By Linda White
Our gifts make us unique among animals:
not just figures in the landscape, but shapers of the landscape.
- Jacob Bronowski
In 2014 alone, their talent and unswerving dedication to their mission yielded 26 national titles, not to mention the dozens of championships and Regional honors earned by their horses and clients of all ages. Those 2014 national honors were won at two of the Arabian horse industry’s three courts of final judgment: the U.S. and Youth Nationals Championships. At the Canadian National Championships, third rung on the breed’s ladder of success, RBC Show Horses and the RBC clients have accounted for many more national championships, reserve national championships and Top 10s.
RBC goes to the Region 12, Region 14 and several other Regional shows; the above-named national
“We complement each other,” states Schroter, adding, “Our horses have won national honors in 11 different divisions.”
“Neither of us can imagine training alone anymore,” her husband tells us. “We work as a team with the horses, and with our clients, doing whatever best suits each horse, and each individual. And, because our vision is the same, we can objectively critique one another’s work in various divisions.”
Both grew up on dairy farms: she, in Edmonton, Alberta, and he, in Montana. Ironically, both started with Shetland ponies... “And we trained them to perform!” marvels Bick, amazed even now. (Note: Shetlands are notoriously crafty, and love to outwit their human masters. An old axiom suggests that dogs have owners; cats have staff. Think of Shetlands as cats in wolves’ horses’ clothing.)
Caralyn used to ride her Shetland pony a 2-mile round trip for riding lessons. “My mother’s brother, Leonard Solomon, had Arabians, so I was exposed to the breed early,” she explains. “He helped us find our first Arabian, and my parents hauled me and my horse around to small shows. Mother was a registered nurse. She wanted me to become a nurse, but I was always drawn to the horses. When I graduated from high school, I went to work for Pam Zimmerman, and then, for Mike Whelihan, and discovered that I had a God-given gift for training horses. I also rode hunters and Thoroughbreds, but the Arabians were so much more appealing. They are more sensitive and intelligent, much more people-oriented than other breeds … and so beautiful!”
“When I was 12, Dad sold the dairy farm and bought a couple of Arabian mares, and the *Bask son, Portneuf Bask to breed, and I showed him,” Bick remembers. “He was an English pleasure horse, Lasma-trained, but I rode western, so I tried to show him western- unsuccessfully. I was too young and inexperienced to know better, but that’s probably when I began to understand about letting the horse tell me what he wants to do.
“In 1993, Ray called to tell me that the girl who had been working for him for the last three years was leaving, and would I consider coming back to work for him?” He grins. “Since she was leaving anyway, I hired her myself.” The girl, of course, was Caralyn Schroter, and when she came to Pacific Park, the two realized immediately that this was going to be a true partnership. Somehow, the confluence of their lives seemed providential.
“We had similar backgrounds, but that was only part of it,” says Bick. “We realized that we both understand the horses on an intuitive level, and can connect with them; we understand how they think. We believe in letting the horses tell us what they could do best, what makes them happy.” Bick and Schroter connected, too, both professionally and personally. They were married in 1995.
One year later, Dr. De Carol Williamson called and asked them to come to Dolorosa Arabians, in
Rob first showed DA Valentino to 2004 Region 12 Yearling Sweepstakes Champion honors. Sold to Indiana breeders Dan and Maureen Grossman, DA Valentino went on to become the most decorated halter stallion in Arabian breed history. “We helped the Williamsons make breeding selections,” says Caralyn. “We would raise the babies, train them, and then win with them. Those years were very satisfying.”
After more than 11 years at Dolorosa, Bick and Schroter decided to implement an idea they had been formulating for years: to have their own breeding, training and show facility. They found a 14-acre property in Smithfield, North Carolina, half an hour southeast of Raleigh that perfectly suited their needs, and moved into the former reining horse facility in November 2007. RBC Show Horses is a quiet, secluded farm boasting a 40-stall barn, covered arena, walker, bullpen and turnouts. The property’s 300’ by 200’ outdoor training track is ideal for legging up performance and halter horses. The couple’s home is 200 yards from the barn!
Year after year, they keep producing champions and national performance and halter winners. Clearly, they’re doing something right. Is there a particular philosophy or methodology that accounts for their success?
“Happy horses,” says Bick. “We have happy, willing performers who get a whole lot more than the 45 minutes a day they’re being trained. Because there are 23 more hours in their days, we give them clean, airy, comfortable, roomy stalls, which are always kept well-bedded. Each stall has a window for them to look out, and we give them toys, or whatever is appropriate, for each horse. We want horses that come to the front of the stall to greet us when Caralyn or I come into the barn in the morning!
“We also have good, kind, reliable help who have the same objectives we do: happy, well cared-for horses. The horses’ wellbeing is everyone’s first priority.” The RBC team also includes assistant trainer Grant Krohn, and Janie Wasilewski, who heads up marketing and public relations.
Do Bick and Schroter have a formula for selecting and developing a prospect? “We look for a horse with balance, flexibility and quality,” Bick offers. “It’s great when a client says, ‘Find me a horse that…,’ but we evaluate each horse people bring us, and train that horse accordingly. Breeders are increasingly making breeding decisions based on specialization, so we now have many bloodlines that are specific to particular disciplines.”
In addition to the open, amateur and youth horses RBC has in training, they stand PA Kid Khan, Frank and Sarah Chisholm’s twice U.S. Top 10 Western Pleasure, Junior Horse with Rob Bick; and Possesion PGA, a many-time Regional champion and 2014 U.S. Top 10 Arabian Western Pleasure, AAOTR 36-54 Champion, owned by Frank Chisholm and Steve Doulaveris.
Their education and outreach efforts extend to the non-horse owning public, as well. They often invite classes from local schools and 4-H clubs to the farm, and RBC Show Horses regularly appears on Carolina Hoofbeats, a local television show that is also a magazine.
Caralyn sums up their philosophy: “The best we can do is the least we can do.”