Vickie Wyman has been involved with Quarter Horses and racing for four decades
Vickie Wyman is a one-person racing Quarter Horse farm manager. Count Your Gold Farm in Sallisaw, Okla., hired her four years ago to manage this breeding/recovery facility for Ken and Reba George who live most of the time in their other home in Caney, Kan. Ken and Reva own printing and trucking companies with horse racing being a beloved sideline.
“I’ve been in the race horse business 40 years and wouldn’t want to do anything else,” Vickie said.
Most of Vickie’s time has been spent in Sallisaw. The Sallisaw track opened in the 1950s for match raises and went non-pari-mutuel when she started there in 1977. She worked for trainers, trained on her own and ponied racehorses to the starting gate. One horse she used for ponying was Sleeping Potion, known for lots of personality and tricks, including untying himself and any other horse around him. When retired, the red roan purposely knocked down a ladder while Vickie’s father was working on the roof repairing storm damage and left him stranded there.
Now Vickie’s days are full of different activities. The first thing she does in the morning is care for her own five mares, including VW Lucky Advice, better known as Breezy who won five races before becoming a broodmare. Vickie has a pasture on the farm where she keeps her weanlings. All she has to do is step inside, and the usually pregnant mares come running for a dose of love.
“Breezy lost her first foal soon after birth. Babies can crash fast, but she is a good horse and I will breed her again in February,” Vickie said.
Dashir is the stud Breezy is booked to when she is bred again. Her full sister, Leapingluckadvice, so named because she was born on Leap Year Day, won one race before becoming a barrel racer for Tori Edwards, Vicki’s granddaughter.
Count Your Gold Farm currently has 28 Quarter Horses on-site with this year’s yearling crop recently moved to a different facility for breaking and training. One horse, Rebel Jon, is a now retired 30-year-old who still holds several Sallisaw track records.
The Count Your Gold Farm serves several purposes. While one is as a retirement location and another as a long-term injury healing facility with its own barn for that purpose, the main purpose is as a breeding farm for the George string. Some offspring are retained and trained for racing while others are sold.
A separate foaling barn houses mothers giving birth and their new foals. Because horse racing for younger horses is done by age and age is calculated from Jan. 1, the foals need to be born as close to Jan. 1 as possible in order to be as mature and well-trained as is feasible for those early races.
“While my job is always 24/7 and seven days a week, during foaling season I sleep on a cot in the heated and air-conditioned foaling barn,” Vickie said.
Vickie explained that she can tell when a mare is ready to foal because the mare gets hot and clammy and the dock of her tail becomes soft. “The most beneficial thing I can do for the new foals is to get hands on them as soon they drop.”
In effect, Vickie becomes a second mother who offers love and attention constantly. In turn, the foals, yearlings and finally racehorses come whenever she calls for a hug, a scratch, or a handful of alfalfa.
All mares are bred by AI with Ken and Reva deciding on sires after pouring over genetic and win records. Veterinarian Dr. Paula Haraway from Sallisaw performs the AI procedures with Vickie, who earned her veterinary assistant degree in 2004, serving as her assistant. Vickie administers anti-abort shots during pregnancy at the standard five, seven, nine months with gestation usually taking 11 months and one week.
Other horse care tasks for Vickie include feeding, watering, worming every couple of months with an oral wormer, currying and halter breaking. The basis of the feeding regimen is that all horses are fed a Tough Horse ration of 3 pounds daily for a typical mature horse and are given city water. Vickie said, “I don’t like them drinking out of the ponds because that water is not as good.”
A good bulk of Vickie’s time on the 80-acre farm is spent on routine farm chores. In addition to horse-related chores such as mucking out stalls and scrubbing water buckets every three days, she also mows, a never-ending task, and brush hogs. Additionally, she is responsible for fertilizing and spraying for weeds with sandbur being the most persistent issue. While she doesn’t cut, rake or bale the mixed grass hay on the 60 acres set aside for that purpose, Vickie does haul it for storage and use in conjunction with alfalfa hay from Kansas. Needless to say, Vickie’s days are long but also filled with the horses she loves.
Vickie’s daughter Tosha once had her own breeding facility but now travels with her husband Jess as he works on pipelines and moves frequently. Tosha has a 1-year-old daughter named, Jesse Ray who is 19 years younger than her older sister, Tori. Folsom Brantley was born the day before Tori’s wedding to her younger sister Cheyenne and is the first great-grandson. That means Vickie now has four granddaughters and one great-grandson to fill her life with joy.