Rob Lawson

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Rob Lawson, principle of Lawson's Performance Horses, first became interested in
horses at an early age when visiting Loeky Young at her Green hills stud in the mid '70s.
Rob was fascinated by Loekys' natural affinity with her animals and became hooked on
becoming a horseman.

After doing a little rodeoing while still at school and doing a stint at Wave Hill station in
the NT after finishing year 12 Rob settled down to studying mechanical engineering at
Sydney Tech while helping people with their problem horses part time. It was around this
time that Rob became interested in Reining. " I remember seeing Reining for the first
time at a County of Cumberland Quarter Horse show at Bossley Park in the late '70s and
thinking, Wow, these guys can really ride! I came home and started trying to do stops
and pivots on my old horse, I don't think he was particularly impressed!". It was not until
starting to get some lessons from Lyn Croft that the pieces started to fall into place, Lyn
also introduced Rob to Ross Gould and Annette Sainsbury. "Ross was a great sounding
board for me, especially after I got back from the States, we rode together quite a bit in
those early days".

                             Lawson's Performance Horses first started trading in 1990
                             after Rob returned from a year working in the States. This
                             trip laid the foundation to many of the techniques that Rob
                             still uses today. "I was really lucky to have worked for or
                             ridden with some great teachers while I was on my first trip
                             to the States. People like Mario Boisjoli, Rich and Fliss
                             Sassela, Josette Conti, Dick Peiper, Donnie Bricker, Scott
                             Fischer and Pat Parrelli. It was great because I had seen
                             both East coast and West coast styles 5 years or so before
                             the two started to blend and we arrived at the modern style
                             of reining we have now".

                             Upon returning to Australia Rob became a board member of
                             NRHA Australia (Now Reining Australia)

Robs first break came when he found an old horse out in a paddock about a kilometre
from his home. "A local lady was selling a Quarter horse gelding that she had not ridden
in a few years. I went round to have a look as I had a client that was looking for a quiet
old horse. I rode him for a little while and he was going around like a big fat gelding, so it
was a bit hard to see if he could move at all. I asked him to stop and he really sat down.
I then asked him to turn around and he started to spin. So I parted with $500.00 and
rode him home". That horse was Walla Quarterback and he was on old cowhorse. "I'm
not sure who trained him in the beginning, but he did a great job. I tuned him up and
started showing him. He got me in the winning circle and taught me so much, he was a
great horse and was also a great non pro horse for a couple of people after that".

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                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

                        It was around this time that the Thomson family from Sydney
                        became clients of Rob's when daughter Melissa started coming
                        for lessons. After seeing some of the reining horses doing their
                        thing they decided to become involved in the sport. After buying
                        some horses and getting hooked, they decided to buy a futurity
                        horse. In the mean time Rob had been asked to start the horses
                        for the sale that Copper wood Ranch was having in Sydney. One
                        of the horses that Rob was preparing for the sale was Back in
                        Black, a two year old filly by Poco Peppy Doc. The Thomson's
                        bought Back in Black and Rob was entrusted with her training
                        through to the '93 Futurity. Another Poco Peppy Doc filly was
                        also bought by Farley Sherrot, another client of Robs, her name
                        was Lena Wayback who went on to became a lovely little Non
                        Pro horse and finally ended up with Dennis Rousell.
                        "Blackie was my first real attempt at training a futurity horse, I'd
played with a couple of my own, but they were not enough horse to take to the futurity.
Blackie was another story, she was so willing and tried everyday.

If something didn't go well one day you could
guarantee that the next she would try harder to
keep you happy" I took Blackie and Way back to
the Victorian Futurity to see how they were going
and placed well. Wayback developed a splint
straight after Victoria and had to be rested for a
month or so, so she was a little behind for the
rest of the year. Blackie placed well in
Queensland and won the NSW Futurity (at 2am,
that was one long day!)"

All was now ready for the National Futurity at horseworld in Sydney.
"I was president of the NRHA Australia (now RA) from '92 to '94 so here was Martin
Larcombe (vice president), Travis Humphries and myself putting up stalls, preparing the
arena, taking care of everyone arriving and trying to prepare horses all at the same time!
It was the first year that we had gone to Horseworld and we had to make sure that it
worked, as we had taken quite a risk to go there. We were working from 6am to 3am
trying to get everything done, that went on for a week. I remember that when the first
class started it was with a great sense of relief and everything went smoothly after that."

                                       The stage was now set for a great Futurity show.
                                       "Rick Tranter was the first person out on Watch
                                       me spin and he marked a 75, definitely setting the
                                       pace early on! Blackie and I ran a 73.5 in the first
                                       go so we were in contention". With the Futurity
                                       that year a composite score over two grounds,
                                       the race was on to catch Rick. "Rick ran a 73 in
                                       the 2nd Go and I came out and ran a 74.5 which
                                       tied us for first. NRHA rules state that a tied first
                                       place needs to be run off to determine the winner.
                                       Rick ran another 73 in the run off and I scored a
                                       72.5 with a one point lead change penalty." Back
in Black was 1993 RA reserve futurity champion.

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                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

After the Futurity the Thomson's bought Winderadeen Winter Rose and Yulgilbar
Gambling Girl. "Rosie was a sweet mare with a beautiful nature and she finaled in the
1995 Futurity.

"1996 was a busy year for us; we had Gambling girl and Hollywood Double bill getting
ready for the Futurity. We also had a strong group of Non Pros showing with Robyn
Burgin on her mare Billy, Mick Collins on Wally (Walla Quarterback) and Julie Read
riding Buster all vying for State and National titles in the Non pro classes."

The first big show of the year was the Victorian State show. Rob won the Futurity on
Hollywood Double bill owned by Annette and Bob Charter and Gambling Girl placed
further down the line. Robyn won the Ltd Non pro. "I remember that show really well as
Mick was winning the intermediate Non Pro class, half way through his bridle came
apart, Mick completed the run with out picking up the bridle and Wally was doing really
well, after the last stop Mick went to back up and lifting his hand discovered that the
bridle had come apart grabbed the reins with his other hand and scored a zero. Mick
hadn't realised that the bridle had come apart and panicked when his hand came up past
his ear! Old Wal would have backed up with out the bridle, it was just such a shock for
Mick, he acted instinctively."

The next big show was QRHA Futurity, Rodney Peachy won this one with Hollywood
Double Bill coming second and Gambling Girl coming third. Robyn won the ladies and
second in the Limited Non Pro.

                                     At the NSW Futurity Gambling Girl was starting to
                                     peak putting down a good run to tie with Rodney and
                                     went on to win after the run off. Double Bill came third
                                     and Robyn won the limited Non Pro.

                                  The next show was the big one, the RA Futurity.
                                  Gambling Girl put down some good runs to come
                                  equal first with Ian Francis riding Eyres Roc. In the
                                  run off Ian put down a good run. Rob however had a
                                  little bobble in the left spin loosing concentration
                                  resulting in 5 spins and
the reserve Futurity Champion. Robyn won the Limited Non
Pro and the Ladies. That year Robyn was NSW and RA high
point Ladies and Limited Non Pro.

After the Futurity Rob went to Texas to work with Jeff Petska
who was working at Carol Rose Quarter Horses. "This was a
really formative time for me as it was the first time that I saw
the blend of East and West coast styles and it really suited
me. I remember Jeff constantly telling me to sit back and
push. When I first saw Todd Bergen and John Slack show I
understood what Jeff was really getting at.

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                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

Rob returned home for Christmas and then headed off to Italy. "Dad was pretty sick at
this time, so I came back to spend Christmas with my family. Jeff had put me in contact
with Lucio Ferrarini so I headed over to work at Ferrarini Quarter Horses. I didn't speak a
word of Italian so it was a steep learning curve!"

Whilst there Rob showed a 4 year old colt by Pepper Pride call Pepper Fritz Bar and a
three year old colt by Gallo Del Cielo called Gallo San Badger.

“I got on well with Fritz, he had been trained by Scott Fischer to the Futurity the previous
year but had not finaled. I took him to a fourth place at the IRHA Derby behind David
Hansen and Todd Sommers, David was having a tremendous year in 1997 he was the
one to beat in Europe. We finaled in all the major events that year" (4).

"Gallo San Badger was a really cool horse, he was a typical Peppy San Badger. I had
ridden a few in Australia and liked them. He had a really deep stop, he didn't travel real
far but it was really gutsy. I was looking forward to showing him at the Italian Futurity but
three month out Lucio decided he was going to show him. I think he came fourth in the
Non Pro Futurity."

"At the Maturity that year which was held at La Peschiera Don Boyd approached me to
see if I knew someone who would be interested in working for Cisal Quarter Horses. We
rang Martin Larcombe that day and the next day he rang back to say yes, and the rest is

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                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

Rob returned to Australia in 1998 and bought "Curlewin". After a year and half
developing the property into a Horse training and breeding establishment, Rob was back
in the Futurity finals again riding Gary Whelan's RD Freckles Spinner. "Oakie was a real
character! He had a big stop and a good turn but you had to let him do his thing for the
first ten minutes each day, if you tried to train on him before he was ready he would not
be happy for the whole session. If you let him do his thing he would be really happy to
work for the rest of the session.

Oakie eventually finished fourth at 2000 RA Futurity. "Glen Browitt came up to me after
the show and said "I didn't think you were going to get that horse shown, I was watching
you ride him in the open pen before the finals and he looked like he was not listening"
That¹s exactly what I was doing, I just loped around letting him do his thing and then
when I walked into the pen to show he got in and got the job done!"

Also at the 2000 Futurity Rob bought Back in Black out of retirement to show her in the
open. "I showed her in a rommel, she dug really deep and almost left me behind a
couple of times! She marked a 75 to win the class - that was good fun".

The year 2000 was also the year of the Olympics and Rob was asked to be a member of
the team to do the demonstration at the Olympics. "That was another busy time as the
barn was going up and I was travelling back and forward to Cobbitty each day to train
with the team and then supervise the building. The Olympics was a really great time for
all of us. It's a pity that the ground was not suitable to show off the stopping ability of our
horses and that we had to work around the dressage arena but all in all it was worth

2001 brought Robs first foal crop to the show pen with Rosie’s and Blackie’s first babies
going to the Futurity.

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                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

Both 3 year olds were by Hollywood Double Bill.

                                                    Blackie’s baby was a bay filly called
                                                    Hollywoods Skiptyde (Bunny) with
                                                    Rosies being a chestnut gelding called
                                                    Hollywoods Little Pep (Goober).

                                                    Both horses placed well at the
                                                    NSWRHA Futurity with Bunny taking out
                                                    the first two gorounds at the RA Futurity
                                                    to lead going into the finals.

"Bunny is a really sweet mare that reminds me of her mother. Before I went over to Italy
in 2002 I did a demo at the Sydney dressage CDI at Horsley Park. Jose Mendez helped
me with a Doma Vaquero display, lent me a jacket, hat and music, the Malaga and I
made the Garrocha, the long pole used in Spanish and southern French Cattle work.

We went in cold, neither of us had been in that
Arena before. Bunny was great she handled
the atmosphere really well settling in almost
straight away. Towards the end of the display
we had to do two time changes down the
diagonal in time with the music, one hand on
the reins and the other holding the Garrocha in
the correct fashion. I was a little worried about
this part being in front of an educated crowd. I
need not have worried! She came around the
corner in perfect time and it was as though she
was listening to the music, 8 lead changes,
pop, pop, pop. That was really good fun!

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                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

                                                     Not long after this Rob was offered
                                                     the position of head trainer at GRC
                                                     horses in Bariano Italy. " I really
                                                     enjoyed working for Guiseppe
                                                     Corna, Lucio Zanardi was my
                                                     assistant trainer and he really helped
                                                     me settle in to living in Italy again.
                                                     An American guy had been working
                                                     there before me, Jason Richers. He
                                                     had been working a really cool Paint
                                                     gelding called Brigga For Money
                                                     (Clint). He was to be my Futurity
                                                     horse for that year. He had one of
the best turn arounds I have ever ridden. We fell into a hole on the second stop in the
Futurity final which dropped us to 4th place in the Open Futurity".

Also that year Rob competed in the Cow Horse
Futurity and Derby on Brigga Star. "She was a
really good cow horse, she could really rate a
cow well. We went to Augsburg in Germany for
Americana. They held the Cow horse futurity
there that year. We where leading the show after
marking 74 in the cutting. She had a really good
run in the reining phase until I forgot the last set
                                            of spins
                                            in a zero and elimination from the competition".
                                            "I was so disappointed, a really simple mistake,
                                            two of the cow horse patterns are identical
                                            except after the stops and spins one finishes
                                            with a back up and the other finishes with a
                                            back up and more spins. Of course with my
                                            reining background after I had finished with he
                                            first lot of spins, it went completely out of my
                                            head to do the last set."

After the cow horse futurity Rob went cutting on her
and was marking 71s with her in NCHA competition
with only 6 months training and most of that cow horse

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                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

The next year was IR Spring Slide's year to go to the Futurity. "Lucio had been riding
Generale in his two year old year and I started riding him this next year. Lucio had done
a fantastic job with Generale. He just melted into the ground when you said whoa."
Generale, owned by Liborio Nicotra was on track for the 2003 ANCR Futurity in

"That year Libo was campaigning Bumbala (pronounced Boombala) for the Coppa Della
Regione in the Rookies. He had a good year qualifying for Lombardia and taking out the
National Rookies title. Generale had a good first and second go at the Futurity, going
into the finals in second place. "I was second last horse out and went about my
preparation slowly. Generale never needed too long to get him ready to show. I,
however had not calculated on 30 minutes of speeches before the show started so I was
on him too long. He was a little too tired going into the pen". The paint Stallion put down
a creditable performance to come 7th out of the 30 horses in the finals and 105 horses
that competed in the open futurity over all.

2004 saw Rob move to La Pechiera QH's near Torino. Here
Rob finaled Bars Jacson Bo, the resident stallion in the 2nd
WRC 100,000 euro open event held in Mooslargue France.
"That was a big show, a whole lot of Americans came over
to compete for the World Championship that year. Old Bo
really stepped up to the plate! He was around 12 that year
and had been showed a lot in his career, we came equal
7th/ 8th at that show beating a lot of the Americans. Martin
won it on Oscar. He eventually went on to win the world
championship that year."

I also showed Generale in some of the big events that year
and finaled in everything we entered. At the Maturity Libo
started to show Generale in the Ltd and Int Non Pro classes, both IRHA (ANCR) and
NRHA. He did really well placing second at the Maturity and winning both classes at the
IRHA Futurity.

                                       Page 8 of 12
                The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

Also qualifying for the Coppa Della Regione that year was Tony Pascarella, Philippe
Errade and Allesandro Roasio with Philippe winning the limited Non Pro.

                                      Page 9 of 12
                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

2005 Rob had two good futurity horses Bolero Bo Sun and Bingo Bo Sun, both sons of
Bars Jacson Bo. Unfortunately 3 months out from the Futurity Bingo coliced, needing

"Bingo was really starting to hit his stride, he had had some difficulty getting his turn
around sorted out, he was just trying too hard. He was getting everything sorted out,
then he coliced. It was August and our surgeon was going on holiday for two weeks the
next day. He came in and performed the surgery and then flew out for his holiday! So
Bingo missed the Futurity." Rob finaled on Bolero and finished 10th.

2006 was to be Robs last year in Italy. With three promising Futurity horses, one a full
brother to Bolero, Flower Bo Sun and another a full brother to Bingo, Alle Bo Sun it was
shaping up to be a good year. However an untenable situation arose and Rob decided to
return to Australia. Alle Bo Sun went to Emiliano Perez who took him on to win the
APCR futurity 2006 and the 23 Classic in 2007. (Emi also took Bingo Bo Sun to second
place in the NRHA Bronze Trophy at the Challenge Futurity at La Peshiera in 2008
scoring a 225.5)

                                      Page 10 of 12
                 The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

                                    While Rob was in Italy Graham Cooper and his family
                                    had moved into "Curlewin" while they were building
                                    their new place in Bethungra.

                                    "Every Christmas I'd help Coop with his horses and I
                                    had a couple of Horses in training with him while I was
                                    overseas. When I came home it was only a month or
                                    so before the Australian Futurity. We started to get
                                    Coops horses ready for the futurity, one of which was
                                    Hollywoods Yellow Rose, a sweet palomino filly by
                                    Hollywood Double Bill and out of Winderadeen winter
                                    rose. She had won
                                    the limited open
                                    Futurity in
                                    Queensland and
                                    was looking good
                                    for the Futurity."

                                     "Coop had a
couple of bobbles in the first go of the Futurity and
we didn't make the cut, so we entered up in the
intermediate open and she came second in that

Rob and Graham continued to work together while
Graham was still at "Curlewin" and now that Graham
has moved to his new place they both meet up to
ride together regularly." Coop has a couple of really
nice horses for this years futurity so I am really
looking forward to seeing them go".

                                        Page 11 of 12
                The story of Rob Lawson and Lawson’s Performance Horses

Career highlights

1991 NSWRHA Futurity show Open Champion
1993 NSWRHA Futurity Champion
1993 RA Futurity Reserve Champion
1994 Ra Derby 4th place
1995 RA Futurity finalist
1996 VRHA Futurity Champion
1996 QRHA Futurity reserve Champion
1996 NSWRHA Futurity Champion
!996 RA Futurity Reserve Champion
1996 Co trainer of high priced 2 year old at NRHA Sale
1997 IRHA Derby 4th place
1997 IRHA Maturity Finalist
1997 WRC Open Finalist
1999 RA Futurity 4th place
1999 Equitana Demonstration team
2000 NSWRHA Open Champion
2000 Olympic Demonstration team
2001 NSWRHA Futurity Finalist
2001 RA Futurity Finalist
2001 Equitana Demonstration team
2002 Americana Open Finalist
2002 IPHA Futurity Champion
2002 APCR Futurity 4th Place
2002 IRHA Futurity 4th place
2003 IRHA Futurity 7th Place
2004 WRC Open Finalist
2004 IRHA Derby Finalist
2004 Challenge Open Finalist
2004 IRHA Maturity Finalist
2005 APCR Futurity Finalist
2005 IRHA Futurity Finalist
2006 IRHA Derby Finalist
2006 IRHA 4 year old Futurity

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