Total Earnings: $1,779,320
Geoffrey Sheehan grew up in Gundagai, New South Wales, Australia. At about 12 years old he started working for renowned trainer Graham Amos on school holidays. When Sheehan was 16, Graham Amos came to the States to compete in cutting. Sheehan decided that was his path too and continued working for him in America.
Amos was Sheehan’s main mentor, but he also credits other trainers for teaching him along the way such as John Mitchell, Roger Wagner, and Clint Allen to name a few.
“The first time I ever walked into Will Rogers I [thought] this is what I want to do,” Sheehan said.
You’ll also see Sheehan in another arena. As a kid, he took part in the Australian sport called Camp Drafting which he loved. It shares many similarities with the reined cow horse. Sheehan started training and showing cow horses over the past couple of years and is looking forward to showing in the upcoming 2020 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity.
Sheehan has spent the last, approximately, seven years training horses for the Beechfork Ranch in Weatherford, TX and looks forward to new opportunities at the conclusion of the 2020 NCHA Futurity.
What is your training philosophy?
“One of the biggest things Graham always told me was ‘as much as you can as smooth as you can’ and I believe that… What I want to try to get everyday is to have a horse get confident and trust you to where the end product is what you can show and have the horses be so confident… got to think they can do it. There might be a little disciplining in between but the more confident they are the better they take the discipline.”
How would you define feel?
“Feel is something that can never be taught. You either have it or you don’t. You can develop it to a degree. Things feel different to everyone, but it’s one of the hardest things to get. [Something I work on everyday] is I want it to feel and get easier. I want everything to feel softer and smoother. Describing feel, the best way to put it is if it keeps feeling better, that means you’re doing it right. And if it doesn’t feel better, it means you’re doing it wrong.”
Has showing in the cowhorse competitions helped you with your cutting?
“Yes, anytime you get out of your comfort zone, you’re learning. Everyone can stay in a little shell and not get better but to me each time I fail means I’m closer to succeeding. I learn so much from it, whether I do good or do bad…It’s helped my cutting [because] it’s made me trust my training more.
Have you had to adjust a lot going into the cow horse world?
“Yes, it’s helped my riding a lot. It’s made me be more aware of stuff. You’re not relying on a tie down or you’re not relying on a big bridle, so I have to keep adjusting, because at the end of the day it’s got to be where I can do it in a snaffle.”
What advice do you have for an up and coming trainer?
“The biggest thing I can say is to get with one program and stay there and learn everything you can. And go somewhere good because you are better off learning it once rather than 3 or 4 different ways… To a degree it gets easier but some stuff gets harder. You better be ready for disappointment because the amount of wins to the amount of heartbreaks, there are a lot more heartbreaks. I’m not a negative guy but, [that’s just the reality of it]. I see a lot of people get [mad] after one [bad show] and say ‘well, I’m going to do something else’ but you’ve got to be ready for [the tough times].”
Sheehan said every year he learns more and his training gets more refined. “Where the end is, I don’t know, but that’s why it takes a 220 now to make the Finals usually. Everyone is getting better and you have to keep getting better. There are no shortcuts.”
What is your best memory in the sport?
“Your last run is probably your best memory because you want to do better. I probably remember the worst things rather than the best. One of my favorite things to do is ride a horse for two years and take it to the Futurity. And know I taught this horse everything, it’s a bond. As far as winning, [my best memory] was marking a 229 [to win the 2018 Mercuria in Las Vegas riding Cromed Out Cat]… Every year after the Futurity I change my program, I never want to live in the past, always the present…I’m always thinking about ‘what is this horse thinking?’ Is it thinking the same thoughts I’m thinking or is it a totally different thought?… The part I like is knowing what I’m teaching this horse.”