Beau Galyean’s legacy in the horse business and his decision to make a significant detour has been a microcosm of life.
When your grandfather Kenneth, your dad Jody, your brother Wes and your uncle Gil are horse trainers, it seems inevitable that you also will follow right along. Not!!!
He was just a lad when his dad started putting him to work on the ranch, but Beau wanted to play golf. He dreamed of qualifying for one of the sport’s major events, the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. Starting with the summer of his 10th year, Galyean drifted toward playing golf with his maternal grandfather, Travis Bruce, who had a soft spot in his heart for his grandson and taught him discipline and how to focus.
At age 15, Galyean qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur. He was the No. 1 golfer on two Oklahoma state championship teams and one reserve champion, earning a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas.
“I didn’t crave a lot of discipline as an 18-year-old kid,” Galyean said in a February 2008 Quarter Horse News article. “I didn’t know that wasn’t the best thing for me.”
His first coach was a firm believer that, “If you want to do it, you’ll do it.” Later, a firm disciplinarian, who was exactly the opposite, became his coach.
“These coaches, instead of encouraging me, they pushed me to the extreme,” he said. “When something would go bad, they would still be extreme. That just burned me out.”
By his senior year, just a semester short of earning his college degree, he came home. He was fed up with golf, uncertain about his future, so he occupied his thoughts by helping Jody.
“I didn’t have anything but ranch work,” he said. “All of a sudden, a burden was lifted off of me. I was really eating it up and enjoying it. All of a sudden, this was what I wanted to do.”
He knew for sure when he saw Chiquita Pistol and Tag Rice complete their NCHA Triple Crown run at the 2003 Derby.
Galyean wasted no time in making an impact in cutting.
At the 2004 Futurity, he was the Non-Pro Reserve Champion on Highlightcat ($46,051) and Limited Non- Pro Champion on Double Down Merada ($7,897), earn- ing a total of $60,923 for the year. In 2005, he was 4-year-old Non-Pro Reserve Champion on Highlightcat at the South Point Fall Futurity and placed Shesa Lil Moonlight 21st and Sweeties Wild Child 24th in the NCHA Futurity Non-Pro. He earned $91,214 in 2005.
Then in 2006, while riding Myles From Nowhere, he was Non-Pro Reserve Champion ($47,444) and tied for sixth in the Open $90,564) at the NCHA Futurity while earning $248,690 for the year. Galyean captured the Abilene Spectacular Derby Non-Pro on Myles From Nowhere and the NCHA Super Stakes Non-Pro and Breeder’s Invitational on Spyder in 2007 (total earnings of $203,725).
Galyean’s decision to turn professional was hastened by an injury in mid-2008 to Tassa Cat (High Brow Cat x Smart Little Tassa x Smart Little Lena), the geld- ing he rode to 4-year-old Non-Pro titles at the Abilene Spectacular and the Tunica Futurity and to the Super Stakes Non-Pro finals.
“It was on my mind, so I decided at no particular time,” Galyean said. “When Tassa Cat got injured, through the summer I kinda was looking at [the fact] I had only one or two horses to show. I did it right after the [NCHA] Derby. I decided to go pro to keep up my motivation.”
Taking his dad’s advice, he applied for an apprentice’s card, much like his brother had done earlier to keep showing Spots Hot in the Open, so he could return to the Non-Pro if things didn’t work to his satisfaction. However, even before the Futurity, Galyean felt like he was committed to the Open for life.
“It’s probably been one of the better decisions of my life,” Galyean said prior to the Futurity. “I feel better men- tally. I have a smile on my face and I look forward to going to work each day. It feels awesome.
“I’ve been able to sell a couple of horses a little bit easier when you can keep them and ride them. It’s so much harder [as a non-pro] to push your product on someone. When you are a non-pro, you have a trainer sell your horse for you.
“I’ve always had to look at $20,000 and $30,000 horses. Now, I look at a horse that’s two or three times that much. You can find a horse that fits you. You’re fortunate to find people that want to buy a horse that expensive.”
Metallic Cat was priced at $55,000, and although Galyean said he would rather not reveal the purchase price, he had to use his 2007 Chevy dually as collateral to purchase the stallion, which he later sold to Alvin and Becky Fults, Amarillo, Texas.
“It really was hard for me,” Galyean said. “I didn’t ride for 10 years. When I came back, I studied a lot of film and I rode all day, every day. When everyone was done, I would keep on riding. I can’t tell you how many times I would get my horses doing good and then I’d see some- thing different and trying to do that. I’d mess up my horse. I went through so many ups and downs, trying to figure out what works for me.”
He admitted disagreeing with his dad at times, but their relationship is so familiar to many parents. Now, despite watching tons of film and learning in bits and pieces from other top trainers, he said his dad has been his greatest influence.
“Just his presence, his advice throughout time,” he said. “There’s no one thing people can tell you. His time and patience to work with his kids. He really takes time to help if you want it. I guess you don’t think about things [the legacy] at the time. The main thing is you listen to those people. You try to take advantage of what they know and use it some way. That’s the greatest thing, hav- ing them to call on for advice. That’s pretty priceless.”
Jody Galyean said he feels golf helped Beau prepare for cutting competition.
“Of course it helped him,” he said. “It prepared him for the mental pressure. Being an athlete with quick reflexes helps in any sport. You have to think and react quickly in any sport.
“Beau did most of the work himself. It was just the talk- ing and thoughts about the mental approach, ideas we all talk about as trainers. Beau is good at getting ideas from everyone, taking it all in and evaluating it.”
“It’s a tough life, but a great life,” Jody said. “When there’s something you want to do, have a passion for it, and you have dreams, you need to go for it. If you don’t, you’ll always regret it.”
Kenneth Galyean said, “He had a lot of ability to play golf. I think that has helped him handle the pressure. When you go to the finals of the Futurity, that helps a lot. You have to work under pressure. After just five years of coming back, you step in and become a winner. I give Jody a lot of credit for the way these boys and this horse have turned out. Jody is a super horseman. He understands horses, how to get a horse in shape and turn around.
“As a grandfather, I’m proud of the whole family. We all get along. There’s no fussing. To have a family where there is no turmoil is really something. We are fortunate to do what we do and make a living doing what we enjoy.”
While he previously was comparing himself to leading golfers and dreaming of Augusta, Beau Galyean changed his plumb line to the top trainers in the cutting horse industry, people who have won major aged events.
When he decided to become a professional trainer, he said, “I have to catch them. Right now, time is not on my side, but I’m doing what I can.”
“I’ve got a lot of big goals and I’ve got to get on with it,” Galyean said. “I think about my first coach in college and what he said, ‘If you want it, you’ll start working for it.’ Now, I know he’s right.
“Golf will show you adversity. Golf is so close to life, so difficult with its ups and downs. If you can handle the ups and downs, you can handle life pretty well.”
Galyean said it’s a tough, tough game training and showing cutting horses.
“With golf, when you’ve got your swing, you’ve got your swing. It doesn’t change. With cutting, you can be riding a great horse one year and a bad one the next. Every horse is different and there are a ton of variables.
“If there’s a manual [to train horses], I didn’t get to skip to the middle of the book. I’m just a quarter of the way through so far. I’m so far from where I want to be.” —REE