He was not very fast on the race track, but plenty fast in the career that followed. He had a short, unspectacular first career, but has had an exceptionally long and illustrious second one. He was bred by Canterbury Park Hall of Fame breeder Bob Morehouse. He was owned and raced in partnership by Hall of Fame owners Paul Knapper and Bobbi Morehouse.
He is Silver Visions, a racetrack failure at two, a champion barrel horse at 25.
He is known as simply Silver around the barn. He’s worth his weight in gold in the rodeo ring. He was born in 1985, the year that Canterbury Downs arrived. He arrived at the track himself in 1987.
He didn’t stay long. Three starts and it was clear that Silver Visions needed a different line of work.
Silver Visions lasted only an eyeblink in the racing business. He is still going strong at 27 in the barrel-racing business. After leaving Canterbury, Silver Visions began to prove his worth. He became a useful horse. He did team penning at one time. He’s been used in match races. He is sure-footed and confident on a trail, can do some dressage if asked, but it is his passion – trying to shave the barrels and keep them standing – at which he truly excels.
He is a son of Bob Morehouse’s Jet A Van from the mare Mam’s Bam, a throwback to a time gone by, to an era of quarter horse racing that is now part of Minnesota’s racing past. Not many horses enjoy this kind of longevity, much less this kind of productivity.
To the best of Paul Knapper’s memory, the original partnership in Silver Visions also included Lori Locken, in her first horse; Paul’s grandmother, Violet Scharfe and his mother and father, Beverly and Curtis. Their trainer was the redoubtable Joe Merrick.
Jodi (Wyoke) Lee started Silver’s barrel racing career, an impressive one at that. He has won trophies for the past two decades and was named Minnesota Barrel Racing Horse of the Year in 2010 and inducted into its Hall of Fame at 25 years of age.
Erin Bayer has owned Silver Visions since 1997. When Jodi needed money for college, she sold the gelding to a friend of Erin’s parents. It was through that friend that Erin became enthralled with the horse at age 16. “I saved up half the money and my parents traded him a mare for the other half,” she recalled. Silver Session was hers.
Although she picked up immediately where Jodi had started the horse, on the barrels, Erin also competed with Silver in pole events and timed games, and a multitude of other activities.
“My husband and I have taken him trail riding in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I did some team penning with him, too,” Erin added. “But the barrels were definitely his best event, right from the start.”
Erin has used Silver to teach barrel racing to students the last few years, and the grey gelding has competed with Allison Oschwald and Bailey Tyson of Monticello. However, no one has been on his back in the arena more often than Erin’s 11-year-old niece, Maddy Ritter.
“He’s very laid back but he always tries. He loves his job and has never refused the gate to make a run,” she added. “Maddy can ride him bareback with a halter and lead rope.”
Bayer gets compliments routinely on how good Silver looks for his age, how well he still performs. “People tell me all the time that he doesn’t look his age. He still competes in the top two divisions when he races. He still acts and feels 10 years old.”
Of course, he is treated with kid gloves. His age is taken into consideration. “We pick and choose our spots for him, when he’ll compete,” Erin added.”And we make sure he gets all of the necessary supplements.”
Becky Boll is a daughter to the late Bob Morehouse. She got a call from Erin’s husband, Grant, one year. He was trying to put together a photo montage of Silver’s early years as a surprise birthday gift for his wife.
“He wanted pictures of Silver when he was a foal, when he was young,” she recalled. “I came up with some pictures for the montage. Erin and I have been friends ever since.”
So, Silver Visions has that talent, too, an ability to bring people together. No wonder Erin has a note on her website, at the bottom of a long list of Silver’s accomplishments.
It says simply, “Not for Sale.”
This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.