“I advise young trainers to do what I have done and I don’t think they hear me,” Vogt said Friday morning at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
Vogt, who resides in Pismo Beach, Calif., is in Reno this week competing in the 42nd annual National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity, an event he tied to win in its inaugural year, 1970. With 31 championship titles under his belt, including two NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity titles, Vogt is giving the competition a run for their money yet again this year.
At press time, Vogt was leading in the Intermediate group and in fourth place in the Open class. The futurity winner will be decided Sunday in the Open Finals at the Reno Livestock Events Center, where the top finishers from preliminary rounds that have taken place earlier in the week will vie for a $100,000 first place check.
So what is it Vogt is telling younger trainers that they are not hearing? The answer is simple: advertise your name.
“I met this guy on an airplane once who said, ‘Les, you’re going to die poor unless you make yourself famous,’ ” Vogt said. “He said, ‘He who bloweth not his own horn hath not his horn blown.’ ”
Though he had been competing for years and was well-known in reined cow horse circles, Vogt decided about 20 years ago to take the advice of that man he met on the plane.
“I learned how to do press releases,” Vogt said, before he had a computer. “They were all over the house.”
Vogt sent hundreds of press releases and photos to publications across the country, writing about horse shows he was going to, just trying to get his name in print.
“I’d say 15 to 20 percent of them got printed,” he said.
Vogt said he believes anyone can be successful in their endeavors. If their goal is to make money training horses, they have to learn to market themselves.
“Anybody can do this,” he said. “It’s just taking the effort and time to make yourself famous.”
And fame is something Vogt has definitely achieved. According to his website, www.lesvogt.com, he is a 15-time world champion famous for training winning reining and reined cow horses that are known for their great attitude and longevity in the show pen.
Along with his two NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity wins, in his only trip to the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Championship show, he won both the Senior Working Cow Horse and the Senior Reining Events, something that has never been done by any other horse and rider combination.
Vogt was inducted into the NRCHA Hall of Fame in 2004, and has had two of his horses listed in the Hall of Fame.
“I hold three inductions,” Vogt said. “One for myself, one for King Fritz and one for Chex A Nic.”
Chex A Nic was inducted into the NRCHA Hall of Fame in 2010. The gelding won more than $37,000 and two AQHA World Championships during his 9-year career.
“He won NRCHA open bridle classes and open stock horse classes, as well as titles from events such as the Blue Ribbon Saddle Circuit and the Hollywood Reining Royal,” the NRCHA website states. “In 1992, Chex A Nic became the first horse ever to win both a reining and cow horse AQHA world titles in the same year.”
Though Chex A Nic was a favorite of Vogt’s, King Fritz, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, is the horse that Vogt says propelled him to the top of the reined cow horse game.
Vogt bought King Fritz from Fritz Watkin for $50,000, money he didn’t have at the time.
According to www.nrcha.com, Vogt called Watkin and offered him $1,000 earnest money to purchase King Fritz and a band of broodmares for a total of $70,000.
“Friend and customer Max Roof helped Les put together a business plan and found a lender,” the NRCHA website states. “The horse’s rise to stardom was so successful the loan was paid off within a year.”
“Those horses were pure magic,” Vogt said on Friday. “They propelled me to the top … but when King Fritz died, I fell back into the masses of trainers.”
King Fritz died in the late 1970s, leaving Vogt to develop an actual training program for horses for the first time.
“I didn’t know how to train a horse,” he said. “They were training me … (When King Fritz died), it made me become a student of the art of training and I had to develop a program. Without that bump in the road, I would have never had to do that.”
Vogt went on to develop training programs, which he now shares with others in horse training clinics, books and videos.
Vogt is especially pleased with one of the horses he is riding this year at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, Nic It Smartly (but Vogt calls him Sparky).
“Sparky is the first horse in my life that I have completely maximized with a program, form to function,” he said. “He thinks this horse show is a party —a party just for him —because there is no pressure.”
Vogt isn’t feeling any pressure either. About 15 or 20 years ago he redesigned his life to allow for less stress and more time to do the things he enjoys, and is glad he did. He started putting on training clinics and competing less.
“I do about 30 clinics a year and I really enjoy them,” he said. “I love to help people.”
When he isn’t teaching, Vogt spends time with his horses and a 31-year-old named Cody Morrow, who is the equine manager/trainer at the ranch where Vogt’s horses are.
“I truly admire him,” Vogt said of Morrow. “He has more character … I have been around him every day for almost four years now and never had a cross word.”
Vogt and Morrow ride colts every morning at Rancho Arroyo Grande, about 20 miles from Vogt’s home, then rope in the afternoons.
“We ride colts for two to three hours every morning and I help Cody,” he said. “Then we run the steers in the afternoon and he helps me with my roping. Then we barbecue some chicken.”
Life is good for the man who has a chance this Sunday to win yet another NRCHA Snaffle Bit championship.
“I’m in a really good space in life right now,” he said, adding that he and business partner Linda Boggs are doing well selling horse products, bits and spurs, and doing television shows.
To learn more about Vogt, visit www.lesvogt.com.