At 26 years of age, Windy Mathews is an accomplished horse woman and competitor living in Santa Maria with her husband Chris, 6 horses, and two dogs. Together they help her dad run the “Gold Buckle Ranch” in Santa Maria as well as show their own horses in reined cow horse, reining and Team Sorting events along the Central Coast. “Gold Buckle Ranch” is a laid-back yet polished boarding facility where every discipline from barrel racers, dressage, reining and reined cow horse riders keep their horses and enjoy a fun atmosphere of riding and hanging out with friends. A typical day for Windy involves getting up early, loading the dogs in the truck and heading to the ranch for a long day of riding her horses. It’s a “dawn ’til dusk” type of day that all began at the age of 6.
Early Riding Years
Riding began for Windy at a young age with English equitation and jumping – competing in her first show at 7 years old. Being a young girl enamored with horses, she went through all the typical discipline phases by trying her hand at English, western pleasure, trail and rodeo. At age 13 she was showing at Santa Barbara Fiesta when she saw her first reining class – the rest, as they say, is history. Around this time, her parents were pretty convinced their daughter had untapped natural talent, so they drove from Santa Maria to San Luis Obispo to talk with the late Jeff Walker about taking her on as a student. At first glance Jeff told Windy’s father that he did not have room in his program to take on teaching kids, but her dad went to bat for her since he knew this was more than a passion for his daughter. He told Jeff, “I know she’s young, but I would really like you to just give her a chance to ride for you.” Jeff said ok and watched as the slight Windy, piloted her horse around the arena. Apparently, Jeff saw the natural talent Windy’s parents had seen and accepted her as a student. Windy said her mom and dad drove her up to SLO every week for lessons until she was old enough to drive herself. They were always supportive of her learning about riding and horses and helped foster her strong work ethic. She never missed a lesson and these lessons with Jeff helped solidify her love of reining and reined cow horse events.
Finding good help and good horses
Windy has ridden with local trainers such as NRCHA Champions Sandy Collier, Korie Baker, and Tucker and Tina Robinson and says they are some of her favorites! She credits Korie with teaching her “most everything I know about riding, showing and training cow horses” and has helped her become a better rider. Currently Windy has been riding with NRCHA Champion and recent Magnificent 7 winner Justin Wright, who recently re-located to Santa Maria. When asked for some sage advice she quoted NRCHA judge Sandy Collier and said
May you always be the boss, but let your horse be your teacher.
As far as equine teachers go, Windy counts her 2007 Chic Please daughter “Autumn” as one of her best. Windy and Chris bought the mare as a yearling at the 2008 Yearling and Broodmare Sale at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity and Windy has done all of the mare’s training. She considers Autumn to be “one special pony” and plans on showing her in the Bridle Classes this year. Chris and Windy recently showed Autumn and another mare “Sweetie” at the Mother’s Day Circuit in Paso Robles with Windy aboard Autumn and Chris astride Sweetie.
Accolades and Advice
Windy counts being the 2010 Reserve Open Champion at the Valley Oak Reining Series and the 2012 and 2014 Valley Penning Association Open Champion as some of her best moments. As with any great horse person, there will always be criticism and set-backs along the road to success. But with the heart of a true rider, Windy says
Over the years I have had criticism but I always look at it as there’s always more to learn, and there’s always someone that knows more then you.
The most important thing I’ve learned from talking with Windy is to never stop learning and to seek out good help and good horses whenever possible. Take lessons, constantly improve your horsemanship and skill level and never forget to have fun![contentblock id=3]