SMITH: In terms of training, what are some of the more challenging aspects of training in whatever category. It's going to take me a while to figure out all the different competitions with Quarter Horses.

SARGENT: Um, are you asking like what, which events are a little tougher?

SMITH: Yeah.

SARGENT: to train for? In the, in the stock seat Quarter Horse industry now we have a scoring system for reiners, cutters, trail, and western riders. It is a point system and each maneuver, each pattern is divided up in maneuvers. In each maneuver there's a maneuver score and a penalty score. There are set penalties that happen, that you can incur, so those classes may be a little harder to train for because there is a set standard that's there. So they might be a little, 38:00little harder to train for them because of, the judges in their mind, have in their mind what a plus 1 is or a minus 1 is for a maneuver score. The other events are, you are, the judges opinion of what they think is a nice horse or a nice go, so even though they're putting a score on it there's not that breed or event standard already set like in the cutting, the reining, the Western riding, and the trail. And they all have score sheets and it's all broke down in the score sheets are posted after the classes where exhibitors can see what the judge saw. What the judge is actually doing is just uh, describing what they see as the, as the event unrolls. Even novice people in those events 39:00can sit in the stands and tell when a horse has missed a lead and they know how many penalty points that is or if they freeze up in a spin or if it's in the trail and they hit a pole they are trotting over. So there is a standard so those horses have to be a little harder maybe to train just because there is an actual standard that you're meeting. The other ones, you know it's all the judge's opinion, you know. If you have a really pretty mover for the western pleasure and he does all the gaits correctly the judge may just like the way yours flows at the jog a little more than he likes the second place horse that didn't quite flow at the jog as much. So, I would think that the, the events that have an actual point standard already put to them are the harder events to train for.

SMITH: Stock seat, what is that?

SARGENT: Stock seat is western event horses. Mainly Quarter Horses, Paints, Apps, Arabs have stock seat classes. Morgans have stock seat 40:00classes. The Saddlebreds now have some stock seat classes.

SMITH: I see. And do those compete at Quarter Horse shows?


SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: They're all breed specialty shows.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: Now some of our county fairs and open shows those are all breeds but when you go to a Quarter Horse show, it's just Quarter Horses. You go to a paint show it's just paints.

SMITH: Now, I was reading where you are coaching the UK stock seats.

SARGENT: Stock seat. So I help the people that just want to show western, is, is who I help.

SMITH: So, what do you enjoy about training? What is it that you enjoy?

SARGENT: You know, used to, I would say it's just bringing a young horse on and taking a young horse and making a finished horse out of it that 41:00a lot of people have respect for. But I think all along it really was just a lifestyle. Being able to do things that make you happy and making a living doing it.

SMITH: Has it been hard to make a living this way?

SARGENT: Oh, very hard, very hard. There's a lot of ups and downs. In any industry or business, I know there is, but in this business it's 24/7 seven days a week, holidays, it doesn't matter, these horses still have to be cared for, still have to be fed and watered. Um, and we are in the recreational business so as the economy gets tougher, we feel it first. But the horse have be cared for anyway so people decide they don't want to go to horse shows so your profit for the month as gone 42:00down but your expenses have stayed up because you still have to feed and care for those horses for those clients. People don't buy as many horses or upgrade to better horses so we lose sales, so the economy, our industry is very economy driven.

SMITH: So, since you've been doing this, let's see, since the early eighties probably you've been doing it full-time.

SARGENT: Full-time yeah, since early eighties.

SMITH: So, what have been some of the peaks and valleys during that time period?

SARGENT: Well, you can almost follow the stock market, it'll almost let you know where our good times and bad times have been.

SMITH: I know there was a lot of trouble in the eighties, the tax reform act in 1986. Did that have an impact on--

SARGENT: That, that hurt us a little, but in this area there weren't a lot of big Quarter Horse ranches or farms so it really, in this area it was really the people had the extra um, income to go enjoy their hobby 43:00or their fun, is how we're really driven, most show horses are driven that way, I don't care what breed they are they're really driven by the economics 'cause they are a, uh, they're for entertainment, I mean, we're an entertainment business really when you look at it that way.

SMITH: How would you describe one of your clients, a typical client in the Quarter Horse world here in Kentucky?

SARGENT: Most of them are hardworking people that enjoy horses and find a way to enjoy it.

SMITH: They own, just own a few?

SARGENT: Most of them own just a few, one or two. The person that wants to maybe raise a few they'll own one show horse and 3 or 4 broodmares and try to raise one but the average person that really is involved and 44:00goes to a lot of horse shows they only own 1 or 2 horses.

SMITH: Now, people like you who uh, train or who breed Quarter Horses, what's that like in Kentucky, do we have many?

SARGENT: Actually there's more Quarter Horses in Kentucky than any other breed.

SMITH: I've heard that.

SARGENT: There's over 37,000 registered Quarter Horses in Kentucky.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: Every county in the state has Quarter Horses in them. AQHA is very up-to-date on their technology. They can tell you the address and the county of every member in Kentucky. They can tell you their interests; they can tell you if they're a show person, a breeder, a recreational rider. They can tell you the complete horse history on every AQHA member in the, in the state. So we're lucky that we have 45:00that because it makes, it makes everything more um, user friendly for, not just trainers but for exhibitors also. To keep up with what's going on. So, going back to your question about what's it like, it's tough because you don't have people coming here to buy our product because we're known for Thoroughbreds, not Quarter Horses in Kentucky so even though there's more Quarter Horses in Kentucky than any other breed, we're not known for being a Quarter Horse producing state so it makes it a little tougher.

SMITH: Now I've always heard that there were Quarter Horses in the western part of the state.

SARGENT: Probably so, because there's more farms in the western part 46:00of the state so they're used, a lot of those horses are used on the farms you know for the cattle operations, and things like that, more recreational riding opportunities with the Land between the Lakes and things like that, so I would guess probably so. I, I haven't actually, it wouldn't' be hard to find out for sure, I mean AQHA could tell you that but I've never actually looked it up but they can tell you by county how many registered horses there are in every county so I'm sure they could tell us that if we asked.

SMITH: Who are some of the people involved in the Quarter Horse world in a big way, bigger than maybe just 1 or 2 horses that they show, in this area, in this state? Any one comparable to you?

SARGENT: Not, on this, not to train this many or have this many that I can think of. Norm Luba, they've done very well. Howard and Barbara Rea, they have a nice operation over in Shelbyville. Um, western 47:00Kentucky there's Danny Haines. Uh, Terry Johns, down in southern Kentucky. Well Nathan Smith, he's a young trainer that just moved back. He worked for a trainer in Missouri for a few years and he has his own operation in Fisherville. He does quite well. I almost forgot about Nathan because he's one of the younger ones.

SMITH: Do you have anyone that comes to you to learn, comes to you as a mentor?

SARGENT: Actually we have quite a few interns. We work with about seven different colleges that do their internships through us for their equine studies programs. Right now we have one here right now from 48:00Morrisville up in New York.

SMITH: So it's not just Kentucky?

SARGENT: No, no. One here from Midway College and two from University of Kentucky. We work with Morrisville in New York, Blackhawk in Illinois, that's probably the only two from out- of- state we still work with some and then quite a few of the state schools here in Kentucky we work with.

SMITH: Is that helpful to the farm, or to the operation?

SARGENT: Yeah, it is, you know, um with anything like that you get really, really good ones that want to learn and it's in their blood and their gonna be in the horse industry forever and ever and you get some that just think it's, you know they're just doing it because they think 49:00it sounds like fun, their gonna get to ride horses, where here you start from the ground up and you don't ride when you first get here by any means.

SMITH: One of the things I've noticed even since I've been here this morning is the care of the horses. You get a lot of questions about some pretty basic, maybe basic, in terms of caring for a horse and either an illness or it's got some kind of a problem, can you help identify it. How do you, how did you learn all that, is it just by experience?

SARGENT: Just experience mostly. Over, over the years you see a lot of stuff and it, experience is the best teacher.

SMITH: What are some of the things, the challenges you have in caring for a horse, Quarter Horses.

SARGENT: [telephone rings] High Point.

SMITH: Okay, uh, so we were talking about health care issues, the 50:00challenges in taking care of Quarter Horses.

SARGENT: Probably the biggest challenge now is 100 per cent sound horses because our competition has, has grown to such a high playing field that 20 years ago a horse could be a little, I'm not going to say sore, but just not moving quite 100 per cent right and you never really noticed it, you could still be the best horse in the class, where now we've raised that playing field so high with breeding better horses, better training methods, that if a horse is not 100 per cent sound or 100 per cent healthy all the time it will reflect in his, in the class. So, that's probably the biggest challenge now because some days horses 51:00are just like people. Some days you need an extra aspirin to get going and horses are the same way. They, they're not really lame but their just not themselves so you gotta evaluate it and decide, do I need to start looking deeper or is it just today and I need a little rest or a little Bute or you know, so that's probably the biggest challenge now is just because we have raised that playing field so high.

SMITH: Now a lot of those kind of initial decisions rest with you in terms of caring for the horses?


SMITH: Do you use vets more now than you used to or is that about the same?

SARGENT: In everyday type care probably less, just because experience takes care of a lot of things. In more technical, like if I have a horse that for a week just doesn't quite look, he looks like 99 per 52:00cent instead of 100 per cent and if another horseman walked in and they watched that horse go around, they wouldn't even notice it because they haven't seen it everyday, those kind of problems go to a specialist now. They go to Rood and Riddle or somewhere like that immediately because it's not fair to the customer to have the horse here and they're paying and us not finding out as quick as we can what we need to do for them. So--

SMITH: Do you have one vet that you use at the center or do your clients have a--

SARGENT: --it depends on what we have. Rood and Riddle is probably one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world, and they have great veterinarians there that all have a specialty so depending on what we need, who, which vet we ask for. They're all very good. I mean, I've had to take horses in there for emergencies on weekends and the vet we normally use maybe it's his weekend off and I've never 53:00ever been dissatisfied with anybody. I mean, they've got a great staff there, great staff.

SMITH: That's good. Now how many people do you have here helping you with the horses?

SARGENT: We have 4 full-time people and, besides myself, and then 4 or 5 part-time cause those are a lot of interns that come after classes on certain days. You know we have one from Midway that comes 3 or 4 afternoons a week and then Saturday and then one from UK that comes different afternoons and a Saturday. So the part-time is more interns or just plain old part-time help that come after schools or things like that.

SMITH: So how many horses do you have here?

SARGENT: Right now during breeding season there's, changes daily but I, 54:00probably about 125.

SMITH: That's a lot of horses--

SARGENT: --yes, a lot--

SMITH: --for a small number of people.


SMITH: Okay. Um, can you describe a typical day here? Is there such a thing for you? A typical day in the spring.

SARGENT: Well, it, the phone starts early, usually around 7. We start early here. I have a guy that's been with me 28 years now and he comes in at 4 in the morning and feeds and cleans stalls. So he has the tractor and the manure spreader out of the way before we ever start working in the barn. Rest of the help gets here around 8, do the normal chores, sweeping up, watering, and then after that we start training and we are working or riding horses. Breeding takes a big part right now but once breeding season is over it'll all be just totally train and riding. Then in the afternoons we give a few 55:00lessons. We try to encourage all of our owners to come at least once a week to ride their horses so they can be up-to-date on what's going on and where the progress is, that type of thing. And then we give a few lessons to outsiders. Not a lot, just not enough time to do it all.

SMITH: Now do you give those lessons or does somebody else.

SARGENT: I, I give some of the lessons to the clients with their horses if we're working on a certain discipline or something. We have someone else who gives the little kid outside lessons. I don't, I don't do those. There's just not enough time for me to be involved in that too. Then the other girl that helps us full-time she gives most of the lessons.

SMITH: I think I asked you about some of the challenges in, in training for particularly category of show. Do you have a favorite showing, I'm 56:00not going to say this right, category--


SMITH: Yeah, event, there you go.

SARGENT: Probably my favorite, my passion is the reining or the working cow horse. I love those. We don't have a lot of them in this area. I mean, the reinings are better now but there's not a lot of working cow horses.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: Then probably the trail. I really enjoy the trail and the trail is on, is probably the biggest upswing of people showing trail horses because in the last few years, trail has gotten a scoring system so people can sit outside the ring and they realize by the time the class is over, "Oh, that horse had like three rubs over the poles, it's probably not going to be the winner, but it's still going to be one of the better horses." So, trail has become very uh, very large, very quick.

SMITH: Now do people come to you for a specific category or event?


SARGENT: Uh-hm, right, some do.

SMITH: What would that be?

SARGENT: Trail is one. The hunters, the working hunters, the jumpers, and the pleasure driving.

SMITH: Okay, okay.

SARGENT: Yeah, that's fine. Thank you. Alrighty.

SMITH: I'll try to, I still got lots of questions but I'll try to keep it, not too much longer. Um, one of the things that I do ask a lot of people about is the issue of drug use. Is this an issue within the Quarter Horse, in the show ring as well?

SARGENT: Not as much as it used to be. AQHA has taken a proactive stand on drugging so we pay a drug testing fee at every horse show and AQHA tries to drug test a large number of horse shows a year so, and I have served on the drug testing task force for AQHA. So they, they have 58:00veterinarians hired in every state and they try to drug test, I don't know that exact number but you know, depending on the number of shows you have in a state, a percentage of those shows each year.

SMITH: Okay, so it's less of a problem than it used to be.

SARGENT: It's less of a problem because they've taken a proactive stand at testing so we, we don't see, the USEF, we follow their drug testing procedures.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: They estimate that, they have 5 per cent positive tests on all their tests, all their drug samples that are turned in. Only 5 per cent are positive, 95 per cent are negative. I just happened to read the paperwork the other day. Last year for AQHA, all of our shows in the world, we only had 3 per cent positive so 97 per cent were clean, normal drug tests. Only 3 per cent were positive.

SMITH: That's pretty good.

SARGENT: But that also includes overages of therapeutic drugs. There 59:00are certain drugs that are considered therapeutic drugs, bute, banamine, things like this for pain. Well, you have to quit using those within a certain timeframe of the horse show or the event. Most of those were overages there where people just miscalculated their time. You can't give it 12 hours before you show, some of them gave it ten by mistake, the event came around quicker than they estimated it would. Uh, they lost track. You can only do it for five days before your show; they may have messed up and gave it six days. You know, it really wasn't--

SMITH: Does that disqualify them?

SARGENT: No, they just have to pay a little fine. You know, keep up with your records a little better (Smith laughs) so you know what's going on. But no it doesn't actually this, an overage of therapeutic drugs, no.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: A positive drug test of a mind-altering drug, yes, you get in a lot of trouble over that. You'll pay a fine and be suspended.

SMITH: Oh good. I'm glad--


SARGENT: No, it's very good. I'm all for it. I think the playing field ought to be level for everyone. There's way too much at stake and no one should have that kind of advantage that they're drugging their horses. And some, some horses don't do well on those drugs. Some horses have issues later after the drugs are gone so you want to be careful about that too. So it's not as big a deal in our industry anymore.

SMITH: Okay, I'm going to jump around because I do want to let you get back to work here. Um, the racing, are you involved with racing Quarter Horses at all?

SARGENT: I do not have any racing Quarter Horses. I have a few Thoroughbred mares here that I'm breeding to Quarter Horses now, hopefully that they may become running horses, race horses.

SMITH: They'd run in, as a Quarter Horse?

SARGENT: As a Quarter Horse. In the Quarter Horse industry, if one parent is a Thoroughbred and one is a Quarter Horse we have an appendix registry and once they earn 10 AQHA points, that's a register of merit, they are inspected, and if they show Quarter Horse characteristics 61:00then they are given a permanent number and they're considered a regular Quarter Horse. So, most racehorses are appendix horses.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: But I am involved with the racing association here trying to get more Quarter Horse racing in the area and all.

SMITH: Now is that, do I understand this correctly, there is only one Quarter Horse race in Kentucky right now, the Red Mile?

SARGENT: Red Mile puts on two days in July. This year I think it's in June. Used to be on July 4th weekend. They have two days.

SMITH: Why is that such a, is there just not that much interest in racing Quarter Horse in Kentucky or why is it so limited?

SARGENT: You might want to turn that off (Smith laughs) and I'll tell you.

SMITH: Okay well, we'll just keep going and then--

SARGENT: --okay--

SMITH: --you can tell me later.

SARGENT: Okay. It's all politics is what it all comes down to. It's 62:00a political thing that happened years ago. The Quarter Horse, racing Quarter Horse is still trying to get their foot back up and they're going about it, the Red Mile's been great giving them an avenue to run Quarter Horses to show the state has the interest and hopefully someone will build a strictly Quarter Horse track and we can get the legislative body to get a purse account started and when that happens then Quarter Horse racing will be back full-force. In the late, in the early 90s when it stopped in Paducah, it was one of the better Quarter Horse tracks in the county.

SMITH: Oh, okay.

SARGENT: For financial reasoning it had to end and it took us almost ten years to get Quarter Horse racing back in Kentucky, a little over ten years to get it back.

SMITH: Just to get the one race back?

SARGENT: Just to get racing back.

SMITH: Okay, um. I do understand. I have heard that they're somehow 63:00related to the BOBTROT?

SARGENT: Correct.

SMITH: So the politics, at some point I'll get that story on tape but you don't have to tell me if you don't want to.

SARGENT: I don't know enough about that but I know what's going on now. What's going on now is the HBPA has been fighting us to get on any Thoroughbred tracks. So that's where the Red Mile, were good enough, they don't have to deal with the HBPA 'cause they're a harness track. They were good enough to help work with us to have Quarter Horse racing at the Red Mile.

SMITH: Now, where else could they race them in Kentucky?

SARGENT: They could race on every race track if the HBPA would not be standing in our way.

SMITH: Is there still a racetrack in Paducah?

SARGENT: Yes. It's a, more of a training center now, I don't, there is no actual racing there. It's a training center I think now.

SMITH: I've read in the paper where Mr. Jones, is that right?

SARGENT: Johnny Jones, yes.


SMITH: Johnny Jones is interested in something in London?

SARGENT: Right, southeastern Kentucky, yes. He's owned, even though he owned Walmac, one of the most prestigious Thoroughbred farms in the world, he's always had running Quarter Horses. He kept most of them in Texas and Oklahoma and New Mexico, but he's, he's always had a great passion for the running Quarter Horse.

SMITH: So you see that this is something that the Kentucky group really is working towards?

SARGENT: Oh, yes, without a doubt. They're working very hard, with the help of KEEP and the AQHA. The AQHA has already made a stance. They want Kentucky to be the gateway to the south for running Quarter Horses. So it's all, the chemistry's there, it's just got to be put in place in the right order and we will see Quarter Horse racing here again.

SMITH: Do you see that as one of the biggest challenges facing the Quarter Horse industry in Kentucky, to try to get racing back?


SARGENT: I don't think it's one of the biggest, but it is a big challenge, yes.

SMITH: It's important to the industry?

SARGENT: It's important to the industry. Not just Quarter Horses but Thoroughbreds also because there are a lot of Thoroughbreds that would cross well on our Quarter Horses and make nice running Quarter Horse babies. It would make a market for the Quarter Horses and the Thoroughbreds and it's an avenue that's not been here for a long time. Just in the entertainment aspect as far as going to Quarter Horse racing and the fun and enthusiasm there is on a race that's that quick compared to some of the Thoroughbred races. I just think it would be, go hand-in-hand very well but some people don't' see it that way so it' been a bit of a challenge, so.

SMITH: It's a complicated industry.

SARGENT: It is, without a doubt. Anytime money's involved, it's complicated.

SMITH: That's right.


SMITH: And politics. How would you then describe the health of the 66:00Quarter Horse industry in the state right now? Would you say it's at a good point?

SARGENT: Oh, I think so. I think it's at a good point right now. I think that the thing the Quarter Horse industry offers that other breeds don't is the versatility of the horse. I mean, here, we might have some of the top working hunter horses in the country right here and a mile down the road Mike Flarida has some of the top reiners in the country so our horse, our horse can do so many different events and do them well, that it's very healthy. I mean, people love the Quarter Horse but they don't have to love the Quarter Horse for it to only do one thing. And there's a lot of these horses here that show quite 67:00heavily, quite extensively and then the owners will take them on large trail rides just to have fun and relax. You know, a lot of breeds can't do that. They can't take them out of the horse show environment and put them on a trail ride. I'm not saying not all of them. I'm not belittling any breed. But I mean here we've trained Morgans, we've had Morgans go to, matter of fact we had one that was a world champion. We've had Arabs. I've helped a couple people with their reiners in the, in the Arab world so I, Quarter Horse is my passion but I do a lot of different breeds, so. But I do feel that the Quarter Horse just offers a lot because they can do so many events. They can cater to so many different people.

SMITH: Now basically are they a healthy horse?

SARGENT: Very. Very.

SMITH: You have been involved in so many different organizations. The AQHA, you've been a director, you've been on task forces, you've served 68:00as a judge all over the world. (laughs)


SMITH: Why do you get so, what is it about the horses and the industry that made you want to be so involved, 'cause that's a lot of work?

SARGENT: Yeah, a few years ago one of my customers asked me that and they asked me why I keep doing it instead of putting my, more effort into my, my business. But if we don't have a healthy industry, and a healthy association to back the industry, I wouldn't have a business. So if we don't give back, pretty soon we'll wake up one day and not have anything. If we don't keep, if we don't keep a level playing field for our exhibitors, if we don't help find a market for our breeders, if we don't get new people enthused, like with Quarter Horse racing, we'll wake up one day and we'll not have anything. So, that's 69:00probably the biggest reason. I mean, it's, it's enjoyable for me, I enjoy it myself to be involved in that kind of stuff, but also if the people that can help don't help then pretty soon we'll have nothing.

SMITH: Is there any particular issues that led you to get involved with certain organizations, even KEEP, for example.

SARGENT: Probably in the beginning it was more of a level playing field. Everyone being treated the same at the horse show. That was probably the first part. The second part was just helping to encourage people to be part of it, to help our, our associations grow so our industries grew. And then with KEEP, the biggest reason I wanted to be part of KEEP was uh,, I agree with their ideas and their goals and it's 70:00probably the first time that I can ever remember that all the breeds can sat down at the table and get along. And the, and it's probably the biggest reason, is uh, that big rainbow at the end, where everybody has a chance to make their industry a little bit better instead of everybody trying to beat down on the other guy in the industry, in the horse industry, everyone's getting along very well. And I think this group of people that are involved now, they can see that if one benefits, they're all gonna benefit and they've been really good about that. The Thoroughbred industry has been really good about making sure the non-race breeds get their piece and I'd have to say that I, I was skeptical. I, I was part of the Horse Council for years and one reason I didn't stay involved with the Horse Council was because one breed was always trying to get a leg up on the other breed and I don't 71:00see that with KEEP. The, the leadership has been very good about that, so. Actually, some of the smaller breeds would not be in the position they're in now if it hadn't been for KEEP, making things, making sure nobody got left behind, so.

SMITH: Well, I know one thing that's been different in Kentucky is the Breeders Incentive Fund. Is that helpful to you?

SARGENT: Very. I would have two stallions standing here now instead of five. Three of them, one from Wisconsin, one from Mississippi, and one from Tennessee. They all came here because of the Breeders Incentive Fund, which means there's more mares here, which means more people want to show, because they can maybe get something back for it now, a little financial return.

SMITH: Now, this was the first year that Quarter Horses got?

SARGENT: They have not actually, we've not actually received any checks 72:00yet, but it was just all made official about two weeks ago.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: Each breed was charged with setting up their own program to fit their breed. The way we set up the Quarter Horse Incentive Fund, we're grandfathering in 2002 foals and younger. So, when we started working on this three years ago, 2002s were just coming two-year olds. So we never changed our language of, of our, uh, program but it's taken this long to get it in the works that now these guys that we were trying to get in as two-year olds to grandfather them in to make a little splash so people'd see our deal was working, they're now five-year olds. (both laugh) So, there's more of them gonna get checks this year, so, but that'll be a good thing. More people'll get a check; more 73:00people'll be encouraged, and enthused. And, I know some of the other breeds; they're just starting so it will two years down the road before anybody sees anything.

SMITH: But once it really gets established, you see it as being a, real positive?

SARGENT: Right. But that's one reason we grandfathered in at a certain age because we wanted that big burst all at once. We wanted people going, "Oh my gosh, look at what I got in the mail. I had no idea I was going to get this." Instead of, I know what we've gone through the last two years, trying to tell people about it, trying to get people to come here and breed, they're going, "Well, is it really official? Has anybody got any money yet?" We have to go, "Well, no, not yet." Well, they'll go, "Well, then we'll wait 'til next year." Where now, we're not going to be, even if those other breeds it's official, now they're still a year or two away from actually giving away any money. They're going to have that same problem that we're hoping by grandfathering in 2002 foals, we're going to eliminate that problem. We're going to have 74:00people right now wanting to be here and be part of this. So, that was our outlook on it.

SMITH: What are the other things that as you're involved in these Kentucky organizations that you feel need to be addressed to help the industry and the various issues on the table--everything from dealing with the slaughtering of horses to the gaming issue, the sales tax issue, all of the above, or--

SARGENT: Uh-hm. My opinion on all of them?

SMITH: Well, in general, which ones do you think, are you--

SARGENT: --I think the most unfair issue at the moment is the sales tax. I, I have a hard time understanding why I have to pay sales tax on feed. My neighbor down the road here has llamas and he doesn't have to pay sales tax on his feed. I have a little problem with that. I think it's unfair. If everyone paid sales tax I wouldn't care. I know when we were farming we paid no sales tax on anything that had anything 75:00to do with our cattle or our sheep. But if it went into that horse barn we had to pay sales tax on it. Made no sense to me. They're all agriculture animals. They all, they all ate the same feed and the same hay. But one got taxed and one didn't. So I think it's unfair. The gambling issue, at first I worried about it a little bit, being from the Bible Belt, but after looking at KEEP's plan and the way it's set up, every resident of Kentucky will benefit from that program whether they're in the horse industry or not, it's gonna help education, healthcare, community projects. It helps everyone. And I, if there was no gambling in our neighboring states, I would probably not be as for it but knowing all that money is leaving Kentucky and going to 76:00somewhere else and we're, we're losing the race in the education and the healthcare, I just have a hard time, I have a hard time not being for it. The slaughter bill, if you look outside here, I have a mare that's 35 years old, only has one tooth in her head and she has to get fed a mash twice a day, but I don't think it's right for someone to be told what they can or can't do with their personal property. If they want to take them to a horse sale, sell their horses, I don't think they should be stopped from doing that. I worry about unwanted horses being turned out on the highways and people being hurt or injured because of that more so than I worry about a few people in Kentucky sending their horses to the slaughter plant. I've seen it happen. I've had to work with the sheriff here, horses that are 77:00starved and not cared for. To me that's far worse than them going to a slaughterhouse because it's, they suffer bad when they're starving to death and I've had to see that, be involved with that. I think there has to be a compromise on it maybe, but I sure don't think it's right for what's probably going to happen. Our tax dollars are going to go to feed a lot of unwanted horses. Millions and millions of dollars. And a lot of people could be hurt or injured when these things start getting turned out on the highways. When it comes down to feeding your family or feeding a couple of horses that you want to sell and can't sell, what are you going to do. You're going to take care of your family first. And already with our laws on disposing of animals some people won't be able to afford it. Costs, costs a lot to put a horse down and then bury it, or have it disposed of.


SMITH: But you take care of yours.

SARGENT: Well, I take care of mine but if I had, if I had 4 or 5 that were old mares that I couldn't breed anymore and I took them to the auction and that guy that's there buying the lower end of the horse wasn't there anymore, I didn't take him to that auction because I wanted to bring him back home, you know. So I don't think, I think that this will stop people from handling their own personal property. I think it's a big issue. The other issue is I really, if I'd never been involved with a couple issues with these starving horses I probably wouldn't feel as strongly but, what I saw was flat inhumane and I think we'll see a lot more of it. There'll be a lot more of it on the news. We're gonna see a lot more of it.

SMITH: That's a scary thought.

SARGENT: And the tax thing, I have a real issue with that--our taxes paying for all of these unwanted horses and so many communities can't 79:00take care of them. I mean, I, we're lucky here 'cause we have a great shelter, we're in the Scott County Shelter but there are some counties that aren't equipped so what are they going to do? And I hadn't thought of it but one of the KEEPS board members, his concern there is, people that have to make that choice, between their family and their horse, they were to shoot it or put it out of its misery, where's it going to end up? In our water system, or in a sinkhole or, you know? We have to worry about that too. I mean, there's a bigger issue than just what people think of in a horse going to the slaughter. I mean there's a lot more to think about that I don't think they're thinking it all the whole way through. And I know that even right here with this old mare here, we won a lot with her and she raised us a lot of good babies and she'll stay here until she passes away but I still get, I still get a 80:00call every now and then from the humane center.

SMITH: Really?

SARGENT: People stop by and see this old thin horse and they think she's not being cared for and now they, I mean, they know this mare by name so they call me and they say, "Bennie, is CG still out in the front field." (Smith laughs) "Yeah, she is." "Okay, just making sure it's her." (Smith laughs) You know, it's almost like a joke now. But I mean, when they're 35 years old they are going to show a little wear and tear.

SMITH: Absolutely.

SARGENT: I mean, one person called, turned me in for feeding her mud. Well, she has to have a mash twice a day so it looks like mud in a bucket. So they called the Humane Society and told them I was feeding my horse mud. I wasn't even feeding her feed.

SMITH: Oh, gee.

SARGENT: So, we all have to live with it now, I mean, it's just part of it. The farms are getting pushed out, and. Even though it's a mile from here back to this subdivision they all walk around here, they all want to come and see the mares and the babies, they all want to come 81:00and pat the horses, but they don't understand that old horses still have to be cared for and they're not going to look the same as some young horses, so.

SMITH: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, I do want to congratulate you on being the Professional Horseman of the year for 2006.

SARGENT: Thank you.

SMITH: What did it mean to get that honor?

SARGENT: It was a very big surprise. I had, I knew that I'd been nominated but I was nominated last year also so, I didn't, I didn't expect it and my wife had known since January. They had called her to get a ring size and she had kept it a secret. I don't know how she did it but she kept it a secret from me and she flew my parents out there to Houston and my sister so they all were there, so, it was even, it was even a greater moment since my family was there. 'Cause they had never been to anything like that. They had never gone to any type of 82:00activities like that or any of the conventions and there were probably a couple thousand people there that night so--

SMITH: --that is nice.

SARGENT: --and a lot of Kentucky people there for the, since it was the awards dinner of the, the association, so it was a big surprise.

SMITH: Has any other Kentuckian won that award?

SARGENT: No, no. Not sure, anybody east, no Clark Bradley from Ohio, he may be the only other male that's won it east of the Mississippi River.

SMITH: Really?


SMITH: Well, well congratulations. That says a lot.

SARGENT: Well, thank you. It meant a lot. Yeah, my wife put together this really nice party. Couple weeks afterwards. A surprise party and almost 200 people showed up and that was quite rewarding to see people, clients and people that had worked for me 20 years ago, they all came. So, it was, she did a good job. I knew something was going on 'cause 83:00of all the phone calls but I just thought it was like you know, a handful of people were going to get together. I had no idea she had rented a place and a couple hundred people were coming and she did a, a DVD presentation and all of that. Norm Luba kind of emceed it and Dr. Coleman from UK was there to help him with the equipment so it ended up, pictures from a long time ago. I mean, it was pretty fun but um--

SMITH: That's great. That's great. There was one other thing I didn't ask you about, and I'll just ask this shortly and I know I'm just jumping around from one thing to another and I apologize but I was looking at all the places that you had judged, going to New Zealand--


SMITH: How does all this come about. Is that unusual for a judge or are you that--

SARGENT: --actually there's a lot of judges that, that go overseas.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: How it kinda came about, once I got my judges card, I'd only had my judges card two years and they asked me to go to Germany, I'm 84:00sorry, Belgium, to judge the Belgium Nationals and that was the first time I'd been to Europe and, uh, I enjoyed it. It was different, you know. Anytime you do something that's that different, but I enjoyed it and then the next year, they, I went to Groditz(??), Germany and I judged the European championships and that was 28 or 29 countries were there and I've done that show twice now and--

SMITH: And you just judge the Quarter Horse?

SARGENT: The Quarter Horse part of it and then I went to Austria about 2000 maybe and I did the Austrian Nationals and that was an all breed deal. I did the Quarter Horse part, which was for AQHA points but another judge from Austria and I judged the all breed part, we judged all the classes together and they averaged the scores and that was really enjoyable. I, I saw breeds of horses I didn't even 85:00know existed. Blackforest. I'd never heard of a breed called the Blackforest. So, you know, it was, that show was very enjoyable just because of that because of that, I got to see and experience different breeds. They were all doing stock seat events, thought, they all did the pleasure, the reining, the trail, the western riding, but they were breeds I'd never seen before and the lady, and I, she was a, she was a doctor from uh, Vienna and her name escapes me right now but she was really helpful. She could speak English. No one else on that show grounds could speak English so that was a little tough but that, she was really good about making sure I didn't make a real jerk out of myself. (Smith laughs) But anyway. And in New Zealand, when I went to New Zealand and judged their national show, they have their own Quarter Horse registry there because it costs so much to ship horses in--

SMITH: --okay--

SARGENT: --the uh, in American dollars, it's like $20,000 to ship one 86:00in there--I'm sorry New Zealand dollars, 'cause it's 2 to 1 is the difference. Five thousand American dollars, so what would that be, $15,000. So it's pretty expensive for them so they have a hard time shipping horses in so they have their own registry. So I went there and judged three days and I actually only judged two Quarter Horse classes. There were actually AQHA classes because there's just not that many of them. They have New Zealand Quarter Horses, not American Quarter Horses. So the rest of the horse show was New Zealand Quarter Horses and then the AQHA has a World Cup for youth exhibitors they put on every other year somewhere in the United States-- I'm sorry, somewhere in the world. A different country hosts it every two years. Well, when you judge their national show you help pick their World Cup so I had to keep notes of all the youth kids that were eligible for 87:00the New Zealand World Cup and then when it was all over, the horse show was all over, the National Show had this big banquet and they gave away trophies to everyone. I had to give my idea of who should be on their World Cup team and then their youth advisors and I agreed on which kids would make the World Cup team. So that was kinda exciting, that you know, that you had that kind of influence and the show wasn't going to be for two years yet when I did it, you know. So, I enjoyed that and New Zealand is the most beautiful country I've ever seen anywhere.

SMITH: I've heard that.

SARGENT: If I wasn't going to live in Kentucky that's where I'd want to live. It was gorgeous. I enjoyed, I enjoyed my stay there quite a bit.

SMITH: Are you still active as a judge?

SARGENT: Yes, I just judged the Congress last year and that was the third time I've judged the Quarter Horse Congress. I just got back from Virginia. Last week I judged a show in Lexington, VA for five days. I was over there.

SMITH: So you have a pretty busy time showing and judging.



SMITH: How much are you gone?

SARGENT: All those little blue lines I am gone. (both laugh)

SMITH: Okay. A long time.

SARGENT: And that's not even up to date because I have to go to Canada in August and it's not even up there yet and that's kinda the horse shows and where I'm judging and where I'm showing at.

SMITH: Do you enjoy traveling?

SARGENT: No, not really, but I enjoy judging and it's something I thought about doing for a long time before I ever got a judges card to do it.

SMITH: When did you get your judges card?

SARGENT: '97. So I haven't had it that long really. But, but I do enjoy it. And I'm a Paint horse judge now too so I judged the Paint world show last year. And uh, I've judged Buckskins and I judge Palominos also.


SMITH: But Quarter Horse is still your favorite.

SARGENT: Right, it's my favorite. Most all those other breeds are really Quarter Horses anyway so. I mean, the Palomino and the Buckskin are just a color. 95 per cent of them are Quarter Horses. A lot of the Paints are all, have Quarter Horse background so.

SMITH: A lot of the events are the same.

SARGENT: The same. The events are almost identical and almost all of the other breeds follow AQHA's lead on the rules so I mean, there are differences. I have to study up on them before I go to judge a different breed horse show but the basic concept is all the same, which it makes it better. You're not going to mess up your judging or break a rule you don't even know exists or something like that.

SMITH: Have you, ever have any trouble judging? Someone not to happy with your--

SARGENT: Oh yeah, that happens every now and then, that happens every now and then. Usually when it happens it's when they think you didn't see it. Like if someone makes a mistake and they don't think you saw 90:00them make the mistake and then when you tell them when they come to ask you and you tell them, "Well, you mean right over here when you did this? Oh, you saw that." And it's usually all over. (Smith laughs)

SMITH: Should be.

SARGENT: Yeah, that's usually, that's usually the only time I hear much. I don't hear much.

SMITH: That's pretty good.

SARGENT: Yeah, it's not a big deal. I, I did, judged a Paint show a year ago September in Tennessee for a gentleman who's supposed to judge from Ohio and he'd had cancer surgery and he just couldn't go do it. It was my only day off, my only Saturday off in three months--

SMITH: --oh--

SARGETN: --and so I didn't want to really go but he was kind of in a bad shape so I went to do it for him. Well, anyway to make a long story short, the Paint--on our score sheets they have the rule, the penalties at the top of our score sheet so when we're scoring them you don't have to go, oh was that a 3 or a 1, it's all written out for you. They do a certain thing you know how many penalty points to give them. Well the 91:00Paints had adopted the score sheet in the summer but the rule didn't take effect until January 1--

SMITH: --ooh--

SARGENT: --so I'm sitting here scoring this trail off of the January 1 score sheets that have already been put out and the rule wasn't in effect and I d'qed 3 or 4 horses and that rule wasn't to take effect until January 1.


SARGENT: So they complained. I apologized. Got the book out and read it, saw I made the mistake. The way our rules read, once you sign your judges card you can't change it unless it's a clerical error, you know, you add your points up wrong or something like that. Your judgment can't be changed. And I said, "I'm really sorry I can't change it. I've already signed the card. I apologize, but I can't change it." Well they raised a little Cain and they, they didn't want to pay me for the day and all this and so, anyway, I try to make it a habit, even if I d'q someone I score them on that and all that rest of the way out 92:00through the class. So even though they have the zero score I still have the little scoring out there that I actually gave them.

SMITH: Okay.

SARGENT: So, the secretary told me, "What they're really upset with you about is you've messed up their year-end awards." I said, "You know what. I kept a score on every horse. You can have my score sheets, you can place the class, it won't be official, but you can place the class for your little club year- end awards and everybody's." She said, "No, that won't be good enough." So, they wrote me up. That's the only time I've ever been written up for any breed and I got written up over that.

SMITH: Well, it's crazy to have the score, give you a score sheet--

SARGENT: --oh, I know--

SMITH: --that doesn't, isn't right.

SARGENT: I know. (Smith laughs) But the first rule in that rulebook says the judge is responsible for all rules and knowing all rules.

SMITH: Well-- (Sargent laughs)

SARGENT: --I tried that, it didn't (Smith laughs). But anyway. They slapped me on the hand, told me to be more careful. But you know, it's just one of those things. And I went out of my way as far as I could to make it right it just didn't satisfy that group of people, so, that's the way it goes, so. That happens.


SMITH: That's part--a part of it.

SARGENT: Yeah, that's part of it. You gotta have thick skin too, so.

SMITH: Well, I'll just ask you a final question then, unless you can think of anything else you might want to tell me and that'd be, as you look back, you've mentioned quality of life, and those kind of issues. As you look back on your career with horses, what has it meant to you to work with horses, as your career?

SARGENT: It's gone way too fast, first. But it's uh, it's rewarding, maybe in a different way than a non-horse person would see or a non- competitor. Taking a young horse, sometimes it might take 2 or3 years before you ever get it to that level it can go to the World Show, get a big prize at the World Show. Your peers acknowledging that. Your peers knowing that if you're there with one, it's probably going to be a good one. That means a lot. It's nothing I would have traded. 94:00I don't think I would have done anything different. But uh, that's probably the biggest thing. Just knowing inside that you do a good job and people appreciate it. Doing it the right way.

SMITH: Do you ever regret not becoming a veterinarian?

SARGENT: No, Not after I see how hard Dr. Cleveland's got to work. No.

SMITH: Well, is there anything else you'd like to add before we conclude this for now? We've covered a lot.

SARGENT: No, not that I can think of. If you think of anything else just call me and if we want to add something or whatever you want to do is fine.

SMITH: Okay, well, I'll try to pick a time of year, if there is such a thing when you're not so busy. I'll go ahead and stop this.

SARGENT: Actually, this wasn't too bad. This was not as bad as I was afraid it might be, so.

SMITH: Well, good, good. Well you can see we went an hour and 35 minutes. That's not too bad.


[End of interview.]

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