Bartlett, Neb., cowgirl starts horse breeding, training enterprise |

Bartlett, Neb., cowgirl starts horse breeding, training enterprise

Talli Porkorny competes in the breakaway roping in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association on one of her horses, Diamond. Pokorny is in the broodmare business and has a foal, Topaz, born this spring who is a full sister to Diamond. Photo by Jill Saults

Bartlett, Neb. — Even though she’s still in high school, Talli Pokorny has a start on a future career.

The 17-year-old cowgirl is beginning her own business, raising and training horses.

She got her start when one of her rodeo horses got hurt. Sally, her barrel racing horse in junior high, wasn’t able to compete anymore, so Talli decided to breed her.

Then Talli, who is a barrel racer, goat tyer, breakaway roper and team roper in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association, bought another horse, Diamond, as a three-year-old. She put the training on Diamond, and now, three years later, the horse serves as her breakaway and team roping horse. Diamond was purchased from a good friend, Brady Wakefield.

But Talli, who loved Diamond’s skills, wanted another horse. So she partnered with Brady’s dad, Jim Wakefield, to buy Diamond’s mom, Nikki.

Her broodmare business began in earnest. Sally had a foal, Royal, last spring, and Nikki, who was with foal when she was purchased, had another foal last month. Diamond and Nikki’s newest colt, Topaz, are full sisters.

Talli bought the horses with her own money, earned from the cows she owns and runs with her dad’s herd. She also pays for feed and veterinarian services, not with cash but by “labor exchange” — working for her parents on their ranch 12 miles north of Bartlett, Neb.

After her first mare, Sally, was bred, Talli became more intrigued with the business.

“I really like the broodmare part of the industry,” she said. “I’m really interested in horses. It’s kind of my passion. The first time (with the mare and foal) was an experiment, and I decided I really liked it.”

She has plans for the colts, and will do the training herself. Royal, who is a one year old, was halter-broke within a week. Next year, she’ll break him, then turn him out to pasture for a few months. Then, in the fall, she’ll begin to train him for a rodeo event. She hopes he shows an inclination for barrel racing. If not, she’ll train him for the roping events.

One of the facets Talli enjoys is facilitating the whole process of horses, from birth through training. “I like raising my own horses, and getting to train them yourself and getting to use them (in rodeo).”

Talli was selective in who the mares were bred to. Royal is out of Royal Blue Quixote, owned by the Pitzer Ranch of Ericson, Neb. She chose the stud because he’s quick on his feet, thick and stout. Diamond and Topaz are out of Niobrara Rocket, owned by Rick and Missy Weber of Valentine, Neb.

Talli didn’t get a chance to see Topaz be born. She was in school on the day Nikki foaled, but her dad noticed the mare in the lot and put her and her newly born baby in the barn.

Talli not only paid for the horses and the stud fees, but does her own chores. She is in the barn at 6 a.m. on school mornings feeding, and she doesn’t need to be reminded, her mom said.

“She knows what needs to be done and she does it. We’ve never once made her or told her. It was something she wanted to do,” Brandi Pokorny said.

And Talli is learning that bad things can happen quite quickly in the livestock business. Nikki the mare had a retained placenta when she gave birth to Topaz, which caused her to founder. She won’t be able to be bred anymore. She is 20 years old, so the loss isn’t as significant, but it’s still a loss.

“You just have to take the highs with the lows,” Talli said. “You have to be able to take a loss.”

It’s also taught her patience. The timeline can’t be hurried with animals.

“Patience is the big thing,” Brandi said. Breeding and training horses “is a long process. But she thoroughly enjoys it.”

Talli hopes it may lead to a future career. She is finishing her junior year at Wheeler Central High School in Bartlett and plans on majoring in animal science with an equine emphasis in college. She’d like to raise and train horses after college, as well.

Four of the five horses are registered with the American Quarter Horse Association. Sally, a 15-year-old buckskin, is Id B A Princess; Nikki is HLC Smooth Nikki, Diamond is CD Smooth Rocket, and Royal is ID B Royal. Topaz hasn’t been registered yet.

In school, Talli is on the honor roll, a member of the National Honor Society and treasurer for her school’s FFA chapter. She has qualified for the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo each of the past two years and is on track to compete there again this June.

She has two younger siblings: Gracie, who is 15, and Ryder, age 10. Her dad, Doug Pokorny, rounds out the family.

The Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo will be held in Hastings at the Adams Co. Fairgrounds June 15-17. Tickets are $7 for everyone ages five and up and are available through the office and at the gate. For more information, visit or, or call 402.462.3247. F

–Adams County Ag Society

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