From the start, Wesley Galyean’s focus in the cutting pen has been to succeed on the ground that covers the floor of Will Rogers Coliseum. His ability to find pay dirt in the Triple Crown events at such a young age has resulted in more than $1.2 Million in earnings with those shows alone. Add to that his wins in other limited aged events, and the 29-year old trainer from Claremore, Oklahoma, has lifetime earnings in excess of $3,634,750, qualifying him for the NCHA Riders Hall of Fame.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Wesley was surrounded by horses and good horsemen, in particular his NCHA Hall of Fame trainer father, Jody, and AQHA Hall of Fame trainer grandfather, Kenneth. Although both cutting and western pleasure horses were in the family’s barn, Wesley gravitated to the action and adventure of cutting.
“I just loved the feel of a cutting horse underneath me. The power, the intensity, the challenge of holding a cow, all those kinds of things.”
“I was riding a little of both, but I just loved the feel of a cutting horse underneath me. The power, the intensity, the challenge of holding a cow, all those kinds of things,” he explains. Although he attended college for a short time, Galyean knew a classroom with desks and chairs was not the type of education he wanted. An educational environment with dirt, horses and cows was more his style.
“I knew college wasn’t for me. Ever since I was young, this is what I loved and what I wanted to do,” he says. “When I left college, everyone gave me a hard time because they said it wasn’t very smart, this and that. But I knew cutting was what I wanted to do, and no one could talk me into anything different.”
After his 20th birthday, Galyean made the finals of the Non-Pro Futurity on a horse he trained himself, Merada Quik Peppier, earning almost $35,000. That accomplishment foreshadowed the earnings yet to come at Will Rogers for the young trainer.
One year later, riding a sorrel stallion his family bred and Galyean trained, he became the youngest to ever win the NCHA Futurity, marking a 225 on Spots Hot. “That was the highlight of my career. There is not anything like winning the Futurity. It’s our Super Bowl, what everybody aims at. There’s nothing professionally that comes close to that. That feeling—when the buzzer sounded – besides the birth of my daughter, it was the greatest feeling ever.”
In addition to winning the Open division as a Non-Pro rider, Galyean also finished fourth in the Non-Pro Futurity. The win propelled Galyean’s training career into a full-time venture with many of his accomplishments surrounding the sorrel stallion. By the end of the Spots Hot career, Galyean and the stallion earned seven major event championships, six major reserve championships and were finalists 22 times.
“Spot was an enormous blessing from up above for me and my family. Professionally and financially, he did everything for me,” Galyean says.
He also has championships at a variety of other aged events with Hangem Cat, Missing Addition, Shes Icing On The Cat, and Hi Kitty Kitty.
Wins at the two other Triple Crown events are still goals for Galyean, although he’s come extremely close, with numerous top five finishes and reserve championships.
Of course, another Futurity title would also be a great accomplishment, he says. Galyean came close in 2010, earning the reserve championship in the Open Futurity aboard Some Like It Hott, a daughter of Spots Hot.
“My main focus is on the Fort Worth shows. I want to do every- thing I can to get better and win those shows,” he says.
Growing up in a household of legendary horsemen, Galyean says his father, Jody, is the person who’s had the most influence on his career, fol- lowed by Matt Gaines. “Dad taught me to be a great horseman, and to try to figure out a horse’s mind, what motivates it, what helps, what doesn’t.
“Matt was icing on the cake for me, helping shape me up a bit. He taught me how to clean up a horse, make them do it right, teach them to be clean and collected doing everything,” he says.
Although many have had a hand in helping Galyean along the way, he is quick to thank God for his opportunities. “I feel like everything is a blessing, and I’ve been extremely blessed.”
He also thanks his wife Kristen. “She’s the backbone of our business. We enjoy everything together, working horses, spending time with our little girl Gracelyn; we always enjoy it.”
And his mom is on the thank you list as well. “Growing up she was always really supportive of me. She’s been a big influence in my life.”
No matter where his successes in the cutting pen take him, Galyean says it’s important to keep his priorities in line. “Cutting is important, but living right and family is more important than anything. I don’t ever want to get that out of perspective.”
– By Jill J. Dunkel
NCHA Cutting Chatter