By Sue Moore
The love of horses is “in the blood,” says Shawn Fritz of Fulton. She and her family recently launched a new horse barn to house over 30 horses.
“I’ve never been without a horse,” Fritz explains. “If I’m having my worst day ever, riding takes it all away, unless my horse gets naughty,” she chuckles. “My horse can even read my mind. Perhaps it’s the subconscious way I move my body; I just know he senses my mood.” Fritz often participates in quarter horse Foundation shows around the area.
Fritz’ twin daughters, Betsy Barrett and Becky Barton, age 26, got their first pony at age three and, along with their younger sister Sammi, age 11, now have 20 horses of their own. Sammi’s twin brother, Jon Paul, raises goats rather than horses. Their dad, Ben Fritz, mentioned in passing a year or so ago, that perhaps they should start making money with their passion for horses. Now they have built a stable and indoor arena on the historic Fritz family property at 1428 S. 38th Street. Becky lives in the farmhouse and cares full time for the horses. Betsy has a nine month-old infant, but doesn’t live far away and usually gets to the barn every day to help.
Becky Barton’s passion is barrel racing. Several of her horses are specifically trained for this event, and she spends almost every weekend at rodeos all over the U.S. “Barrel racing is a rush,” Barton says. “I train my own horses to keep them in shape. If you work them too much, they sour. You can practice too much.”
The family owns a race horse, Jettastic, who is trained by Tony Cunningham in Clarksville, Michigan. Every weekend, Tony has taken Jettastic to races in Shelbyville, Indiana, with good success. Thus far, the horse has claimed $20,000 in purses and will be racing for the big one – $100,000 – in October, Fritz says. “Becky has the ability to pick out a good horse without even seeing it,” says Fritz. “It’s intuitive for her. The last one they bought in a claiming race turned out to be a big winner for Barton,” according to her mom.
The Fritzes house brood mares, a stallion and a gelding. Barton points out that, because horses are very much herd animals, the gelding, for example, will develop colic if taken away from the others in his pasture. “I love the young horses, as they are so much more accomplished. I bring the ones I ride inside for the night and feed them grain and hay, their main source of energy. We definitely spoil them with a veterinarian, a dentist, and a chiropractor on call. We are looking for 11 boarders in early fall, as soon as the pastures are ready.”
Between the twins and Fritz, the family is now up to 38 horses, having started this winning tradition in local, then state, 4-H shows. Now, it’s off to the big time – racing! “Some horses just like to run,” Barton observes, “It has to be in their heart.”