University of Vermont AAHS

IN MEMORIAM: PAUL TRAVIS

[reproduced from the Winter 2001 issue of Caution:Horses]

This fall AAHS lost one of its original board members, our beloved Paul Travis of Altoona, Florida. Paul was one of the few people that I have known who really affected each person whose life he touched. I first met him when I did a clinic in Altoona ten years ago. Since then he has heavily influenced the way we at AAHS believe clinics should be run. He was also a horseman in every sense of the word. If it had to do with horses, his understanding of this animal was enough that Paul could get almost anything done. I never saw anything he couldnít do with a horse and I never saw him force a horse to do anything. I saw him train police horses without scaring them, win team pennings without appearing to hurry, and explain to barrel racers in clinics that jerking on their horses would just slow them down. Paul helped form the philosophy that makes AAHS what it is today. He was there from the beginning.

His true love was his horses and his family and that is evidenced by his family history which is woven in and out of the horse industry. His best known horse was Reach and Go who was a legend at the time but now I am getting ahead of the story. I asked Paulís son Dan Burba to fill me in on the parts we didnít know and here is what he wrote:

My Dad was born February 4, 1941, in the east central Pennsylvanian town of Punxsutawney. He did not grow up on a farm but at an early age he loved horses and cowboy ways, according to his Mom. His favorite pair of shoes was his cowboy boots. Paul enlisted in the army right after high school and was in the airborne division.

My Dad and Mom met while trail riding with a group in the Allegany Mountains of Pennsylvania. They married in 1970. During the early 70ís trail riding was a family event that we participated in every weekend. Many miles and memories were made on horseback in those mountains. During this time Dad worked away from home in Kentucky and Tennessee, where he was a core drill operator for road construction through the mountains. In 1974 he took a job as an office manager for a coal company in eastern Kentucky. Then he decided to move.

On July 4th 1974, with everything packed and the horses loaded, Dad moved my Mom, brother and me to a hillside farm in the little town of Grayson, Kentucky. With a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, the once cattle pasture/tobacco land was transformed to what was to be known as PaMoís Stables (for Paul and Mona).

At first, Dad and Mom raised Appaloosas that were used for trail riding and timed event/game classes (barrel racing, pole bending). Dad was very fond of buying young horses and breaking them to ride. With a lot of reading, riding, and observing trainers, Dad and Mom soon started training horses more seriously for barrel racing and pole bending. It was done by the whole family. Going to shows/playdays of barrel racing and pole bending became a weekend family event. Then in the late 70ís Dad and Mom bought a young appendix registered quarter horse mare off the race track with the plan of cross-breeding her with an Appaloosa stallion to raise foals with more speed. Soon she was trained to run barrels and poles. Dad learned of an American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Show near Lexington, Kentucky and he decided to take the mare. This was the turning point in my Dadís life, although we did not know it at the time. Our whole family felt differently about quarter horses after this mare. Dadís desire to train these horses to run barrels and poles was immense.

In the spring of 1979 Dad traveled to Ada, Oklahoma a bought a 3-year-old AQHA stallion that had just received his Register of Merit (ROM) in racing. His name was Reach and Go. The horse was gelded and the race was on. In 1980 Dad and Reach and Go won the AQHA the High Point Barrel Racing Championship and High Point Junior Barrel Racing Championship. Reach and Go received his Performance ROM and his Superior rating in Barrel Racing. In 1981 Dad and Reach and Go were 5th in Senior Barrels at the AQHA World Show. In 1982 they were top ten in high point and open barrels. In 1983 they were 4th in High Point Open Barrels. Dad and Reach and Go also were placing and earning points at the Quarter Horse Congress and the Quarterama in Ontario.

During this time barrel racing futurities were becoming popular. Dad placed in several including the Old Fort Days in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Dad ran the second fastest time out of 350 entries in the preliminaries and placed fourth in the finals after Reach and Go nearly fell rounding the second barrel. During that time my Dad touched a lot of peopleís lives.

In 1989 Dad and Mom moved to Altoona, Florida where my brother, Dave, bought a veterinary practice. I was already teaching in the School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University by then. My dad, semi-retired, continued to break and train horses and train riders as well. He was also working with some of the mounted police officers and developed some special techniques to train horses and officers to work in crowds.

In the 1990ís Dad became involved in team penning. Making up a team was not a problem. We had the family which even gave us a spare rider. Dad, along with his family, competed in many team penning events along the south eastern and south central United States. He was so respected within the penning circuit. Even in the final months when the Association gave a benefit for him he was stunned that 400 teams showed up and it lasted three days.

Dad continued to ride up to his last days on Earth. He was a true cowboy at heart and followed the cowboy ways. Even with all the success that Dad had in the horse industry, he remained true to heart, humble yet right to the point, and was always willing to help his fellow horseman. I think this is why he was so well thought of. These are the things he impresses on me.

Sincerely, Dan Burba, DVM

Paul is survived by his wife Mona; his two sons David and Dan; his daughter-in-law, Nancy; and his grandson, A.J.

We will all miss Paul.  He was a loyal supporter of AAHS and a dear friend to Bob and me.  Jan Dawson


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