In the Spotlight

Whether it’s breeding, showing or riding, Warnetta Martin is at home, just as long as they’re American Quarter Horses.

By Tara Matsler
The American Quarter Horse Journal
June 17, 2013

Warnetta Martin

“We really enjoy the baby colts and raising them, just like my granddad did, and watching them and training them," says Warnetta Martin of Canyon, Texas. (Journal photo)

The American Quarter Horse is Warnetta Martin’s breed.

In Walsh, Colorado, Warnetta was raised on the backs of her grandfather’s homebreds. An AQHA 30-year breeder, Warren Konkel bred and raised 393 registered foals. And those foals saw a good deal of success, too. The 55 point earners Warren raised earned 2,064.5 points combined.

“My granddad was real big into halter horses,” says Warnetta, who was actually named after Warren. “I didn’t really go that direction; my husband, Terry, and I are more into performance horses – the roping-, reining-, working cow horse-type of horses.”

Although Warnetta strayed from Warren’s halter-horse lines of breeding, she still carries on his legacy and passion for horse breeding.

“I like crossing different bloodlines – different mares with different studs to just see what their abilities are,” Warnetta says.  

One of Warnetta’s most treasured horses from her grandfather’s breeding program was Flit Dan, a 1977 chestnut gelding by Skippen Dance and out of the Bar Flit daughter Bar Flit’s Goldy. With lineage tracing to American Quarter Horse Hall of Famers Lena’s Bar (TB), Sugar Bars and Skipper W, “Flitz” was a great representation of the bloodlines Warren was knee-deep in.

“I started with him when he was 2, and I showed him until he was really old,” Warnetta says of Flitz. “I had had him for 30 years when he died. I would let 4-H kids ride him.

“He just was my whole world; I did everything with him. Most people, they don’t even stay married for 30 years, and I had my horse for 30 years!”

Warnetta has earned points in everything from heading to halter and showmanship to western riding, but it was reining that she landed on, and reining is where she has stayed.

Docs Frosty Lena CT was the culprit. The 1996 sorrel stallion got Warnetta hooked on reining. And how could she resist? By Colonel Rey Lena (by Doc O’Lena) and out of Docs Frosted Flake by American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer Freckles Playboy, “Frosty” was a natural-born reiner.  

Having moved to Canyon, Texas, to attend West Texas A&M University, Warnetta wasn’t exactly living in the epicenter of reiner country. But the horsewoman found a kindred spirit in aspiring trainer Melanie Wilhelm, and down the road the duo went.

While Warnetta’s husband, Terry, stayed at home to rope and man their store, West Texas Western Wear, Warnetta and Melanie beat a path to north central Texas, seeking help from esteemed reining trainers Jeff Petska, Clint Haverty and Pete Kyle.

The picture of just Warnetta and Melanie hauling down the road is a far-fetched one these days. Should you attend a West Texas Reining Horse Association event, you wouldn’t be surprised to see Wilhelm Performance Horses taking up an entire barn aisle. Much success has come the way of the Nazareth, Texas, horse trainer, most recently in the form of the 2013 National Reining Horse Association Horsewoman of the Year crown.

Warnetta has seen her own success, too. In 2003, she and Frosty were finalists in amateur reining at the AQHA World Championship Show. They also earned an AQHA Superior in 2006.

Yet it’s not in the show pen that Warnetta finds her greatest joy with horses. It’s as a breeder.

“We really enjoy the baby colts and raising them, just like my granddad did, and watching them and training them. Watching them evolve into something, just like they were kids of ours.”

The American Quarter Horse Journal loves to feature the hard-working AQHA exhibitor, and In the Spotlight is the Journal’s fun new way to do so. Do you know a hard-working AQHA competitor who deserves some time in the limelight? Email AQHA Internet Editor Tara Matsler at tmatsler@aqha.org to submit story ideas, then visit www.aqha.com/inthespotlight to view more In the Spotlight stories.