Joan Schroeder: One Act of Kindness Goes Full Circle
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2010 Congress Masters winner, A Slow Burn, would never have been born had it not been for one act of kindness in 1986. Photo © Jeff Kirkbride
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Joan and Robbie Schroeder are legendary trainers and breeders and the history of their great stallion Blazing Hot is well documented. However, many may not know that one act of kindness dating back to the late 1980's has had a profound effect on the Quarter Horse industry, and today it has been brought back around full circle. 

Robbie and Joan didn't have much as far as money and material possessions when they started off in the horse industry. Nevertheless, it is extraordinary how the Schroeder's success can be traced back to one sickly foal, Tahnee Zippo.

Tahnee Zippo, was born on February 1, 1986 in Indiana.  When she was four days old, her mother, Toshi, was shipped back to Valley View, Texas to be bred back to Zippo Pine Bar. The four day old filly on Toshi's side caught pneumonia and had to be given oxygen everyday--probably caused by stress, and being born in February when it was cold made her more susceptible to getting sick.

Long time breeders Jean and Bob Wolf of Michigan owned Toshi and the ailing filly, Tahnee Zippo. Joan Schroeder was working for Bob and Ann Perry who owned Zippo Pine Bar and Joan stayed up every night with the sick filly and gave her oxygen and took care of her around the clock until she got better. According to Joan, the foal recovered and was back to normal after 30 days. The Wolf’s showed their appreciation to Joan for spending so much time caring for their foal by giving her half ownership of the well-bred, pretty bay filly.

Joan was also given the opportunity to train and show her. “I believe this mare (Tahnee Zippo) was the best Western Pleasure 2 Year-old I had seen up to this point, but unfortunately, she slipped and fell into a fence and strained the ligaments in her hips, and she was never shown,” Joan recalls. “But I really believe things happen for a reason. We never showed her, and she ended up being the first Zippo Pine Bar daughter that was bred to Hotrodders Jet Set. Who knows what would have happened if we showed her. We probably would have sold her and none of the major accolades that came our way would have ever happened."

Tahnee Zippo's first offspring was Hot N Spicy Me which won the 1993 Two Year-Old Snaffle Bit Futurity at the Congress under all five judges with Keith Whistle aboard. In 1994, Whistle came back on another Tahnee Zippo foal who just happened to be named, Blazing Hot. He won the 2 Year-Old Snaffle Bit at the Congress again with this colt and then Joan came back the next year and won the Congress in the Three Year-Old Open and Limited Three Year Old Snaffle Bit Futurity.  

In 1994, during the Congress, the Schroeder’s bought out the Wolf’s fifty percent of Blazing Hot by giving up their fifty percent share of his dam, Tahnee Zippo, and his younger sister, Prettiest Jet Yet, plus a hefty amount of money. This was definitely a nerve-wracking decision for a couple of horse trainers in their mid thirties! Two years later, Blazing Hot’s wins at the 1996 AQHA World Show in the Junior Western Pleasure with Joan showing and Junior Western Riding with Robbie showing, put the stallion in the record books. Blazing Hot is the only horse to win those two titles in the same year, let alone the same day, at the AQHA World Show.

Since then, Blazing Hot's offspring have earnings in excess of $2.5 Million. Blaze has sired Champions in every major futurity including two horses that won $100,000 at the Reichert Celebration, and, recently, sired the 2010 Congress Masters Champion, A Slow Burn who is out of Born Lopin.

While Schroeder had some amazing luck and instincts about Tahnee Zippo and her offspring, she also appears to have a special talent for finding exceptional trainers to ride her horses. Earlier this year, Katy Jo Pickard came to the Schroeder's to pick out a prospect for the Masters. When Pickard got to the farm, the Schroeders were not there, and she immediately spotted a fancy bay stallion loping quietly on a walker. Katy Jo immediately fell in love with this colt who could lope as slow as the other horses jog. Little did she know that this stud colt was by Blazing Hot and out of Born Lopin. Born Lopin is one of the greatest producing daughters of Zippo Pine Bar and is the dam of such greats as the 2004 AQHA Two Year Old Western Pleasure World Champion, Born To Be Blazing and NSBA Horse of the Year, Hot Lopin Louise.

“I basically begged Joan to let me buy half of him,” says Katy Jo, who also picked out Sure Am Hot, at the Schroeder's before she went on to win the $100,000 at the Reichert Celebration on him in 2008. “We kept going back and forth and finally came up with a price. Joan and Robbie are like a second family to me, and I was very fortunate that they believed in me despite me going through a divorce. Dwayne (her ex-husband) and I are still good friends, but we just grew apart. It is a huge adjustment doing everything myself these days. We each used to have our own jobs, but now I have to take care of the brakes, order the hay and grain, and I am beginning to learn to be a better manager of my time. It is hard to readjust but everyone around me has been very supportive.”

Pickard continues, “I also got to choose a horse to keep in the divorce, and I decided to keep Burnie which was a huge gamble because at the time, he was green broke and his head was still stuck straight up in the air. But, luckily so far, it appears to have paid off.”

The one decision Joan and Katy Jo did discuss over a couple of margaritas one night was to change the colt’s name from RS Born Blazed to A Slow Burn (Burnie). “We both believed that he deserved a better name. He is such a beautiful stud and he's genetically outstanding. I also had a safe and secure feeling about him,” Pickard said. “I never doubted him even when he was going through some rough stages. I had to train him on the road which was a little bit more difficult because everyone else got to see him when he wasn’t at his best. He finally turned a corner around the last couple of days at the NSBA World Show, and I felt he was ready to show by the middle of September.”

Schroeder adds,”We knew what we had, but we also knew we needed the pilot and we trusted Katy Jo completely. She is very talented and obviously gets along with Blazing Hot prospects. She took him in April, and the next time I saw him was at the Reichert, and I liked what I saw. I never doubted my decision, even though I knew Katy Jo was going through a divorce and a tough time. Like many people, the love of horses help people survive--it's what people live for--their passion. I knew that the tough times she was having would not change her devotion and desire to do the best job possible.”

Pickard and the Schroeders have had a little luck along the way, but they all seem to have impeccable instincts combined with the background and knowledge to know how to produce high quality prospects and put them in the right hands to enter the winner’s circle year after year. They are looking forward to seeing A Slow Burn show in Oklahoma City at the AQHA World Show in the Two Year-Old Snaffle Bit Futurity. A Slow Burn has a yearling full sister who sells on November 18 in the World Show Salebration

“There are people interested in buying Burnie,” Schroeder says. “But we haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk to Katy Jo yet to decide on a price.” On the other hand, Katy Jo seemed a little reluctant about selling him just yet. “He is my friend, and I think he is so good minded. He loves his job, and I would really like the opportunity to show him his three year-old year too. However, we are all horsemen, and we will always have each other’s back, so we will make the best decision for everyone involved.”

The initial kindness that Joan showed that sickly foal, Tahnee Zippo, led to the Wolf's being generous to Joan and giving her half ownership of the mare-- to finally, Joan believing in Katy Jo during a difficult time, and letting her buy 50 percent of A Slow Burn. "When you pay it forward and show someone kindness, you are really the one in the end that receives the gift," Joan explains. "Everything goes full circle. I believe everything happens for a reason, and it is amazing that one act of kindness can drastically change a person's life for the better."

Masters pictures courtesy The American Quarter Horse Journal. 

2 comments for this article Reverse Comment Order
Added: November 02, 2010. 08:28 AM CDT
Nicely done!
There are so many times that kindness is forgotten or never repaid. I'm sure Joan could never haven known how her time with that filly paid off. It's heart warming when "what goes around comes around." To my hard working daughter...I'm grateful that Joan recognizes your talent, dedication, work ethic & your passion for great horses - that in spite of this year's setbacks, she still beleived in you. She knows what few people take the time to find out....the same stuff I've had the pleasure of knowing for many years.
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Added: November 01, 2010. 07:51 PM CDT
Great story
What a great story. Wishing you continued success.
Cowgirl K.
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