Total Earnings: $309,357
Clay Volmer grew up in South Dakota on a ranch. He competed in rodeos for a living while he earned a business degree from the National American University. He then started colts for a client who asked him to work them on cows. From there, Volmer began to get involved in cutting and worked for cutting horse trainer Greg Wright (brother to 2021 Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion Justin Wright), Larry Gonzales and a few others.
Volmer went out on his own training cutters. In 2015, he was asked to show a reined cow horse and figured it wouldn’t be that difficult. Little did he know, it was a lot harder than he thought, he said. He has never worked for anyone in the cow horse world. He helped Chris Dawson with herd work, in turn, Dawson helped him with his cow horse training.
Volmer and his wife Veronica train out of their facility in Brock, TX. Volmer still has cutting horses but a majority of his barn is cow horses.
Some of Volmer’s most recent accomplishments include: 2020 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open CoReserve Champion, 2018 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Intermediate Open Champion, 2016 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Limited Open Champion, 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open High Score Herd Work.
What’s your most memorable moment in the sport?
“Winning the Intermediate [at the 2018 Snaffle Bit Futurity] on SDP Hy Rey Bound. Also winning Reserve Champion last year [at the 2020 Snaffle Bit Futurity] on Ricato Suave.”
What is your training philosophy?
“I try to keep it very simple. I try to make my horses think for themselves a lot. I don’t want to have to manipulate every single thing they do. I just want to train them so they have a thought process. And once they get trained they stay trained for a very long time. They think about it instead of me having to think about it all the time for them.”
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
“A horse show is not the end of the world. Justin [Wright] and I actually just talked about this when we were in Vegas at the Run For A Million. There was a younger guy at the horse show and he was so panicked about his three year olds. And he asked me and Justin, ‘How do you deal with it? You have all these three year olds. Doesn’t it just drive you crazy?’ I said I used to let it consume me if I didn’t do well at a horse show. It was the end of my world, but you really start thinking about it and enjoy the process and try to do your best every time. Help the horse out and they’ll help you.”
What inspires you?
“Just getting to see what happens next and trying to better myself every time I show one. Or better myself every time I train one. I just aspire to get better every day.”
How do you define feel and can you teach feel?
“That’s the hardest thing there is to teach someone. I think a horse will teach somebody to feel more than we humans will. It’s hard for us to just tell someone about feel. You could be riding around for hours with someone telling you what to do and you might never feel it. I think everybody has feel, it’s just if they recognize it. I think that’s the biggest thing, the recognition of when to give the horse the release.”
“As long as you give a release when the horse gives you the desired result, it doesn’t matter what the cue is. It doesn’t have to be a certain cue, it can be whatever cue you want, you just have to teach them that.”