Cutting Edge Production
For Mary Beller it was a desire to reach out and grow that led her to the show arena.
“This was an opportunity for me to get out and do something on my own,” said Mary, owner of Rafter B Cutting Horses in Cabool. “But Robert is my support; I couldn’t do this without him!”
Mary and her family moved to Cabool, Mo., from California when she was a high school junior. Here she met Robert Beller and the high school sweethearts married soon after graduation in 1979. In 1982 Robert went into the Navy and the couple moved as his station changed. Robert left the Navy after five years and the family, now with the addition of daughter Alysha and son Jason, moved back to Cabool. For the next few years Robert owned a small engine shop and worked for a local construction company. Mary worked for a local propane company when in 1994 she and Robert partnered with her boss to buy Hunter Oil Co. The partner has since passed away, leaving Robert and Mary to run the business themselves.
It was almost five years ago when Robert was in Texas on a business trip that he came home with a yearling, a reining mare named Senoritas A Star, also known as Dolly. “I knew I wanted to do either reining or cutting; cutting just seemed more fun,” Mary said. She took the mare to cutting horse trainer Michael Cooper in Summersville, Mo., and soon began taking lessons herself. She soon began showing in weekend shows and then aged event shows. Mary has since picked up a second trainer, Craig Thompson of Buffalo, Tx.
Mary travels to about 20 shows all over the U.S. each year. She has gone to the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio; placed Reserve in the four-year-old amateur division in Las Vegas, NV and was a finalist in the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity in Fort Worth, Tx., in 2006. Mary travels in her own truck and trailer with her Boxer, Juno. “Craig was showing at a weekend show in Texas and he said ‘just fly down and show,’” Mary recalled. “I thought, ‘ugh that means I’ll have to pack a bag and can’t take my dog.’ It’d rather take the truck!” It’s also easier for Mary to take the office with her in the truck. Even when she is on the road she is in charge of payroll for Hunter Oil and with her laptop she’s able to get online with the company and help out as needed.
The cutting horse circuit is an expensive world to break into. Mary says it was financially hard starting out, but feels she has begun to balance out now. She has been showing in the ‘limited non-pro, which means her earnings are under $100,000. “My mare has been good to me this year. She’s taken me to the finals most of the time, so my earnings are balancing with my costs. My goal now is to prove my broodmares and get babies on the ground,” Mary said.
“Colts from mares that have won money are called ‘black type,'” Robert explained. “This business is too expensive to use non-proven horses.” By using embryo transfer Mary got three foals out of her favorite mare, Marka Shorty this year.
Mary recently began to feed MFA’s Legend line of feeds, but also uses Purina Strategy because it is readily found across the country.
In addition to regular vaccinations, worming and annual Coggins tests, Mary uses an equine chiropractor to keep her horses in top condition. “You can tell a difference when your horse is stiff, after the chiropractor has seen them they move much quicker and smoother.”
The Bellers have a few pieces of advice for anyone thinking of showing cutting horses.
“Buy the best you can afford. Find a good trainer, one you can trust and who can build your confidence in yourself.” Mary added that a trainer once told her that “older horses build our confidence; we’re there to build the confidence of the younger horses.” That's good advice that could be applied to many aspects of life.