Racing racehorses Lipp focuses on the best genetics for the racing industry
Shell – Mike Lipp has bred racehorses at Valley View Ranch outside of Shell, where he was raised, since the early 1980s.
“We raised racehorses since the 1980s for about 10 or 15 years, but we got out of it because there wasn’t much money in it,” Lipp explains. “Now, with the return of historic horse racing in Wyoming, we’ve begun to rebuild.”
While his ranch never completely got rid of their herd of broodmares, Lipp says, “We always held a few horses back every year. We always had performance horses and horses with running blood in them for barrel racers and team ropers.”
Lipp adds the family continually sold horses to rodeo competitors, but seven years ago, when historic horse racing was approved again, they jumped back into the racehorse industry.
Valley View Ranch
Today, Lipp and his wife Serena work together on Valley View Ranch, and while he enjoys breeding racehorses, Lipp also has a full-time job off the ranch.
“I also operate heavy equipment on the railroad, and sometimes, driving back and forth, trying to breed and get everything right is tough,” he says. “But my interest in breeding racehorses never left.”
When Lipp is out of town for work, Serena takes care of the operation.
“My son lives down in Texas now,” says Lipp, “but he still races horses up here in Wyoming. He’s got his own breeding program, but he usually buys horses from us every year.”
In the 80s, Lipp says he partnered with Ed Giles out of Utah, saying, “Ed was one of the best partners there was. He always placed one or two and has had a number of big wins.”
They relaunched the partnership as racing grew in prominence in Wyoming.
“The timing was right to start breeding horses again,” Lipp says.
“When we breed horses, we’re hoping to get the best genetics that we can afford,” Lipp explains, “but the mares are the most important part.”
In addition to having a good record, Lipp says it’s important to stay away from horses that are “bred to death.”
“It takes a long time to study up on the pedigrees,” he says. “Everything is quite a bit different than when I was doing it before.”
“Breeding horses is a lot of hard work,” he says. “It’s a challenge to keep up on everything, but it’s something we like. We try to build our pedigrees to match what we’re looking for.”
In addition to building the best pedigree possible for every horse they raise, Lipp explains it’s important to feed and raise the horses right, “but breeding is the biggest part of our program. It’s important.”
Because Shell experiences rough winters, with four or five feet of snow that stays on the ground, Lipp comments, “We’ve got to be on our toes all the time at the ranch. We never know what to expect, and we have to be aware of what’s going on.”
Lipp continues, “It always seems like we have mares due when it’s going to be 10 or 15 degrees below zero. This is something you have to enjoy to be successful.”
Currently, Lipp is running two stallions by Corona Cartel, which represents the top end of racing genetics.
“Corona Cartel is the best genetics out there for racehorses,” says Lipp.
This year, in the Wyoming All Breeds Racing Association, Lipp bred the top two Quarter horses, VVR Big Shooter and VVR Dazzling Corona. The horses tied for top points.
DVM Dazzling Corona is owned by Lipp’s son.
“We sell a bunch of horses every year, and we also run a few,” he says. “In 2017, we had five or six horses running, and this year, we’ll have 11 two-year-olds on the track.”
Of those two-year-olds, Lipp says he has retained only two, selling the remainder to other people who run them in the Wyoming-bred program. The horses bred by the Lipp family can be distinguished by the VVR prefix in their name.
Each year, Lipp takes horses around Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming to race.
“We stay in the intermountain area, mostly,” he says.
Since he began, Lipp says he’s been fortunate to market horses strictly by word-of-mouth.
“I have people from Utah, Idaho and around the region call me looking for horses each year,” he says.
As they look forward, Lipp says he anticipates continue to grow and build a bigger and better program.
“We bought about 10 broodmares this year and another son of Corona Cartel two years ago,” he explains. “This is the first real crop on the ground this year. We’ll probably get seven or eight foals out of him this year.”
Lipp continues, “We’re really looking forward to see what he produces. We’re trying to continually upgrade our genetics to stay competitive with the industry.”
In addition to raising horses, Lipp is involved in the leadership of the Wyoming All Breeds Racing Association (WABRA).
“I’ve always been involved in WABRA,” he says. “Back in the early 80s, a lot of the guys who started the organization still knew me. When they were looking to build the association again, they asked me if I would help to provide some knowledge about the racing industry.”
“We’re trying to make Wyoming racing the best that it can be,” Lipp comments.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.