Know the pro 5/22
KNOW THE PRO
NRCHA Stockhorse News May/June 2022
Interview by Katie Frank
Matt Frederick uses experience he gained starting colts, day working and working for reined cow horse trainers to develop his own solid training program.
To be honest, Matt Frederick didn’t have a chance. The young colt starter went to Nampa, Idaho, to watch a reined cow horse derby, and he saw legendary riders Jon Roeser, Anne Reynolds and Jake Telford ride in back- to-back draws.
Frederick was more hooked than Metallic Cat. “It was a really good set of horses, and I thought to myself, ‘My good- ness, I’ve never seen anything like that!’ ” said Frederick, who grew up in Emmett, Idaho, riding horses for the public. After graduation, he helped start colts for horseman Jeff Spencer in Eagle, Idaho.
“Jeff spent a lot of time around Ray Hunt,” he said. “The best thing I got while there was we had horses of all ages, breeds and backgrounds. We were always trying to figure out a way to get those horses to want to do what we wanted them to do. Most of the time that was how to be a good riding horse that anybody could get on.”
After that impressionable cow horse show in Nampa, Frederick went to South Dakota to work for reined cow horse trainer Kirk Hall. It was Frederick’s opportunity to step into the show pen for the first time.
“I’m that kind of guy who can be a little too self-conscious about things,”
Matt Frederick has shown in affiliate NRCHA events as well as earned champion division titles at the NRCHA Stallion Stakes. he said. “Having a little push from Kirk to say, ‘Hey, you’ll be all right. Just go do it.’ He knew what I could do and the horse could do. It was a good thing for me to build confidence.”
One of Frederick’s friends then introduced him to Wagonhound Land & Livestock Co. head trainer at the time, Matt Koch, in Wyoming. What hap- pened next would enlighten Frederick about the ins-and-outs of the highly competitive reined cow horse industry.
“I rode 2-year-olds for Koch for two years,” he explained. “Matt has had the most influence on me out of anybody.
I learned a lot from him, and I think working for him was probably the best thing I ever did for myself. I learned a lot about horses, but also what it takes to be serious about being a trainer. I grew up working hard, but at Matt’s, it was different.”
Frederick later spent nearly a year cowboying on the Spanish Ranch in northern Nevada, where he learned more about reading cattle and riding green horses.
“Working at the Spanish Ranch helped me show more than anything,” he said. “Most ranches that have company horses, they’re typically not very much fun to ride. Sometimes the horse might not get rode for an entire year depending on who’s on the crew. When you catch your horse for the day, some- times that horse may not be the most broke or gentle, but you have to go do a job on it. You have to figure out how to be on that particular horse, to where it doesn’t get upset and bronc you down.
“I think it kind of applies to showing because, you know, a lot of times those horses don’t feel perfect when you’re showing. You must be smooth and just get the job done.”
Frederick admits that while being a buckaroo on the Spanish Ranch was the ultimate dream job, he “couldn’t get training out of my mind.” After another short stint at Wagonhound, Frederick struck out on his own in his home state of Idaho. Then, took advantage of spending another year with Koch before focusing on his own program. He now lives in Marsing, Idaho, with his wife, Chelsea.
In the arena, Frederick has had suc- cess with several horses, accumulat- ing lifetime earnings of $51,644.63. He’s been astride talented horses such as Smooth Dera Max (Smooth As A Cat x Dera Dually x Dual Pep) and Rebelicious (Metallic Rebel x Katniss x Dual Rey).
Frederick and his wife own two of their own horses: Forge A Cat (Meteles Cat x Mamas Dryvin Cats x Hydrive Cat) and Hal Reysin Cat (Hal Of A Run x Little TR Rey x TR Dual Rey).
“[Hal Reysin Cat] was eligible for the High Plains Ranchers and Breeders Association Futurity in Amarillo,” he said. “We took her to that and won it. I think she ended up winning about $12,000 last year, which was kind of a neat deal.”
Q & A
Reined Cow Horse News: What draws you to the reined cow horse?
Matt Frederick: I think for me, it’s the challenge of it all. When you’re working on a ranch, you ride horses that aren’t very broke, and you sometimes have to pen a cow on some- thing that rides like a nightmare. When I finally got to ride a horse that could work, it changed my life.
I love the challenge of trying to make a horse as good as possible and riding good horses that are so talented and fun to ride. I’m still amazed at what some horses can do. It’s really neat to see horses progress from the time that you start them up to the time that you show them. It’s neat trying to make the horse as broke as he can [be] and having him be able to do a tough job and be happy about it.
RCHN: What’s a misconception about training and starting horses?
MF: One thing I ran into with riding average horses for the public is that they’re scared to start horses when they’re too young. They want to wait until they’re 1,000 pounds and giant. But I think a lot [of]it is an old way of thinking, that you don’t want to ride a
young horse because it’s not physically mature and you can hurt or cripple it.
But when you start a horse as a 2-year-old, you don’t have to ride the hair off. You can spend 15 to 20 minutes on it and put it away. And in six months, those horses are pretty dang broke. I think some people are cautious about sending colts off because they think the show horse guys are too hard or rush things. I don’t feel like that’s the case. I think whether you’re at the very top of the game or getting started, every- body wants to make a nice horse. And if the trainers have any sense at all, they’re going do what’s best for the horse.
RCHN: What’s your go-to piece of equipment?
MF: You know, honestly 90 percent of everything I do is in a regular snaffle. I’ve tried using martingales and stuff here and there, and in my experience, I don’t really think it helps.
The ones we use day today are Dennis Mooreland, and then I’ve got a couple of snaffles that Preston Williams made that I’ll show in. I also have one that Wade Rainey made that I show in, and I really like that one as well.