• Frank Haight: His childhood love is now the career he loves

  •  You could say it was love at first sight.

    Growing up on a southern Texas farm where his father trained horses, a young Olin Parker fell in love with these magnificent animals at an early age. And his love has never waned.

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  • You could say it was love at first sight.
    Growing up on a southern Texas farm where his father trained horses, a young Olin Parker fell in love with these magnificent animals at an early age. And his love has never waned.
    “I always knew I was going to be a horse trainer,” says Olin, whose obsession with horses goes back as far as he can remember.
    Olin’s life is full of remembrances, but none more memorable than the Christmas gift he received in 1982 as a 6-year-old.
    Standing in the barn, adorned with a big, red bow around her neck, was Snowflake – his very first horse – whom Olin describes as “an old, broke albino mare,” which he says was the turning point of his life.
    From that point on, “Everything was horses,” he says, especially after a horse kicked his father, shattering his rib cage and damaging his liver.
    Following the serious mishap, Olin’s dad backed off from horses. But not Olin. The 15-year-old took over his dad’s business and started training horses on the side – something he loved doing.
    Today, Olin, 36, is a successful horse trainer in Eastern Jackson County, where he owns Olin Parker LLC – a horse-training business that specializes in readying halter horses to compete on the national and world championship level.
    In November, six horses under Olin’s charge captured world championship titles at the 2012 World Champion American Paint Horse Show in Fort Worth, Texas, which is one of the APHA’s premier events.
    One of the winners was Intentionally Made, who competed in the World Champion Open Yearling Mare class. She was owned by RaMax Farms in Independence.
    “She is very special to me,” Olin says of Intentionally Made, because “her mother was my very first American Paint world champion.”
    Olin resides in Grain Valley with his wife and two children, but he works out of Butch and Lisa Maxwell’s farm in northeast Independence and another farm in Oak Grove.
    “They weren’t using (the barn) and they told me that I could come here until I got going. It’s been four years going on five now, and I have been here ever since.”
    Olin says the Maxwells have 10 horses that he grooms and prepares for competition. He also helps them select stallions to breed with their mares.
    What makes a good horse trainer?
    “I think the key for me is a great work ethic and staying fresh-minded,” he says, explaining it’s a seven-day-a-week job and the horses always come first.
    “They cannot feed themselves. They cannot clean up after themselves, and if they are sick, you have to walk in the barn and see it, because they can’t tell you. So you have to be aware of your surroundings.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Most businesses have a goal, and so do Olin and his employees: To have healthy, successful horses.
    Says Olin: “We want everything to stay clean and neat, and we want what’s best for the horses and what’s best for the customers,” some of whom live in California and beyond.
    Because customers want to know how their horses are progressing, Olin says he spends about 80 percent of a day on the phone bringing them up to date.
    “People trust us with their animals,” he says. “They send them here to us to get them prepared, and once we show (them) – and that’s successful – we make our money training horses, going to horse shows, and then with selling horses. We sell a lot of them.”
    At the world show, paints and quarter horses are judged on structural correctness and confirmation,” Olin says, explaining structural correctness is the way a horse’s neck ties into the shoulder and the way the wither, which is right before the back, sits.
    What the judges are looking for, he says, are for good, strong backs and a long croup from the point of the hip to the point of the tail. They also want a big hip and for their back knees to be straight, in addition to a big body with not much fat.
    Although the APHA World Championship Paint Horse Show was 10 months ago, Olin is already focused on this year’s competition in November.
    Though horses compete all year long, Olin says they aren’t peaked to be their very best until November, explaining that if the animals peak too soon, there is no way to keep them looking their best until November.
    “So we strive all year long to get a set of horses put together that will be the best fit for our clients and for the judges and we aim for that one horse show.”
    Standing in the wings watching is Olin’s 8-year-old daughter, Presley Parker, who may be following in her dad’s footsteps. At the Youth World Championship in June, Presley showed Infallible, a paint mare, and won first in the Youth 3-Year-Old Mares class.
    Congratulations Olin and Presley. Keep up the good work.
    Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.

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