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Some May Say It Was Luck – But Was It?
Lisa Nicholas & Stoli My Guy aka “Stoli” did not just get lucky-her story is about making choices, setting goals and sticking to them. By dedicating yourself and working hard--your dreams can come true! We hope you enjoy this--I know we did!

Elite/JB Quarter Horse Futurity, Waco, TX in November 2013
Everyone keeps asking about the total so here goes....after the dust settled, Stoli My Guy brought home $18,331.43, two buckles, and a custom Martin saddle. How blessed am I?!?! And the best part is that this show was only 1-1/2 hrs from home so Jeremy, the kiddos, and ALL MY FRIENDS got to be a part of it. You guys were such a great support system this weekend. Thank you for all the kind words. I know I’m kind of the hermit that hangs out in the corners of the arena so I just want you to know how much I appreciate all of you guys!

Lisa’s Game Plan and How It Played Out
I was a bit nervous for this race because we ran in this same pen a few weeks ago for the WPRA Finals and Stoli was a little apprehensive running to the second barrel. There was a vendor booth directly behind it with lots of bling so it took her a couple of runs to feel comfortable running to her spot behind that barrel. So I was THRILLED to see solid black tarps behind the second barrel for this show! I was very satisfied with her first run–I ran her aggressively to make sure we were clean and she stayed low and clocked well for me. Even though we were daylighted by Talmadge, I was still pretty stoked with her 15.0. But I did something that could’ve really backfired on me for the championship round. I had planned to play it safe and keep some distance between her and the barrels to make a nice safe clean run for average money.  I made sure to NOT over ride and made a safe fluid run to see the clock stop again at 15.0. After Talmadge knocked the first barrel I thought I had won the avg with my two 0s. It was my fault for ASSUMING it was paid on an average since the first round did not pay. It actually was a clean slate for the finals so I’m still thrilled with 2nd but you better believe I will read the rules next time! LOL! I’m so glad she made the same run with or without me pushing because I almost “safety’d” us right out of the money! But it was nice to see Andrea win too – on a nice horse that has been competitive all year long.

Who’s Lisa and Where Did She Come From?
I grew up a city kid in Wichita Falls, TX. My parents weren’t big animal people--I dreamt of riding horses! The first thing I did when I graduated from college was to get a real job, move to Austin, TX, and buy a horse!! I rented this run down single-wide trailer on a 10 acre lot owned by an older man with a few racehorses. Part of the responsibility of renting there was to take care of his horses. So my first experience with riding was on his barely broke 2 and 3-year olds; and I loved it! At the time I was naïve! I thought this guy was doing me a favor letting me ride and now I look back and laugh at all the free colt riding he got at my expense! I thought ALL horses rode like that. I didn’t know how a broke one could ride until I bought my own 3-year old and finished him out! I would NOT have had it any other way. That whole experience lit my fire for training colts…I met a much older gentleman by the name of Jake Bush--he worked feed lots on horse back for much of his life after serving in the military and was my idol in training colts. I started out team penning and sorting cows. Jake taught me how to have soft hands and what it means for a horse to be truly broke and supple from head to tail.

My degree is in computer science from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. I landed a pretty lucrative computer programming job with IBM. I lived in 2 worlds–clean proper software Engineer by day and filthy cowgirl by night!  I wasn’t in love with my profession but I was good at it and it funded my horse habits. Before too long I had outgrown the rental property and bought a 50-acre piece of raw land in Briggs, TX about 45 miles north of Austin and bought a few horses.

I met my husband Jeremy at IBM. We could not be more different--I am quite reserved and Jeremy is very social and in the sales field. I have a strong personal relationship with God and believe that He is in control of our life paths and is responsible for dropping this very handsome, sales guy at my feet!  We had the same views on finances, family, and horses so it was a match made in Heaven. Jeremy was amazingly natural with the colts from the start. We’ve been married over 10 years now with two great kids–a son, Dalton 9 and a daughter, Skyler 5. Our business is a family business–we have hauled everywhere as a family from the time the kids were babies. A truck full of babies and a trailer full of colts with an open horse sprinkled in there from time to time!

The Ribbit Ranch “Frog”
Everyone wants to know where our frog brand came from – I had a nicknamed Jeremy “Froggy” while we were dating and it just stuck. A frog seemed unique so it goes on all of our horses. Then the name Ribbit Ranch seemed appropriate to go with the frog and our growing business.

I haven’t focused in on any one bloodline—I like to stay diversified! I bought a beautiful black mare by Dash For Perks out of a Mystic Eye mare on a steal and she broke her leg before I ever got to ride her! Sooo that’s our broodmare! I guess that’s the beauty of broodmares—you don’t have to buy one, they just happen!! In the barn we currently have Firewater Flits, Mr Jesss Perry, First Down Dash Hot Corona, Dash Ta Fame, Frenchmans Guy, Stoli, A Steak Of Fling, Bully Bullion, and On The Money Red. I lean toward mares as my favorite to run but I train geldings too.

“God Has a Plan”
My division was shut down at IBM and I was laid off when Dalton was just an infant. God as a plan! It was at that time that Jeremy’s career began to really take off. We decided I’d be a stay at home mom and focus my career toward my true passion of horse training. Things happen for a reason—sometimes you don’ts understand it when you’re in the moment. We started off training horses for the public but grew tired of taming some of the fire-breathing dragons sent to us! It’s more fun training our own to compete on and eventually sell.

We start most of the young horses ourselves but when there’s a time crunch we send them to Mitzi Mayes in Lexington, TX—a SERIOUS hand on a horse. If Mitzi can’t break it—you don’t want to own it!!! I don’t like any more than 30 days on them because that part is what I enjoy most. I love to take a stiff green horse that knows nothing and help him transform into a soft workable athlete. Once the horse is seasoned I don’t work the barrel pattern anymore—I’ll just do conditioning workouts—I alternate long trot/lope for 2 miles. I wear a GPS so I can leave the arena and know how far I’ve gone…To break the monotony sometimes

On their riding day I will set up cones and tires in various patterns and do some drills. I don’t tune on their barrel pattern at this point be-cause it’s been my experience that if a seasoned horse has started having problems running their pattern, the cause is more likely soreness related.

Our long-term goal is to have a few nice horses running every year with a string of babies started behind them. Right now, I have a 3 year old gelding started behind Stoli that we raised. He’s by Flaming Fire Water out of a Jody O Toole mare. I will hit the futurity trail with him in December! Stoli will be along for the ride to derby and I would like to sell some embryos from her. I thoroughly enjoy jackpots, the bigger races, and futurities rather than rodeo.

I am a freak about conditioning. I never want to lose a race because my horse is out of shape. I REALLY wanted a horse swimming pool but could not justify the expense so we built one and swam outside horses for 4 years until we paid it off. Now it’s my personal pool. I make out my list of which horses swim and which ones ride each day—each ride is different depending on what stage of training they are in and how the previous ride on them went. I think I appreciate my job so much more because I’ve been in the corporate world and know I don’t ever want to go back after having this opportunity. That was work but this is fun!

I still own the one colt I’m probably known for. He’s the only horse I own over the age of 4. Iron Headed Horse aka “Primetime” is a gray son of Iron Bird and is now 14. We bought him as a 3 yr old. I wasn’t thrilled with him because he was really waspy and had bucked me off a time or two. I soon found out I was pregnant with Dalton and stopped riding. Jeremy thought Primetime was really special so he started him on barrels and had him running so nice when I was ready for my comeback. Primetime became such a nice Open Horse and won a lot. Last year he filled my WPRA permit. Jo Alexander, a good friend of ours, convinced me that I needed to go run futurities. She is responsible for planting the seed.

“Next year I’ve planned to venture out further!”
My friends Troy and Jamie Ashford wanted me to look at a 2-year old filly by their new stallion Traffic Guy. Again, paths were crossing for a reason. At this time Traffic Guy wasn’t very well known. He was already a nice barrel and rope horse himself. She is out of a daughter of Stoli once owned by Kristi & Chuck Peterson. Troy and Jamie brought out Traffic and saddled him up and had me take him for a spin through the barrels. He’s so powerful through his turns and SO good minded. Talk about a nice way to market your colts!! I knew I was buying this filly at that point. While I was training his filly, Stoli My Guy, Tammy Fischer started tearing up the scene on Traffic and confirmed to me that I had made the right decision. This year I had planned to just experiment in the Futurities and only ran in Texas and Oklahoma. Next year I’ve planned to venture out further!

Now, let me tell you something about Stoli My Guy. She is THE rankest colt we’ve ever started and continues to press her luck. She darts around and bucks nearly every time I ride her–even in my own home arena. There’s no use in hiding it because nearly everyone has witnessed an episode in the warm-up pen.  Jeremy says she’s not rank–she just has “grit.”  He totally defends her!  I don’t worry about the 16 seconds through the pattern–I know I can count on her for that. It’s the warm-up pen that I dread! Stoli has a very light mouth and face. For a good while I ran her in a hackamore which really isn’t my favorite training tool but she preferred to work off the nose. She strongly resisted any kind of bit but I finally got her to accept one. So I had a combo bit made that has a rubber covered chain for the nose because it’s lighter and softer than a rope nose with a large 2-piece smooth mouth and it’s perfect. She has an easy lowa take off down the alley so you’re not launched and unseated. Her run itself is very elegant and fluid. She doesn’t come out of her turns with explosive back-jarring speed. It feels like one continuous motion all the way through. She runs a pretty mean pole pattern too.

“Work Until Your Idols Become Your Rivals”
I’m HUGE on preventative maintenance!  Have their mouth balanced and worked on by an equine dentist or a vet specializing in dentistry before you even attempt to start one and then maintain it!  Just knocking the points off in a typical float is not the same thing as balancing their mouth. I use Nick Moore located in Georgetown, TX. He is a veterinarian specializing in Dentisty. Use a reliable chiropractor and a vet known for his lameness diagnosing skills!

I am sponsored by MVP. Stoli enjoys the Exceed 6 way –I love how the comprehensive formula addresses so many needs–especially the joints. I have no other sponsors at this point but would love to finalize some! My dream is to secure an Under Armour sponsorship. I am a UA junkie and would love to help tailor some of their items to better suit us jockeys. So if any of you have a UA connection – hook me up!!

I Give Thanks for Encouragement and Support to….Jacque Woolman, Tammy Fischer, Cressent Nickes, the Rucker, the Killingsworths and most importantly, I want to thank my husband whose sacrifices have made this dream come true. He’s such a selfless individual—at motivating me to keep on keeping on. He has never been upset over a bad run on a high entry fee–he knows I’m hard enough on myself. Child care all falls on him if I leave to run, in addition to his having a “real job” with high stress quotas. Being around this Futurity crowd the past year has sort of brought me out of my shell. I feel like I belong here. There are no egos because we are all riding babies and they are unpredictable! No one has treated me like the unwell-come new kid. They are quick to congratulate me and come up and tell me how much they like my mare. It’s such an awesome feeling to hear that from all these fierce riders that I’ve always read about and looked up to. I read a phrase the other day that said “Work until your idols become your rivals” and I think that has been so appropriate for my journey.

Courtesy Lisa Nicholas
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