As I type this the final shows of the 2018 season are underway, with November 16th being the cut off for weekend haulers attempting to make the NCHA World Finals. Hailey Schafer, of Arizona, has officially "made it", currently sitting sixth in the 15,000 Amateur class with $6,812 in earnings. No stranger to the Watt Arena, Schafer was Reserve Champion in the 2,000 Limit Rider in 2017, with the help of her great horse, Smart Chula Dual. Western Twist Media sits down with Hailey to talk all things Haulin', what she learned this year and why "Chewy" is so beloved to her.
Smart Chula Dual and Hailey Schafer cutting under the big lights of Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Midge Ames
Tell me a little about your horse...
His registered name is Smart Chula Dual, he is a son to Chula Dua and out of Little Lena Merada Smart Little Lena x Lena Merada). His barn name is Chewy; however, he also goes by Chew, Chew Chew, Chewbacca, or really just what anyone feels like calling him that day.
Tell me a little bit about their personality?
He is Mr. Personality let me tell ya. He is an absolute perfectionist he only pees in one spot in his stall and will not spread his poop around. When you lope him he totally takes over and goes into autopilot almost. But when it's time to work or show he is all business no games at all. As soon as he's done though he wants all the love and attention and cookies that he can get. He also is just the biggest sweetheart and cuddle bug. We always cuddle in his stall when he’s laying down. He’s also got one of the kindest hearts I have ever seen. I can trust anyone and everyone being around him and not worry whatsoever. However, sometimes when you’re riding him he will spook and get all weird at the most random stuff so I wouldn’t turn just anyone loose on his back. He also HATES rubber mats and refuses and will not stand on a rubber matt, he’s just a big goof and I absolutely love him to death.
What is your favourite thing about your pony?
My absolute favorite thing about him would most definitely have to be his heart and try every single time we are in the show pen. He just gives it his all every single time and does not hold anything back. He’s also my best friend and I can always count on him to have my back and I never worry about him being able to hold a cow or not cause I know he will give it everything he's got no matter what.
How long have you had your horse and how did they come into your life?
Well my cousin had owned him for about 2 ½ years before he was actually mine but he lived at my house at the time.
Who originally trained it and bred it and who showed it previous to you?
John Burgess originally trained him and my cousin was showing him in high school before I started showing him. Describe their style in the show pen?
He is super gritty and will not let a cow by at all cost. He can be real slow and pretty but really he just likes to go fast cause that's where all the action is. He absolutely hates going slow in the pen you can just see it on his face while we’re showing, it's almost like it bores him.
What class(es) do you show in?
Right now I am just showing in the $15,000 Amateur class.
Photo Credit: S. Sylvester Photography
Leading up to this year, what was your biggest accomplishment or favourite moment in the cutting pen ?
Definitely would have to be being crowned the 2017 Reserve World Champion in the $2,000 Limited Rider.
When you started out the year, what were your goals? Was it always to make world finals?
Well I changed my mind quite often. At first i was only going to show a little bit and keep my eligibility under $15,000 so that I could haul hard next year. Then we started doing really good and i just wanted to make top 15 and once we reached that I decided i wanted finish out top 5. Is this the first time you are going to be headed to world finals?
I was blessed enough to be able to go last year as well and it was by far the neatest thing I had ever done in my life.
Do you ride with a trainer, if so, who?
Well my main trainer is Tosten Peterson, him and his wife Kt are just the best really they’re always cracking jokes to take the pressure off and always take care of me and Chew and make sure we got everything we need. However, if there is a show that I want to go to and he won’t be at Todd and Kim Adolf are generous enough to adopt me for a show. Tim Smith also helped me out a bunch the first half of the year before I got in with Tosten.
What is the best advice your trainer has ever given you? Is there something they tell you a lot?
He just always tells me to just go slow and not to rush things and let Chewy handle it. Otherwise I tend to get going a tad bit fast.
Photo Credit: Ted Petit Photography
What has been the highlight of your year so far?
The highlight of my year so far was when I went to Western Nationals in Denver with Todd and Kim Adolf. Not only did Chewy and I make it back to the finals in both the $2,000 Limited Rider and $15,000 Amateur class but we ended up top 10 in the $2,000 Limited Rider and were reserve champs in the $15,000 Amateur.
Have you had a low point?
Oh yes, for about 2 or 3 shows it seemed like we could just not get through a run.
How did you get through it?
Well I finally thought to myself we were both ready and were very capable of getting the job done we just needed to go do it, and not show so scared but show with the confidence i had been all year. Do you get nerves/anxiety in the show pen?
Not usually, only if it's either for something big like at the finals or if I pressure myself up.
If so, how do you deal with them?
I try to just take deep breaths and shake it off and just focus on one cow at a time.
What was the best advice you received in the show pen, or about cutting, this year?
To trust my horse and let him handle the tough situations instead of getting in his way and making his job harder for him.
What is one thing that you think you’ve conquered, or gotten a lot better at, this year?
I’ve gotten a lot better at slowing my cuts down and slowing everything down so that my runs are much prettier and smoother.
What’s your “real life job?”
For my “real life job” I run my dads rehab center. We are still building it up but so far we have a equine pool and a magna wave machine which I am certified in. What’s your best tip for balancing real life with hauling?
Always make sure you have someone that it able to fill in for you and someone that you can trust with everything at home while you are away.
What could you not live without at a cutting?
I always gotta have my coffee! It’s just a must! Also everytime right before we walk into the pen i will get off and give Chewy a big ol hug and kiss on the nose and tell him how much I love him and just thank him for everything he’s done for me, I cannot walk into the pen without doing this.
What’s your number one tip for hauling down the road?
My number one tip for hauling down the road would be to not worry about the big dance at the end of the year or about where you’re at in the standings, just take it one show at a time and everything else will take care of itself.
Have you had to haul pretty hard this year?
Everywhere we have gone has probably been atleast 10 hours away. The farthest we went was Redmond, Oregon and that was a 20 hour drive.
What is your favourite show to haul too, and why?
Definitely Vegas, Chewy just loves the big lights and really always shines big in Vegas.
If you could show to one song, what would it be?
It would definitely have to be Legend by The Score. I just feel like that song fits Chew and I both perfectly.
Have you had an embarrassing moment in the show pen this year?
Oh yeah, we were at a show and ol Chew was getting down and dirty on a quick tough cow and I just about went over the front of him. I remember everyone yelling at me to get my butt in the saddle before i was in the dirt.
Photo Credit: Hart Photos
Looking towards world finals, what are you most excited about?
I’m just excited to be back there, the atmosphere and everything about being at the world finals excites me. It really makes me feel like all my hard work has finally paid off.
What do you plan to show in next year?
Next year I plan on giving the old man a break and getting my 5 yr old Hydrive Cat mare more seasoned and show her in some $1500 novice classes and maybe some ⅚ amateur and nonpro classes; so that I can hopefully get to haul her in the near future.
What are your goals for next year?
Next year I am just hoping to get to show here and there and then maybe haul the next year in the $35,000 non pro class.
Photo Credit: Ted Petit Photography