#raisingriders Spotlight: The Schumann Family

Friday, September 25, 2015 - 1:15pm
by Meg Drake

Throughout the past few weeks we’ve been running a special social media campaign titled #RaisingRIDErs. Each week we’ve highlighted a RIDE TV team member, youth, or family involved with horses. This week the spotlight is on a dear family friend from Kansas, the Bryce and Gina Schumann family. Bryce and Gina have raised all four of their children around horses and ranching. This week on the blog, Gina tells their #RaisingRIDErs story. Enjoy!

Bryce, Gina and Schumann kids pictured with friends. From left, family friend, Trevor Madorin, Kassidy Schumann (13), Gina Schumann, Jessye Schumann (15), Wyatt Schumann (21), Dylan Schumann (18), Bryce Schumann, and family friends Logan Drake, Colby Brownrigg and Nicki Snodgrass.  

Q: How are horses involved in what do you and your husband do for a living?

A: Ranching is apart of who we are and a part of our livelihood. We use horses in our day-to-day operations on the ranch. Our horses are used to gather cattle, rope and doctor pasture cattle, check cow-calf pairs, sort cattle in the pens and or pasture, and in some instances – just ride. 

In the summer time especially, the kids are saddling before daylight to be at the pasture at sunrise to beat the heat to check cattle before they shade up – what a great experience for them to notice a sunrise together – or engage in an argument about why they had to get up so early and miss breakfast… 

A young Kassidy (now 13) enjoys saddling up and riding pastures with her mom, dad, and three older brothers. 

Q: At what age did each of your kids get introduced/acquainted with horses?

A: I have been involved with horses all my life – whether it be gathering cattle on the ranch or at a fun show with friends; 4-H, barrel racing, putting time on green broke babies, or just riding for fun.

It was easy for me to continue to ride into my pregnancy. After my kids were born, they were all horseback with me by the age of 4 to 5 months, depending on the season.  We would just go for a ride and check cattle together. They loved it! As they grew older, we moved up accordingly with their riding skills and the horses they started with.

Q: What’s your favorite horseback activity to participate in as a family?

A: Definitely checking pastures and cattle! It’s a time to be together, reflect, visit and enjoy GOD’s gift of the land and the beauty of his nature. It’s great to be out in the open space and just breathe it all in.

Jessye (15) and Kassidy (13) exchange high-fives after a job well done. 

Q: What’s it like having four kids that ride? Helpful?

A: Having 4 kids that ride is an incredible feeling. It is a grand accomplishment! I guess they really never had an opportunity to not want to ride… It’s just a part of who we are and what we do and how we represent our heritage and keep in touch with it. It is incredibly helpful, as they can go out on their own tasks if needed and can handle many situations.

I have always encouraged the kids to ride not only their horses, but other horses as well when they have the opportunity. My oldest was fortunate enough to spend a week with a cutting horse trainer when he was in junior high. It was a wonderful opportunity that allowed him to ride many different horses and be around someone else’s expectations.

The kids have been involved with the 4-H program and many different horse camps throughout the years. They have learned everything from the anatomy of the horse, to nutrition, hoof care and horsemanship…to name a few. We tell them you should never stop learning, there is always more information out there and someone that has had a different experience; always be able to listen to others.

With the kids all riding and always having friends over – it has been fun to watch the kids pass on their love of horses and riding to their own friends. It is time spent fellowshipping, whether they are mounting for the first time, learning how to saddle, throwing on a halter and riding around bareback together, or just spending some girl time brushing and braiding manes and tails.

Q: You have a son with autism; what has his horse riding journey been like?

A: It has been an incredible journey to watch him grow into an actual horseman. First you need to understand that the Autism spectrum runs from a very high end to a very low end of functioning… for our son, we are fortunate that he is toward the high end. I never gave it a thought that he couldn’t ride or wouldn’t ride. I’m just stubborn like that I guess. We’ve had some tremendous horses on the ranch over the years and with all the riding, we have a pretty good handle on what the horses personalities are like and how far they can be pushed – not that something couldn’t happen – they are big animals and do have minds of their own, but you just know your mounts.

One of my very best friends was a foster child and adopted into a wonderful family with a tremendous passion for horses and riding. Her mother would watch me after grade school and typically we would be horseback until my mother picked me up. As a foster parent, she would have children in her home that came from broken homes and or had physical or mental handicaps. The one thing I learned from watching her over the years was – horses are great therapy. Whether it be just needing a friend, a silent friend to vent to, a soft muzzle or a whisking tail as a sensory treatment, the rocking motion of movement, or something like a horse to give you the independence and challenge of doing something yourself – horses were just good for your state of mind. 

A young Dylan, (now 18) pictured riding pasture. Dylan has been riding horses for most of his life.

Our son is now 18 and has been riding as long as the other kids and loves it. He bridles, saddles, catches, turns loose, walks, trots, gallops, goofs around playing tag, trail rides, helps gather cattle and rides out by himself. We are lucky and blessed that he has taught us more on “his journey” than he has taught himself.

Q: Is there any sibling rivalry when it comes to riding/horse abilities?

A: Awe sibling rivalry’s – ALWAYS! Who can be tacked up first; can you ride with just a halter; look at me – I’m a trick rider, who wants to pasture race; I’m riding the black mare today; first one to put a heel loop on that calf…; I will carry the doctoring bag; etc. They are always challenging each other to new levels – it’s great! It helps them become more confident riders.

It looks like this Schumann duo won the “who can drag a calf first” contest.

Q: How do you think raising your children around and on horses has helped them develop? What life lessons have they learned from spending time in the saddle?

A: Raising kids around horses and ranch life has created this growth and formation right in front of us. Four kids in the saddle have become more responsible and aware of their surroundings. I was riding with my daughter the other day and a group of quail flew out of the native grass – immediately the horses ears pricked up – it had rained and the creek was running when we crossed it – the horses looked down to see what they were crossing, which made us look at the moving water – the horses nibbling at the big bluestem that is so abundant this year, makes us take notice of the grass and grazing patterns of the cattle more. These are just examples of simple things we take for granted that we notice because our horses do. 

The time commitment and dedication they have put toward the horses shows them what it’s like to put another’s needs before their own. Getting their horse a drink, loosening a saddle, brushing them off, just knowing that these horses they are riding are amazing animals – these are all examples of developing responsibility and accountability as a rider and as a teammate.

The Schumann’s start them out young on the ranch. Jessye riding double with mom, Gina and Dylan riding double with big brother, Wyatt.

Special thanks to Gina for taking the time to answer questions and serve as this week’s #RaisingRIDErs spotlight.

Until next time RIDE Nation,