On The Trail with L.A. Waters Quarter Horses & The Outhier Family
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Mike and Kristy Outhier are continuing the brand that Kristy’s parents began – LA Waters Quarter Horses. “My dad (Lou Waters) put himself through college as a cotton farmer,” said Kristy. “When they moved to Boston, mom (Wanda) helped put him through business school – they had a $20 per week budget for groceries.” The goal was to buy a ranch in Texas and thanks to smart business decisions and a horse named Colonel Freckles, the dream came true. “They had instincts about him – and did lots of research – they bought Colonel Freckles as a young stud and promoted him.” Between his successful business ventures and Colonel Freckles, they were able to build a breeding facility on a 300 acre facility near Houston. “Dad was the backbone and master mind, but mom was the wind beneath the wings, did all the paperwork, and helped pick the crosses that they bred to.” Mike and Kristy are running LA Waters with a stallion, Wild Card Dunnit, that they raised and campaigned. “We won the AQHA Junior Horse of the year in all the roping events in 2006.”
Kristy grew up in the horse world, involved in AQHA and cutting, but left that behind when she found polo. “I fell head over heels in that, and went on to Texas AM intercollegiate polo.” After college, she worked for a year, and got hired to play polo professionally. “I spent 5 years hauling – three months at a time, playing across the United States.” For Kristy, polo was the best of sports – it incorporated her love of horses, which she trained, to her passion for competing. “To have a sport with a ball in the competition – all that goes into your strategy on the field, and then it’s multiplied by your horse and horsemanship. It’s like driving race cars – if you’re good at it, you still have to have a good car.”
She was competing in Calgary Canada when she met Mike – both in their 20s. “I didn’t know a thing about rodeo, except it existed and here comes this guy.” Mike was traveling with a friend of his (Johnny Pollock) and his wife (Tori) introduced them. “He stopped by the barn while I was riding one of my ten horses. He offered to jump on one of my horses, English saddle and all. Away we went, and four months later we were engaged.”
She continued playing polo and Mike kept rodeoing. “I would go somewhere riding 18 hours a day – it wasn’t glorious. Mike would fly in when he could.” She took time off when their oldest, Madison, was born, but went back to polo shortly after. “I was out of the country a lot; England, Argentina, and other countries, and that was hard on the family.” Madi watched her play on the US Team in the Queen’s Cup last year in England. She played her last polo match last year, retiring to stay home with her family and help Mike with the horses that they train and sell.
Mike started competing at the age of 7. His dad (Milburn) was an IPRA bareback riding champion, and Mike was born into the rodeo world. “I remember going to the rodeos with my dad,” said Mike. “I’d be behind the chutes, rosin in hand. I was always around the chutes. I craved it my whole life.” His dad taught him how to do all the events – having competed in them himself. “All week we rode outside horses for other people, and then go rodeo on the weekend.” He had two younger sisters (Lynnsi and Amy) who started rodeoing when they got older. When he started entering the junior rodeos and high school, his mom (Deena) and grandpa (John Salsbury) would haul him. Mike competed in both ends of the arena, bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding, calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and steer roping. He was also a four time IFYR All Around Cowboy (1993, 94, 95, 96). Mike entered his first IPRA at the age of 15 and went to the IFR, winning the All Around in 1995, 1996, and 1997. He is a pro rodeo cowboy in the NFR as well as the IPRA. From Oklahoma, Mike was the PRCA Resistol Saddle Bronc Riding Rookie of the Year in1998. He made four appearances in the NFR, 2001 – 2004, competing in saddle bronc riding. He won the PRCA Linderman Award twice; 2004 and 2007. Most recently, he was inducted into the International Finals Youth Rodeo (IFYR) Hall of Fame in 2007.
He finished his strongest NFR ever in 2004 and started off 2005 winning many of the major rodeos in Bronc riding. He was in the top 5 in the world standings going into the big summer run. He and his traveling partner, Taos Muncy, had to rent a jet to make it to several rodeos in a few day stretch. The two were up at Window Rock, Arizona with a huge week ahead of them when time stopped for Mike. He finished a picture perfect ride and hit the ground right after the whistle, when a pick up man ran smooth over Mike crashing him head on with the chest of his horse at full speed. Mike had to be carried out of the arena and put in an ambulance straight to the hospital. When he came to, he never regained full use of his left shoulder, his riding arm. After months of doctors and studies it was known that the blow had damaged all the nerves that attach the neck and shoulder. It was devastating to Mike and Kristy, as their lives suddenly changed. “Both of us have battled injuries and we always bounced back. Every time it just brought us closer and you learn to really appreciate each other when you are down physically.”
He rode a bronc last year, and still competes in team roping and steer roping, but has concentrated his time on training horses and coaching his two children as well as many others in rodeo.
Madison, Madi, is 16 and competes in all the events. She went to every NFR since she was born and by the time she was four, she was riding around the barrels on her own. “Her biggest love in life is roping, and she just completed her best year as a breakaway roper,” said Kristy. Between rodeo and school, she works hard to be at the top of her game. She is an AP student, taking a full load at school. “She is so much like her dad, but she also has varsity basketball, and of course, she got into polo big time – there’s not enough hours in the day.” Madi competes in the Texas High School Rodeo, TYRA, and YRA. She is headed to her third year at the Junior NFR, competing in breakaway. Her rope horse was raised and trained on the ranch and her barrel and pole horses were bought as yearlings by Mike’s father – they are now 22 and 15. They are working on young ones for Madi as she progresses in rodeo.
She learned rodeo from her dad. “He’s really taught me how to be a humble winner and never take winning for granted. Just because you have a winning day doesn’t mean you always will. He’s been my only mentor in breakaway and I’ve had a bunch of success in that and I owe all of that to him.” Last year she won the Junior NFR in Vegas in the breakaway, also the Cody Ohl’s 15 and under and the Joe Beaver. ”I definitely thank my mom and dad – anywhere I want to go, they take me.”
Her younger brother, Ace, is five years younger, 11, and rides well but his passion is sports and fishing. “Ace is our bigtime fisherman,” said Kristy. “He just won 3rd runner up in his first ever state wide fishing tournament this year. He has the talent of a professional fisherman and has the passion for it.”
Mike and Kristy head to the “office” every day – the barn – riding and training anywhere from ten to 20 horses each day. The foals start selling from their yearling year through to the two-year-olds that Mike has started. “We keep one or two,” said Kristy.
Along with the performance horses, Mike raises bucking horses. “I used to wait for my folks to leave and buck all the steers at the house – I like the idea of being a stock contractor and messing with livestock.” He bought his first set of horses at the IFR Bucking Horse Sale in 1996. “I liked to have them around to buck.” He sold them, and three years later, he found some good blood from Ike Sankey, and started again. “I had some stock contractors take a chance on me and buy some of my horses. I raise them until they are three, after they’ve been dummied twice and ridden once. We take them to our family annual ranch rodeo, the Utopia Ranch Rodeo – which has been going on for 16 years.” The town of Utopia has gotten behind the event and with a crowd of more than 1,000 watching the Memorial Day event. The horses head to pasture for the summer and in the fall, they sell them all. Stace Smith, Pete Carr, Scottie Lovelace, and HiLo Rodeo have all bought horses from Mike. “Several of my horses have been to the NFR – Betty Boop, ridden by Tim O’Connell won a round last year. Sweet Maria has been high mark horse of the night. It’s been crazy – one year Raised the calf horse, sold him to my buddy who rode him at the NFR, plus I had bucking horses there as well. That’s pretty cool.”
From bucking horses to performance horses, from polo to fishing – the Outhier family is on the go. “I couldn’t be happier to be building a breeding program and helping my kids succeed,” concludes Kristy. “I feel so lucky to have a great man at home and a great family and life ahead!”