What it’s like to train an NFR horse

We caught up with Ashley Schafer and Kelsey Lutjen to find out what it has been like having horses they trained running at the WNFR.

Here’s what Ashley had to say about Freckles Ta Fame (Can Man):

  • When did you start riding Can Man?
    I got Can Man in March of his four-year-old year. He had been started on the barrels and Joe {Spitz} asked me to campaign him at the futurities. We went to the futurities from July through December. He won $27,000 in that short time and he placed in every futurity we went to but one.
  • When did you know he was a good one?
    I could tell pretty early on that he was special. He had the best disposition of any stallion that I had been around. We had a mutual respect for one another and I knew that he was going to do big things!
  • How was he to train?
    He was very willing and trainable. The main thing was not to “override” him. He seemed to run the best when I would ride the hind quarters and let him feel like he was running out from under me. That sounds crazy but it won us a lot of money! He and his sister (Famed French Kiss) are the most honest horses I’ve ever ridden. They know where their feet are suppose to be and they love their job!
  • How would you describe him?
    While Can Man did well in the futurities, he was destined for the bright lights! He is like a different horse when the music is turned up and the crowd is going wild! It’s almost like he knows that they are there to see him and he better give them a show! The first time I got to run him in an atmosphere like that was at the ERA rodeos last year and it was electrifying! I was so grateful to get to experience riding him in that kind of atmosphere. I already knew he was amazing and he showed me a whole new gear that was unbelievable!
  • What does it mean to see him at the NFR?
    I can’t express how excited I was to hear that he was going to the NFR as Brittnay’s backup horse. Shali Lord has had a stellar year on him and this is just icing on the cake! As a futurity trainer, there is nothing more exciting than seeing a horse you had a hand in go on to do big things! I look forward to the rest of the week!
  • Anything else you would like to add?
    Congrats to Can Man’s owners, Joe and Carla Spitz, as well as Can Man’s jockey, Shali Lord! Thanks to Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi for running him! We are all so delighted he is getting the opportunity to show his talent to the world!

Here’s what Kelsey had to say about KN Fabs Gift of Fame (JLo):

I started riding JLo as a 3 year old. She was fairly easy to train, but she was a very stiff feeling mare. I was worried about that because up to that point, I had liked the bendy, rounder type horses. You had to ride her straight up into the barrel & not give her much room because she would knock them with her hip on the back side. She took some learning & being open minded to figure her out.

I knew she had a fire in her that very few horses possess. She is a freak- she’s never not done her job. I knew she could be pretty cool early on, but i didn’t realize how great she was until January of her futurity year. I won the New Years Futurity, 2nd at the Classic Equine, won the Greg Olson & the slot race on her running a 16.9. I knew she was a great horse at that point. She went on to win the BBR finals and the Fizz Bomb. I believe I won one other Futurity on her as well, can’t remember off the top of my head. I also won 4th at the Snake River Stampede, Nampa, Idaho her futurity year along with other rodeo placings.

JLo can be quirky. She’s gotten better but she used to set back terrible! She’s broke a bunch of tie rings on my trailer! She’s got a lot of confidence but also a sensitive horse. You can hurt her feelings pretty easy.

It’s pretty neat to see her at the NFR. A horse you’ve put your heart & soul into to make the best she can be and see her run at the big show is pretty amazing! I’m forever grateful to have gotten to ride and train her. But, I believe she trained me as much as I trained her. She’s a super horse and I have so much respect for her. She just possesses a figure that not many others do. There will never be another one just like JLo!

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