A piece of horsehair attached to a medallion sits behind the seat of a saddle cinched to a loud-colored Appaloosa named Bane. It bounces along to Bane’s gait, almost unnoticeable to those who haven’t heard the story behind it.
In November 2017 hurricane Irma ripped across the state of Florida. In her path was NRHA Professional Bud Roebuck’s training barn. Of the 23 horses at Bud’s place, all but one survived the horror.
That one horse was named Flag and belonged to Barbara Zappia. After 35 years removed from riding, Flag was Barbara’s first steps back into the industry. “Flag was a two-year-old when I got him and he was not reining bred. The more we worked with him, the more I felt like he had a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things,” Barbara said. “I was referred to Bud and the first day Flag was down here his wife asked me what I wanted to do with him. I said, ‘let’s find out.’”
Flag’s stops hovered around the 20-foot mark, his spins were tight and crisp, and his lead changes were “like a hot knife through butter.” The bay Appaloosa carried a full white blanket. He was the picture-perfect model for the breed. “For a horse that wasn’t bred to rein, Flag was really steppin’ up,” Bud said. Flag’s injuries from the hurricane were severe enough that he was humanely euthanized. This left Barbara both devastated and once again on the outside of the equine industry. This is where Lesley Temple steps into the saga.
“Lesley reached out to Barbara and shot her a pretty good deal on Bane so she could stay in the horse business,” Bud said of the Appaloosa stallion. “We’ve been training him since he was two.”
Regardless of their score, Barbara was just thankful to continue her journey as a horsewoman. Bane’s demeanor tells the story of this young talent and alludes to the road ahead.
“Nothing phases him, he’s just even keeled as can be,” Barbara said. “He’s the type of guy who walks into a party and shakes everyone’s hands and then sits down for the night.”
To further illustrate the point, Bud explained that he wouldn’t be afraid to put a five-year-old kid on Bane’s back.
“He’s quiet enough that he’ll come back to his rider no matter what,” Bud said. “Nothing spooks him, he never gets excited or loses his mind.”
Lesley is blazing a trail for Appaloosa’s in the reining industry. Bane is just one of many horses she’s added to the lineup.
“Lesley has a fantastic program that she’s diligently working to bring Appaloosas back to what they were in the 70s and 80s in the performance cow horse world,” Barbara said. “I praise her for it, she’s done an exceptional job and will continue to do so.”
Looking forward, Bud anticipates introducing Bane to cattle and tapping into some of his other natural skills. He anticipates bringing Bane back to OKC for the NRHA Derby. Barbara hopes to be showing Bane herself in the next couple of years. Regardless of the path the trio take, whenever Bane is ridden, Flag rides with him in the form of that horsehair medallion.