Vernie Reed: Horseman
ATimes Staff Feature He has the sun and wind worn face of a cowboy. He wears a large hat and a bandana around his neck to wipe the sweat. His long sleeved shirt helps to keep the sun and bugs off and the boots and spurs complete the outfit.
Vernie Reed retired from the West Memphis Fire Department in 1989 and went on to pursue his passion – horse training – which began at Wilson Farms in Wilson, Arkansas.
Vernie rode for years before he advanced to the technique he now uses.
“I’ve learned to ‘ask’ the horse and not to bully the horse into doing what I want him to do,” he said.
“What you do is make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.”
Vernie hasn’t gone without his personal injures while working with a horse. He was tossing a rope around a horse he was training and “the horse jumped left when I dropped my rope off to the right. He jumped into my left spur and then jumped back to the right.
Somewhere in that hustle, I fell off and broke my arm.”
Tuesday afternoon, Vernie put my new, old mare through her paces. He patiently worked her from the ground teaching her to step over with her front feet, back and turn on the forehand. He hit the ground with his training stick and string until she would quit moving. The reward was when she stood still, he quit smacking the ground. Taking time between sessions to praise her when she did good and give her a nice pat. He also got on and off the horse on either side to ‘balance her.’ These techniques can be seen by many trainers on RFD-TV which isn’t on my cable company’s listings. Boo to them!
Vernie has a fully equipped truck. He built a sliding rack that pulls out onto his tailgate and carries his saddle and other equipment so it will be readily at hand when he needs it.
“I’ve changed equipment over time and now have a much lighter saddle and easier bits than I once used,” said Vernie. “I like to use my own equipment including a halter that has the pressure knots. It makes it a lot easier to handle a horse when you can keep their attention.”
Vernie is a family man. He has a wife of 53 years, Myra and four children (three boys and one girl) and seven grandchildren (five boys and two girls).
“We met in school. I was a year older her and when she graduated, we got married.”
He is a member of the Three Trees Cowboy Church in Wynne. He enjoys
the music and the casual atmosphere there, but mostly he enjoys the preaching and was going to Bible Study the night he worked my horse. He is quick to invite you to visit his church. I know many people who attend there because
at one time or another I have shown horses
with them. Vernie learned way back that his services were worth something and now teaches people how to handle their own horses while still doing some individual training. Vernie knows it is as much about teaching the owner as the horse and over the years has developed a easier approach to the owners also.
I’ve known Vernie for many years and he is a man of character. My brother-inlaw and Vernie were firemen at the same time. My husband even used Vernie’s picture for the cover of one of his books. He always has a kind word for people, is soft spoken and well liked in our area. The horses he works with recognize his ability and respond in kind.
Everyone needs to know a Vernie Reed in their life and if you don’t know him you should.
By Joy Hall