Kevin and Stephany Bufe had their hands full showing off Bossy Minnie Pearl’s ribbons from the 2018 Fort Worth Stock Stow and Rodeo Horse Show. • Photo courtesy of Stephany Bufe.

Triumph Over Tragedy

In March, Stephany Bufe was hopeful her prized mare Bossy Minnie Pearl (CD Lights x Shiners Hot Flash x Shining Spark) would conceive and produce the futurity prospect of Bufe’s dreams. But, it was not to be.

The sorrel mare, known simply as “Pearl,” won more than $2,200 in reined cow horse with Bufe. Along with her job as a performance horse, she was put to work on Bufe and her husband’s cow/calf operation.

“Even though she was a show mare, she had so many other aspects to her. She was a great all-around mare. She just loved everybody,” Bufe recalled.

The breeding facility prepared to breed Pearl, but the mare wouldn’t ovulate. Eventually Bufe decided that time away from the facility might benefit Pearl, so she headed to pick up the mare.

As she drove, she received a call that a routine ultrasound went wrong; Pearl’s rectum tore and she was being rushed to the vet. The mare battled for her life, but a negative drug reaction on day four forced Bufe to make the hard decision and euthanize.

Tormented with grief following Pearl’s death, Bufe was in no hurry to replace the mare. Still, she had little time to mourn. Work at a cow/calf operation is never done.

“I was definitely grief-stricken, but we had to work cows,” she said. “We had to pull off some calves and work them.”

When Bufe was ready, she searched for a smaller, younger mare that was reminiscent of Pearl.

“Once I went [and started] trying them out, Tammy [Hays] listened to me, and she goes, ‘You know, what you want is not what you need,’” Bufe remembered.

Hays encouraged Bufe to consider older horses. Soon, Bufe climbed aboard her future teammate, Clever Kat.

 “She [Hays] was right. He wasn’t what I wanted, but he was what I needed. He was well-broke. He had been shown, was able to ride out confidently on his own, and I could take him out in the pastures,” Bufe explained of “Smarty.”

Clever Kat and Bufe competed in the herd work at the SRCHA Pre-Futurity. • Fletch Photography.

She and Smarty teamed up for their first championship at the SRCHA Pre-Futurity, where they topped the Derby Limited Non-Pro.

“My last big show with Pearl was at Fort Worth, so I was just fighting back tears the entire first reining pattern, just knowing it should have been her,” Bufe said. “[Smarty] did amazing. He took my nerves and my emotions and handled them well, because there were lots of raw emotions.”