|Seventy Year-Old Dr. Tommy Thomas Headed to Ninth Select World|
|Laura Kathryn Gilmer, GoHorseShow.com|
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Like a fine wine, Super Select Dr. Tommy Thomas of College, Station, Texas, gets better with time. He has been to every Select World Show since its inception nine years ago. This year, Dr. Thomas plans to show veteran champion, Confirmed Legacy (Bubba), in the Trail, Horsemanship, and Western Riding for the fourth straight year.
Dr. Thomas, who will turn 71 years old on September 1st, was the Super Select High Point Amateur at this year's Sun Circuit in Scottsdale, Arizona. Thomas, a longtime client of Nancy Cahill and Michelle Tidwell, started showing horses soon after his daughter, Shannon, went to college. So far, his highest placing at the Select World was in 2004 when he was fourth in the Horsemanship with his black gelding, Eyes of Texas Flash.
"The formation of the Select World Show encouraged me to start showing. It is amazing to see how the show has changed since the beginning. It has gotten so much tougher, and I enjoy the challenge," Thomas tells GoHorseShow. "It is great to see the entries increase over the years. I'm not as competitive as I used to be, but I enjoy the camaraderie. I am fortunate to be able to still ride and throw my leg over a good horse."
Dr. Thomas has led an amazing life. Born in San Diego to a military family, he fell in love with horses from an early age and his parents purchased his first horse, a Morgan/Quarter cross for one hundred dollars. During his teenage years, he worked as a groom for some of the top trainers on the West Coast including Jimmy Williams, Ronnie Richards, and Mac McHugh. Some of his amazing accomplishments include attending veterinarian school at Kansas State; joining the Air Force; doing a tour in Vietnam; teaching school at Texas A&M and Kansas State, becoming an official vet for the 1984 Olympics, and eventually working for the USDA before retiring.
Thomas said he has stayed involved in the horse industry because of the diversity. "When I went all over the country on different military assignments, I could always meet horse people that I could relate to and were friendly regardless if they were involved with racing, cutting, or another discipline. Horse people are the same wherever you go. I've been a rider, parent, and a vet, so I have enjoyed being involved in all aspects of the industry."
Michelle Tidwell and Nancy Cahill each mention that Dr. Thomas is a very generous person and always goes the extra mile to help people. He also enjoys getting up at 4 am, so Tidwell and Cahill have designated him as the morning feeder at the horse shows. Tidwell and Cahill are both appreciative of the extra sleep in the mornings.
"Dr. Tommy also has what I call, 'Merlot Hour' at the horse shows," Cahill says. "He makes sure to pack up and bring his wine with him. After five o' clock, he enjoys inviting everyone over to socialize and have some fun and drink some wine. He is definitely a lot of fun and one-of-a-kind."
Tidwell also talks about his generosity regarding sharing his horses.
"Dr. Tommy has loaned some of his horses to Novice riders to show. He also is very involved with letting the Texas A&M Equestrian team use his two horses for the team tournaments. He also has donated his horses for the Youth World Cup Teams when the events have been held in Oklahoma City and Amarillo. He loves to help out anyway he can."
His 20 year-old black gelding, Eyes of Texas Flash (Flash) and Confirmed Legacy (Bubba) have been used for both of these events. Confirmed Legacy was named the 2010 Favorite Horsemanship Horse at the Equestrian National Championships. Flash has been used the past 14 years for both NCAA and IHSA tournaments, and Bubba was also the silver medal winner in the Trail with the New Zealand team during the Youth World Cup that was held in Oklahoma City.
"I love to share my horses with world class riders and see them look like a million dollars. Of course, everyone always gives me a hard time when my horses don't look as good with me," Dr. Thomas says and laughs.
Dr. Thomas comments that without the support of his wife, Karen, his daughters and the "Cahill Connection", he could not have fulfilled his quest to become a better horseman. "Both Bubba and me are in our twilight years. I've done a lot in my life and Bubba has over 1800 points in different events with several owners. I think he is a perfect horse for me in this stage of my show career, and I plan on us both finishing out our careers together, and then ride off in the sunset."
We wish him nothing but the very best.