In my career, I have many perks. One of them includes the opportunity to interview people in the horse industry. People who making a difference. People who are famous. People who are exciting. And people who are just amazing with horses. In April 2008, I had the opportunity to visit Pieper Ranch in Marietta, Oklahoma. Pieper Ranch is home to the legendary Playgun and both Dick and Brenda are legendary breeders, riders and owners in the western performance industry. Here is the interview that resulted from that visit:
Q. Brenda, you are originally from Canada. When did you move to the States?
BP – I was born in Kitchener, Ontario. Dick was born in Ohio. I met him for the first time when he came to Ontario to compete in an AQHA show we were hosting. He was showing a horse named Mr Jim 45. It was a real boost for the reining industry in the province of Ontario. In that day, Mr Jim 45 was a really good reining horse. It was also a difficult era to make a living showing horses.
A couple of years later, Dick took a job with some folks around the Toronto area. He helped a lot of people. I knew him as a friend for 14 years before we ever were involved. We started seeing each other in 1986 and Dick was president of the National Reining Horse Association at the time. He had been since 1983 – the first year the NRHA Futurity paid $100,000 to the winner, when it was still held in Columbus, Ohio. 1986 was the first year the NRHA Futurity was held in Oklahoma City, so it meant we had to come to Oklahoma. Bob Loomis had moved here (Marietta) the prior year. He told us, \”Bring your horses early to my place and that will make it handy to run back and forth.\” We packed up four trailers, moved into Bob\’s barn and went to work. We first arrived late in the evening and when we drove out in the morning from our hotel in Ardmore, I remember how beautiful it was down here. I loved it! We were able to purchase the ranch we live on today, in March of 1987.
Q. Both you and Dick have expressed that Playgun is the ideal horse to move the Pieper breeding operation into the future. You knew this from the moment you spotted him too. How could you both be so sure at the time?
BP – Looking at his conformation, you can see Playgun\’s balance up close and from far away – it just hits you in the face. Dick and I are so fortunate that our eyes see the same things on a horse. I can\’t think of one horse in 21 years that we didn\’t agree on completely. Both of us had a very strong gut feeling when we looked at Playgun and got that \”Wow!\” feeling, as soon as we looked at him. His breeding is impeccable and his show and produce record have lived up to what his conformation and pedigree promised.
Q. Have you come across your ultimate broodmare yet?
BP – Oh lots of them! Many are our own and many are other peoples\’ mares. There are many I look at that his me like Playgun did. Nearly all of our mares are like peas-in-a-pod. They\’re similar to Playgun. They may be different sizes, but they all hold the same balance. It you apply that principle (breeding like-to-like) to your breeding program, your offspring are going to be very consistent as well.
What you can\’t do is try to offset a flaw in one parent by going to the opposite extreme in the other. The best chance at consistency in the offspring is breeding like-to-like.
Q. Is there a horse from history you would like to ride?
BP – Many. But one that Dick and I both would like to ride is Miss Silver Pistol. She was so expressive, busy and frantic on a cow. Boy, it would be fun to try her out with today\’s methodical approach to working a cow, with the Ferrari engine she had, speed expressiveness and big stop. Today\’s cutters have to run and stop a cow more than they used to. Miss Silver Pistol always had the cow mesmerized in the center of the pen. It would be so cool to see if you could train that mare with today\’s methods (end to end without letting her cow up so much), and having to show on today\’s cattle – how great she would be now. Having had the opportunity to have that mare here at one point, studying her conformation and balance, I know she had all the great parts to be competitive today also.
Q. What has held your passion for the horse industry all these years?
BP – The pure, pure love of horses. We love the way they smell. Brushing them. Turning them out. The learning curve into cutting has kept our passion for the industry. Playgun has become the catalyst for our success in that industry. To have met all the people we have met, training, the pursuit of being able to do this event: Dick always had the passion, but Playgun was the ticket in. That horse made the relationships for us. He helped us meet the people.
Q. If you could sip coffee with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
BP – I think it would be anyone who really loves horses. To talk and discuss and analyze horses. There\’s such a huge list of people who like to do this! You get to Fort Worth and the person you look forward to sitting beside is the person you can do this with. Dick says he would love to be able to visit with Don Dodge for the same reason.