Cutting for sport and collecting for memories, Santa Fe horseman’s home is a tribute to Western life
The first word Trent Bailey ever spoke was “horse.” And there was rarely a time in Bailey’s life when he wasn’t thinking about horses, he said. He still has the old stick horse he rode around on as a child — it’s tucked inside the bottom of a coat rack among bridles and halters in his living room.
His home in Santa Fe, secluded on 6 rural acres, houses a collection of everything Western that defines him.
After spending most of his life showing Western pleasure, Bailey now competes in National Cutting Horse Association-sanctioned shows with his cutting horse Bet She’s Sophisticated — making this his third time to compete in the association’s cutting competition at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
“I started out showing horses in the 4-H organization,” Bailey said. “As a youth, I showed quarter horses and Arabians, and in my early twenties, I showed American paints. As an adult, I gained several top 10 world titles in the amateur Western pleasure division, but I decided to sell my last pleasure horse in 2013 and bought my first cutting horse.”
The interior of Bailey’s home is a tribute to the cowboy life. The majority of his furnishings have a Western theme, but it’s his collection of boots, spurs, spur straps, bridles, halters, stirrups, belt buckles, hats and prizes from competitions that stand out. There’s also memorabilia, like his father’s saddle and boots, as well as two saddles that belonged to Bailey’s good friend, Faith Sladek, a well-known Dickinson horsewoman.
“My dad’s boots were the first pair I remember seeing as a kid,” Bailey said. “I used to put them on and try to wear them. Every year for my birthday, I got a new pair of boots.”
Bailey’s main claim to collectible fame is obviously his 15 pair of boots that include brands like Lucchese, Tony Lama, Justin, Ariat, Anderson Bean, Stetson, Twisted X and one pair of English riding boots.
“I had another 10 pair that got damaged during Harvey,” Bailey said. “They were in boxes in my garage, plus I’ve donated over 20 pairs of boots over the years to the Sunshine Kids, a charity for children with cancer. Some were used as table arrangements for their fundraising event.”
Bailey also owns five pairs of chaps, three custom-made hats by Shorty’s Caboy Hattery in Oklahoma City, awards in the form of ribbons, buckles, spurs, trophies and statues. But he is most proud of the Jim Reno bronze sculpture of Robert Kleberg Jr., who owned the King Ranch in South Texas. Kleberg, who died in 1974, was a well-known cutting horse trainer, and Reno’s sculptures are prized among collectors.
Bailey’s cutting horse, nicknamed Mercy, is a 5-year-old red roan mare that spends the majority of her time in Hempstead with a trainer.
Because Bailey also works as a division manager for Homeland Title Company-Houston, he stays busy.
“With work and travel, it’s best to have the horse with a trainer,” he said. “The trainer keeps her in shape and on cows.”
Bailey’s very first saddle is bright red and sits above a shelf in the living room. It’s a reminder of his younger days and subsequent lessons learned from his father.
“When I was a kid living with my mother, she wasn’t fond of horses,” Bailey said. “So, in high school, I moved in with my dad, who made a commitment to me that he would invest in my expensive hobby, but as I got older, he taught me how to be on my own. He would be proud of my Sean Ryon cutting saddle.”
Also displayed around Bailey’s home is his grandfather’s branding iron, lasso ropes, an old wean halter and other reminders of long-ago ranch life.
“Most of that stuff came out of my grandfather’s log cabin,” Bailey said. “It brings back good memories.”