Heule Reining Horses
As a lifelong equine enthusiast Hubert Heule has been involved in the reining horse industry for more than 20 years and spans 3 continents. His experience and expertise comes from thousands of hours in the saddle and in the arena training horses and students. With a background of operating equestrian training/breeding facilities in Europe and South America, Hubert has been an equine professional most of his life. He has trained horses and riders with consistent results, as well as managed the careers of top stallions Arc Gunnabebabigstar, Steppin On Sparks and Whiz Gata Prize. Hubert currently operates Heule Reining Horses, LLC in Pilot Point, Texas where he offers to the public world class reining training, equine management, marketing, sales, clinics and stallion representation.
- National Reining Horse Association Judge
- Reining Horse Trainer
- Speaks fluent English, French, Dutch and Spanish
- International Broker
- Experienced equine manager
2019: Qualified Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show Senior Reining
2019: Official Judge Victorian Reining Horse Association Derby
2018: Team Netherlands member for 2018 World Equestrian Games (placed 9th overall)
2018: Official Judge GVRHA Buckle Up & Slide in Tatura Australia
2018: Arc Gunnabeabigstar (2011 stallion managed by Hubert) achieved +$309,000 LTE
2018: Hamilton Stamped Show Limited Open Champion
2017: Mr Masota Star (2014 stallion trained and managed by Hubert, owned by George & Carol Bell) acheived $73,554 and tied for third in the Level 4 Open ridden by Shawn Flarida
2017: Earned NRHA Judges Card
2015: Steppin On Sparks (2009 stallion managed by Hubert) achieved +$108,048 LTE
2014: Arc Gunnabeabigstar (2011 stallion managed by Hubert/owned by HDC Quarter Horses) NRHA Open Futurity Co Champion
2014: Achieved NRHA #1 Owner as manager of HDC Quarter Horses
2013: Grande Champion Nuestros Caballos Argentina
2006 NRHA France Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion
2007 All American Quarter Horse Congress NRHA Limited Open Champion
2007 FEI World Reining Masters Team Netherlands Placing 5th
2009 2 x NRHA Derby Limited Open Anc. Champion
2009 CS Slide Swiss Limited Open Reserve Champion
2009 Qualified for the American Quarter Horse World Show Jr. Reining
2009 Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity Finalist (4th place)
2010 World Equestrian Games Represented The Netherlands and qualified for the Individual Finals
2010 A Ruf Mistress Limited Open Champion
2011 Grande Champion Nuestros Caballos Argentina
2012 Grande Champion Nuestros Caballos Argentina
2012 Steppin On Sparks (2009 stallion managed by Hubert and owned by HDC Quarter Horses) NRHA Open Futurity 7th place
2013 Grande Champion Nuestros Caballos Argentina
2014 Achieved NRHA #1 Owner as manager of HDC Quarter Horses
2014 Arc Gunnabeabigstar (2011 stallion managed by Hubert and owned by HDC Quarter Horses) NRHA Open Futurity Co Champion
2015 Steppin On Sparks (2009 stallion managed by Hubert and owned by HDC Quarter Horses) achieved +$108,048 in Lifetime earnings
Published November 15, 2018
Hubert Heule is best known for his training, marketing and management services after a long partnership with HDC Quarter Horses. Responsible for the management of ARC Gunnabeabigstar and Steppin On Sparks — his path to reining started, in his words, with a bit of luck.
“I was 12 years old and we moved to the countryside in Belgium,” said Heule. “My father bought a ranch, and we needed a horse. I got lucky.”
Although he was training in English riding, he remembers him and his sister begging their uncle to get them a ‘cowboy horse. A dark palomino Quarter Horse came into their life that was the very opposite of the easy to ride ‘cowboy horse’ that they had hoped for.
Heule started taking lessons at Rawhide Ranch, with Ann Fonck’s sister, Christel Poels. Western pleasure lessons led to reining and eventually a decision to head to the United States.
“I was really hooked even though at the beginning I didn’t like it,” he said. “I threw my school books in the corner and spent the summer with horses. I wasn’t a great student because I was always with horses.
“In 1999 my dad said if I didn’t put in effort at school, I could go to the United States and work on a ranch. I had an offer to clean stalls but I happened to visit Babcock Ranch and they asked if I wanted a job riding 2 year olds — and I decided on that over cleaning stalls.”
With the support of his father, Heule rode at Babcock Ranch for six months and returned home to Belguim, still dreaming of his time in the U.S.
“At 18 I thought I had it figured out,” he said. “We found a place in South France with a restaurant and hotel for my parents’ business, and there was a horse facility for me to operate. We imported horses including a stallion named Shining Fox. For 7 years we raised nice horses that made European finals.”
Although his dreams were coming true one step at a time, admittedly, it was more challenging than he expected.
“Being out there by myself every day it was a lot harder than I thought it would be,” he said. “I got the horses to do cool stuff, but it was hard to be successful. I got to know everyone in the industry and had to learn French. The business was hard — selling horses and making money was tough because the industry wasn’t as evolved in France as it is now.”
Heule found himself needing extra support when he had issues with horses, so he sold everything, packed his bags, and came back to the U.S. in 2007 to continue his education working now with Bob Santagata at Santa Hill Ranch.
“He [Santagata] gave me nice horses to show,” said Heule. “I won the Limited Open at the Quarter Horse Congress and qualified for FEI reining masters in OKC for the Netherlands. I stayed a year at Bob’s and had a lot of good horses to show but I decided I needed to be in Texas where everything was going on.”
Heule began working with NRHA Professional Brent Loseke at Green Valley Ranch and was with him for over three years. It was this experience that sparked his passion of working with 2-year-old prospects and he realized the importance of having that strong foundation.
“HDC Quarter Horses showed up at Green Valley Ranch and bought three horses and took them to Argentina while I was in Europe. A few weeks later they called Brent and asked him to show the horses, so he asked if I wanted to show them in Argentina. During my time there they bought a horse for me to show at the [NRHA] futurity.”
Martin Crupi, owner of HDC Quarter Horses, remembers the exact day Heule showed up at HDC headquarters.
“Hubert decided to quit everything and come to Argentina to live two years after he met us, he came with his wife pregnant,” said Crupi. “They made the decision to come to live at a country that they almost did not know just because they trust us. With the only intention to push HDC forward and share our passion and friendship. From the very beginning, he has been the one pushing really hard between every step forward we took. As we say for ourselves he is all accelerator! He has been the one designing the strategies to try to push HDC QH to the place where it is today.”
HDC began to look for a Level 4 NRHA Futurity prospect and put their faith in Heule to find the perfect fit. Although there was an immense amount of pressure to find a horse that could also succeed in halter classes in Buenos Aires, they eventually found Steppin On Sparks (Jacs Electric Spark x Mahoganys First Step) after a two-week search in multiple states.
“We went to the NRHA Futurity and I made a joke about buying a Wimpys Little Chic if I made the finals,” said Heule. “At the NRHA Yearling Select sale we saw ARC Gunnabeabigstar (Gunnatrashya x Wimpys Little Chic). He was bred the best of any horse but didn’t look like a lot. Physically he didn’t look like the rest of them, but if he had the heart of his mother, I knew we had something. We bought him and sent him to Brent [Loseke], I knew he would take his time and let the horse take his time to get stronger. Brent wasn’t super enthusiastic about him at first, but six months later he said felt something he had never felt before – the horse was special.”
After three years in Argentina, the stallions were in training with NRHA Professional Jordan Larson and Heule decided to go back to the U.S. His parents had opened a gelato store in Charleston, SC and he thought it may be a good time in his career to try a business career rather than be a horse trainer. After six months in Europe waiting to get the right visa, he and his wife bought the second store in the gelato franchise started by his father.
“The first two years were awesome, and we had good business and opened another store,” said Heule. “In the meantime, Big Star won the futurity. HDC came back to me and asked if I wanted to help promote the stallions and help manage their breeding careers and I thought I could do it on the side. I took control of Big Star and Steppin on Sparks and promoted them to get their foals on the ground. I used the contacts I had all over the world and after a year I found myself in a position where those horses got to me again. I was dreaming about training horses. My heart had gone back to the horses and my wife saw that too.
“Those years were complicated but also I think among those years we all made the promise to ourselves to remain together and make it work whatever it takes,” said Crupi. “None of us wanted to get rid of the fun and the joy that for us was to be all around horses and together. There is a lot of love and friendship in the presence of HDC QH, we all went far and beyond and made a lot of sacrifices to remain together. For us here in Argentina, it would have been impossible to achieve what we achieved without Hubert there in the states.”
Heule realized he needed to get back into horses full time, and thanks to an opportunity to train for George Bell in North Carolina, he was given the transition he needed to resume riding again.
“I don’t think he will leave the industry anymore,” said NRHA Professional Olivier van den Berg, Heule’s long-time friend. “It is where his heart is. He is determined that the most important thing in life isn’t businesses, it is following where his heart is. He has been quite successful in creating good stuff and has a bright future ahead of him.”
In 2017 Heule relocated his training business to Pilot Point, Texas which allows him to be closer to the studs he manages.
“Being out of the industry for a while, it took all of the doubt out of it,” said Heule. “We are both 1,000 percent motivated to make it work. I enjoy the 2-year-olds because each one is like a clean slate of paper. I think there is a need in the industry for a solid program for these horses. A lot of top guys are interested in their next futurity horse, so in a lot of programs the 2-year-old program is neglected, and they aren’t treated as babies. I care about it a lot and think it is very important. I think of them as my kids.”
Cupri praises Heule for his talent and patience with young horses.
“Hubert has always shown interest in 2-year olds,” said Cupri. “He believes that setting the base in a correct way can dramatically change the life of a prospect. I think he learned a lot from Mr. Loseke whose program for 2-year-olds is pretty famous worldwide. He is a very hard worker and so he spent the time the horse need. He never rides a minute less than what the horse needs.”
“Over the years with the experience I got, I have developed a program that suits their needs to help them be confident and strong,” said Heule. “To me that is very important — it is not all about turning and stopping. Mentally we need to make those horses ready to absorb information. I think they have their whole 3-year-old year to become soldiers. But I can take the time to make their, soft tissue, muscles, and mind strong.”
Heule looks forward to continuing the development of his own training program while continuing to promote the stallions who have helped him get to where he is today.
“This path has given me a lot of experience being all over the world,” Heule said. “I may not have had the stability a lot of people have had, but my wife and I are ready to settle down. It gave me so many contacts around the world and I can speak four languages which helps me a lot to do business internationally. It has been a great ride.”
As for those who know him best, they are thrilled to see where he takes his business next. “He is very talented in a lot of very different things,” said van den Berg. “He is always determined. If he has mind set on something he will give it 200% and that is the most brilliant thing he can do. He shuts everything off when he is working on something and I will hear from him months later saying he accomplished it.”
“For me it has always been the thrill of new experiences, said Heule. “There are always things you would want to do different, but I consider myself a citizen of the world. Everything always works out for some reason, even though at times you think ‘what have I done.’ I feel like today I don’t think I would have done anything different. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.”