Behind the Slide – Tracey Heeter Allen, Oregon

It was a lucky day for Tracey Heeter Allen when a pony got stuck in a briar patch. She was just 8 years old when her grandpa rescued that pony from the thicket and gifted her to Tracey. 

“We had just moved to the country and I always said that I wanted a horse,” Tracey remembers fondly. “I kind of trained her on my own and we started doing equitation and showmanship in 4-H.” 

Tracey and her pony, Sunday Sox. Photo courtesy of Tracey Heeter Allen

Eventually, Tracey transitioned to the Quarter Horse circuit. She was competing in the youth all-around events alongside both of her parents, Jack and Priscilla Heeter. As a senior in high school, Tracey competed in showmanship at the AQHyA World Show. But after that, she quit cold turkey when she left for college. 

Both of Tracey’s parents kept showing. Her dad actually started reining when he was in his 40s. In the last couple of years, while Tracey’s 12-year-old daughter was taking riding lessons, she tagged along for a couple of rides. It was the perfect opportunity for Tracey to get back into the saddle after almost 30 years. 

“My dad actually asked if I wanted to give reining a try,” Tracey said. “He helped me find my horse at Tamarack Ranch. If it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t have Fabio (Shinehollywoodshine).”

Tracey showing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the American Junior Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in 1987. The association later changed the name to the American Quarter Horse Youth Association. Photo courtesy of Tracey Heeter Allen

Tracey’s mom passed away just a year before Fabio came into the picture. “My dad went out to Tamarack Ranch to try Fabio out for me and said he was amazing,” Tracey said. “I drove out there and tried him on the anniversary of my mom’s passing. And then we made the decision to buy him on the anniversary of my mom’s celebration of life. Fabio is a dream horse. It’s been a really cool experience.” 

The pair jumped into reining with both feet without knowing a global pandemic would keep them out of the show pen most of the year. Despite the circumstances of 2020, Tracey and Fabio still managed to compete in two shows last year. They even won their first buckle together in an Oregon Reining Horse Association Tenderfoot class. 

Although her journey with the Classic Equine Green Reiner program is only just beginning, Tracey has deep roots in the horse industry thanks to her parents. 

“I’m riding with the same trainer–Tom St. Hilaire–that my dad did when he was reining,” Tracey said. “I’m just trying to follow in his footsteps as I get back in the game. He loves that I’m reining. Of course, he likes to critique and gives me pointers.”

Jack (in the saddle) and Priscilla (pictured holding the buckle) were acquainted with NRHA Professional Tom St. Hilaire (center, in plaid), long before 2020.
Now, he’s Tracey and Fabio’s reining trainer. Photo courtesy of Tracey Heeter Allen.

Now 52, some days Tracey thinks to herself, “Gosh, what I have I gotten myself into?” But that thought is quickly flooded by great memories from the past year. 

“I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of reining and learning something new,” Tracey said. “I’ve enjoyed learning from my trainer and Fabio. It’s a very rewarding partnership.” 

Tracey quickly made friends at her trainer’s barn. And some of those individuals showed with her parents. “They’ve kind of taken me under their wing to support me in my reining. That’s been a real blessing for sure.” 

Fabio and Tracey’s first show of 2021 is coming up in just two short months. They’re looking forward to entering more green reiner classes as they work towards earning their Green Reiner II Buckle from NRHA Corporate Partner Montana Silversmiths.

“I’m excited to get back into the show pen and build on the foundation we started last year,” Tracey said. “Ultimately, I’d like to compete for some year-end awards maybe in 2021 or in the next few years. Other than that I just want to keep building my partnership with Fabio and gain more experience so we can start competing at bigger events.”  

For the month of March, we’re highlighting our Classic Equine Green Reiner Program! Stay tuned for more program highlights like this one all month long. And to learn more about green reiner, click here.

Tracey and Fabio winning their first buckle together in 2020.
Photo by Elizabeth Knight Photography