WALZ PERFORMANCE HORSES - IMA FIREFIGHTER & SWEEP THE LEG JOHNNY
We recently visited with Sonja Walz of WALZ PERFORMANCE HORSES. Self-described as a very motivated, happy person, Sonja says, “I feel like I've always got a bazillion things going on at once but I think I hate sitting still!” It is easy to see why they have built a successful breeding business.
Sonja grew up in northwestern South Dakota on her parents’ ranch. She describes her parents, Deb and Greg Wamman as “the most amazing people…they have always been supportive of me!” My horse life started on my parents’ ranch, then moved onto horse shows then rodeoing.
My grandpa bought me my first pony for my birthday, and after that I was HOOKED! As a little girl I was involved in horseshows and I loved to jump! I can't remember the for sure number, but I was grand or reserve champion jumper for our state multiple times!....I have always competed. My main event for the longest time was breakaway; and to be honest, roping is still a great love of mine! I won numerous year end and fast time breakaway awards. But in our area, the horse show thing died out so the next step was to rodeo! So, I turned my western riding/reining horse into a pole bending and breakaway horse.
We now live in Ainsworth Nebraska. My husband, Jim, keeps me going....trying to compete against the toughest barrel racers out there can be very stressful, and when I get overwhelmed he is my rock! I also have two wonderful daughters who are as horse crazy as I am! Kieley is 7 and Kinsey is 4. When I'm not doing horse stuff I am spending time with my family and most of that time involves horses too because the girls are as horse crazy as I am and Jim loves to rope.
A Horse Business is Born!
When I decided that I really wanted to be more than a competitor, I decided my next venture would be to start my own breeding and performance horse business! I decided if I was going to do it, by golly I was going to DO IT! So, I searched for a year to find the perfect stallion for me. And that stallion was (and still is!), Ima Firefighter. He is by Fire Water Flit out of a mare that took Rayel Robinson to multiple Canadian Finals. He was bred by Grant Little from Canada.
After Jim, "Backdraft" is my number 2 man! Every day I am amazed with him. There is something magical about him. Of course I believe his pedigree and conformation make him a worthy sire, but it is more than that. It is the charisma and his personality that make him amazing. He still gives me goosebumps and that fluttery feeling inside every day. This is the quality that I love in his colts as well. They have his "look" and his good attitude. Ima Firefighter is a 1D money earner, and has earned rodeo money in the barrels and the heeling. His first baby to compete, I Wanna Firefighter, is a futurity money earner!
Our next stallion came into our program because we wanted to give people two different stallion options. Sweep The Leg Johnny si 101 is sired by the great Heza Fast Man and is out Lil Bit Dash by Dash for Cash. Lil Bit Dash is a proven producer and also a sister to a world champion! Sweep The Leg Johnny is a race winner who has a AAA+ speed index. He did not futurity as he was purchased too late for that, but we did run him in one maturity in Arizona as a 6-year old and he placed in the 1D there. Now he is one of the horses my husband team ropes on. He is calm, friendly and truly an explosive athlete. The power and speed that he has is mind-blowing! Sweep The Leg Johnny si 101 does not have any foals of competitive age yet, but is a race winner and a barrel money earner. He is headed to the team roping competition in 2014.
With a little help from my Friends!
I send my babies to Matt Elliott to put the first month or two on them. After that it is me! Several years ago, I sent some to Hallie (Melvin) Hansen. She is a great trainer! But now I am working hard to become a great trainer myself, so now the horses stay with me. But, that doesn't mean I don't ask for advice from some of my amazing friends! I occasionally show a video to Lisa Lockhart or call her with a question and she is always great about pointing out what it is that I am missing. The other people who I seek advice from are Kelly Kaminski, Kelly Conrado, and my good friend Jena Garwood.
Time and Effort
Sonya’s advice for getting into the breeding business….visit with someone already in the business first! Don't get me wrong, I love what I am doing and would not trade it for anything. But it is not as simple as "go buy a pretty stud and then have people pay you to breed to him", there are hours of phone conversations, advertising budgets, trips to and from vet clinics for collection/shipments and to get your mares bred, and the biggest thing is dealing with the stallions. Our guys are very well-mannered and easy to handle. But they are still stallions and as such, they require more time and effort.
Short term goals~To take my two Ima Firefighter geldings to the Arizona Futurities and have them perform well, then continue into the fall futurities with them.
Long Term Goals~To make Walz Performance Horses one of the top names in our industry! If people are going to breed to our stallions or purchase a prospect from us, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to insure that their horses are going to continue to increase in value because their bloodlines are well-known and in demand!
Evolution of the breeding business:
I think that embryo transfer is an amazing thing! It allows us to keep using our best mares while still being able to cross them on our stallions! Plus, we can offer their embryos for sale to our customers. These mares include a Dash Ta Fame daughter, a Frenchmans Guy daughter, a Reys Dual Badger (NCHA World Champion) daughter and a 3/4 sister to Insane for Fame! I charge $1500 for the embryo and our vet charges $1000 to do the procedure. We just might be the most affordable option for people to have some of the best bloodlines in their next prospect.
Our motto is: PROVEN PERFORMERS BACKED BY POWERFUL GENETICS!
We have prospects for sale out of the top bloodlines in the industry! Plus, we allow you to purchase an embryo from one of our mares and breed her to the stallion of your choice! We would hope that your choice would be one of ours, but if it isn't that is fine. We know that there are numerous amazing stallions out there and crossing them on our mares is still going to result in a great horse with the Walz Performance Horses bloodlines!
WALZ PERFORMANCE HORSES
402-760-1624 cell or 402-387-2096
(c) 2013 Reprint
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