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Oklahoma Centennial Extras



 

(Editor’s note: The following profiles were written by Margaret Cordes as part of the Oklahoma Centennial show coverage.)

 

Change Is Not Easy But Can Be Good For Scooter Scheurich

 

A lot has changed for 15-year-old Scooter Scheurich. It seems that in just days the little boy, fondly nicknamed Scooter by family and customers at Cascade Stables, had grown into a tall teenager who hit the show ring for the first time out of academy last year in the five-gaited division.

         

Scooter, son of trainer Barbe Smith, has had his pick of four-legged creatures living on the grounds of Cascade Stables since he was born. From potbelly pigs to ferrets, dogs, ducks, donkeys, you name it Scooter had it. His collection even included some exotic snakes, escapees from the Audubon Zoo next door. Scooter admits he didn’t appreciate what he had even though he was the envy of most of the kids his age.

         

“I liked showing, but I didn’t like practicing,” admitted Scooter. While he confesses he did lose interest in riding, he did want to try driving a Hackney pony. That’s when Smith found Scooter the Cascade favorite Wahl Street. Poor Wally became the patient student as Scooter also thought he might enjoy “playing horse trainer.” But soon young Scooter hit the big time with a new pleasure pony named King Creole. In training with John Shea, Scooter had to get serious and he did, winning a world champion title at a young age. Next, Scooter wanted a little speed and added roadster pony Call Me Mister to his string of “students”, both still pupils of John Shea and Abel Vega.

         

Scooters loved showing again, often giving some of his Cascade friends a ride back to the barn after each victory pass. He knew how to have fun, work the show and work the crowd. In fact, Scooter was often missing minutes before his class. His mom often asked the announcer to put out a page and each time Scooter was found making friends at the exhibitor booths or at the World Champion trailer, picking out a present for his mom.

         

Scooter’s carefree childhood, however, came to screeching halt. His father suffered a stroke; Audubon Park was putting pressure on his mom to raise money to build a new barn for the city or facing losing the lease on the property, and then came Katrina.       

 

“She went through a lot,” says Scooter about his mom. “We had to fight a lot mentally and we fought through it all.” That’s when Scooter realized all he had was suddenly not there. “I realized how much I loved it and how much I missed it when I suddenly didn’t have it in my backyard. It made me want it so much more. After we moved out of the barn, living without it, I wanted it back.”

         

Scooter grew up fast. After, Katrina and after watching his mom and Cascade customers spend years of fundraising to rebuild the Cascade tradition, he was ready to help preserve his mother’s dream.

         

The new Cascade Stables was standing by last fall. Scooter helped customers put on the final touches that included varnishing the wood, painting and days of packing and unpacking. And his help has not stopped there.

         

“I have a lot to pay back and my way of helping is by showing up every day after school and doing whatever. It’s my job even though I don’t get paid for it.”

         

Scooter is so proud of his mom. “She went through a lot and she never stopped loving what she does. We have a 44 stall barn and all 44 stalls are full.” He’s also back in the show ring, showing not one, but two five-gaited horses: Slicker’s Society Man and Cash Back. Scooter doesn’t take this opportunity for granted.

         

“It’s weird to say last year at Pin Oak was my first time showing in a suit and out of academy.” Last winter, Scooter earned the top score in a World Cup Invitational competition between Team USA that included top riders from Chapters 6 and 7 and the Junior South African World Cup Team.

         

Scooter has spent his life sharing his mom with the many kids and adults at Cascade Stables. But he says that’s never been a problem for him, in fact he says he even gets in line, appreciating the same coaching in the ring.

         

“When I ride she’s tough on me. She does not treat me like a son and she doesn’t hold anything back. She’s a great mom, always looking to help everyone. She helps everyone at the shows, not just her riders. Everyone is her friend at the horse shows.”

         

Scooter’s outlook on life and his priorities have changed drastically. “I’m really close to my mom, we spend a lot of time together and we have dinner together every night. When I was little I didn’t always want to be around the horses, now she asks me questions about what I see about the horse she might be riding and we work together. She asks me if the horse’s head is in the right place and other things. I want to do anything to help.”

         

Scooter will turn 16 this summer but if given the choice of a cool sports car or the horses, there’s no choice. “I have two feet and I can walk.

         

“I want to be a horse trainer,” he said. “You know that speech everyone gives at Louisville about it their childhood dream to win stake night? I want to give that same speech… that’s my plan!”

 

Randy Cates & Cross Creek Stables


Cross Creek trainer Randy Cates has a lot to be thankful for and gives a lot of that thanks to the people who have played an important role in his life. Son of horseman Royce Cates, he’s been in the business since birth. His father was well known for his versatility in working with different breeds and promoting the horse industry.

         

Cates was just a teen when his father died.  Royce Cates who was once the trainer at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center left his son with what he considers the most valuable lesson in becoming a success in the horse industry.

         

“He told me to you have to promote this business every chance you get,” Cates said.   

         

Cates was interviewed by Horse World 12 years ago as he headed off to Kentucky to work for Merrill Murray.  He proudly told the story about the introduction of the Saddlebred to a person who has since become an important member of the industry.  

         

“I think I was 13 or 14 and I was living in California with dad. We had a lot of famous customers in L.A. The production crew from T.J. Hooker came to us and asked if they could drive a high speed chase scene in the barn aisle with the horses still in the stalls. Dad walked away, got in this old car, pulled to the end of the barn and gunned it down the hallway. Then he got out and said, ‘yeah, I guess you can.’” 

         

And according to Cates, that is how William Shatner, star of T.J. Hooker, became a Saddlebred owner. Shatner, who owned quarter horses, asked if he could bring his cutting horses to the center to ride while they were shooting. 

         

“Dad said sure and then he introduced him to Saddlebreds.”  

         

Cates told Horse World about another incident in Tennessee at Clearview Farms in Knoxville. There he said he learned not to judge customers by appearances.  

         

“This man came to the barn in a set of bib overalls.   He didn’t look like he had a nickel.  Dad showed him the horses we had for sale and he started pointing to the horses he wanted.  Then he opened the center pocket of his overalls and started pulling out one-hundred dollar bills.” 

         

Cates talked about how he was able to continue learning about horses even after his father passed away. “After dad died, I was kind of lost,” he told Horse World. “Rob Tanner was a real friend, he kept me working. Bill Field enabled me to stay in the horse business. Nobody else would hire me because I was too young.” 

         

Cates went on to work for Steve Joyce at Castle Hills Farm, Tom Moore, Dr. William Baker as a veterinary assistant where he learned about breeding and horse care and even worked for Raymond and Lillian Shively at DeLovely. Raymond had been a good friend of Cates’s father.

         

“Raymond Shively has so many sayings,” said Cates. “But his favorite was, ‘Son, you always go in the ring to win. You never know, the best one might fall down.’”

         

Cates went on to work for George Knight, Debbie Foley and Merrill Murray. “Merrill pretty much taught me everything,” said Cates. “The way I work horses is pretty much the way Merrill works things and the way Marty Mueller worked them.          

 

“Persistence was key,” Cates continued. “Both Merrill and Marty [Mueller] kept trying. Nothing is lost in trying, and if you don’t try you know it won’t pay. Marty Mueller was an influence on Merrill and Merrill was on me. I want to emulate Marty Mueller, a man who kept a professional training job through the depression, his kids still like him, he was married to only one woman and he was able to retire. He was smart enough to keep it all together and focus.”

         

Now, 12 years after that Horse World interview, Randy Cates is enjoying the successes of his growing business at Cross Creek Stables in Oklahoma City.  

         

Cates arrived in Oklahoma City shortly after trainer Peggy Richardson’s death.  He was on his way back from his mother’s funeral in California when Dana DeVoss invited him to stop for an interview.  DeVoss, a trainer for Peggy Richardson, needed help after Richardson passed away.  Cates never expected to stay very long or even make Oklahoma his home.

         

“I pictured myself in Tennessee but the old barn reminded me of the barns in Kentucky.”

         

When Cates first arrive at Peggy Richardson Stables there was so much to do even before putting customers on horses.  “So much had been put on hold because Peggy was sick, a lot of kids were ready to come out of the lesson program to a show horse.”           

The barn needed desperate work and there was a good group of customers hungry for opportunity.  Dana DeVoss moved on a few months later and Cates found himself in the thick of Peggy Richardson Stables. 

         

“Oklahoma has been like Gilligan’s Island; a four hour tour and you end up spending seven seasons,” Cates said. “These people have been good to me.”

         

Since then Cates has purchased a portion of the property from the Peggy Richardson Trust including the barn and an old farmhouse. He married his longtime friend and girlfriend who was in Kentucky finishing law school.  Now the two, are well into rebuilding a business Cates has since renamed Cross Creek Stables.  

         

“It’s the longest surviving Saddlebred barn in the area, built in 1963 and once home for trainer Harold Adams,” said Cates. “The farm has survived tornados to even a barn fire. It’s a good place and the people are good and they like good horses. They go out of their way to buy a good horse.”

         

Horses that include The Bachelor Prince, Callaway’s Independence Day, Vegas Deams, The Champagne Tiger, equitation stars Heir To The Throne and Fame’s Preferential Treatment and That’s Chicago, just to name a few. 

         

Dianna Rannels may be the best testament to Cates’s past, present and future successes. She arrived a week before the Oklahoma Centennial Horse Show to spend some time with Cates and his staff at Cross Creek.  The two go way back.

         

“I like to tell Randy I knew him before there was even Randy Cates, because I knew his dad who was a good horseman of his era and a great promoter,” explained Rannells.  The two also worked together at George Knight’s Stable. “Randy’s enthusiasm is infectious, his ability to have other people enjoy it as much as he does is incredible. He is a student of bloodlines and wants to be a good caretaker and from what I’ve seen when he’s on his own, he picks a nice horse.”

         

Rannells says she’s very impressed with Cates’s facility and the Cross Creek family. “Everyone is having such a good time and everyone from every stage is coming on from the very beginners on up to the world champion riders, all in one place, all supporting one another. It’s a great place to be. I am enjoying Cross Creek Stable especially. The future of our business is in the new young riders and to see this type of an operation with so much going on is a plus.”

         

Oklahoma City, now home for Cates and Cross Creek Stables, is his future, and keeping good perspective is key to him. “If you want to be successful you have to keep an eye on the whole package.            

“My dad taught me about marketing a horse, interacting with people. Merrill Murray, Rob Tanner and George Knight get credit for everything else. I want to be able to work long enough to get old enough to watch the fences fall back down.”

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