Melanie Wilhelm

Hello and thank you for your interest in Wilhelm Performance Horses. 

I was born a horse crazy kid in 1969 to Harry & Roberta Watt of Meeker, Colorado.  I really can't remember a time when horses weren't a major part of my life. Looking through my scrapbook it seems that in every picture I was on a horse.

When I was a little girl I spent countless hours with my Grandpa Tom riding on his ranch. It was from him that I learned basic horse sense and how to start young colts. He taught me so many lessons that I still use today. He taught me the importance of going slow and how to put a steering wheel and brakes on a horse through ground driving before climbing aboard. He used to always tell me, "You have to be smarter than the horse." The summer between my 4th and 5th grade years he gave me a 2 year old colt named "Cocoa" which was the first colt I got to start by myself.

The following year I joined 4-H with Cocoa and was very fortunate to have an excellent 4-H teacher. Ethel Owens taught me so much about patience and being a quiet communicator with my young horse. My Grandma Lil was also a major part of my success in 4-H shows. Grandma is a perfectionist and she taught me how to practice things over and over and over until I had them absolutely down pat. I learned not to settle for things just being good enough....I wanted to be the best.

By the time I reached junior high I started to focus more on speed events and this time my dad became my coach. Dad had a good eye for a horse and he always made sure I was mounted. However, he never bought me a finished horse. I got young horses that I had to work with and train myself, but he consistently took me to various clinics to get help and continue to learn. By the time I reached high school my horses and I were really clicking. We excelled in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping and team roping. We were lucky enough to win multiple state championships in the first two events. My dad taught me to always give 110% and that hard work pays off.

I graduated from Meeker High School in 1987 and moved south to Portales, NM where I attended Eastern New Mexico University. I continued to rodeo in college and in 1989 was part of the ladies team that qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo. Academics were also important and I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1992 and immediately took a job teaching 5th grade in Hereford, Texas.

In 1993, I married Wayne Wilhelm and we began building a life together in his home town of Nazareth, Texas. While Wayne built a successful farming operation, I continued to teach school for 7 years. In 1999 I decided it was time to follow my true passion....horses. Even before I quit teaching, I had begun starting colts for locals and neighbors in my spare time.

When I made the decision to train professionally, I already had a core client base. Most of the horses I started were destined to be barrel horses, rope horses or ranch horses. Generally people only wanted to put 30 - 60 days on them. In order to build better foundations on these colts I started learning about reining. The more I learned, the more the event fascinated and intrigued me. I attended clinics, watched videos, read articles and implemented what I learned on every horse that came through my barn. Finally, a horse came along that showed potential for the event, and the owners were willing to continue his training and pursue a show career. That horse was Docs Frosty Lena CT owned by Terry & Warnetta Martin of Canyon, TX. He was the first reining horse I ever trained and showed. It was on "Frosty" that I earned my first AQHA points and NRHA earnings.  I also began to learn how to coach a non pro. Warnetta showed him in amateur and rookie classes qualifying two times for the AQHA World Show, placing in the top 10 in 2003.

Since that time I have enjoyed many local, regional, & national championships. Reining is a continual process of improvement, and I have continued to try and learn from the best. I am constantly reading articles, watching training DVDs or riding with Top NRHA professionals I admire. In 2011, I achieved my career highlight to date by making the Level 4 Open finals at the NRHA Derby on Chexy Whiz. What a thrill it was to accomplish that goal and yet it only makes the desire to reach new goals even more intense.


"Excellence can be attained if you care
more than others think is wise,
Risk more than others think is safe,
Dream more than others think is practical, and
Expect more than others think is possible." ~Anon.