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Marty Allen Wernleinducted into the Texas American Saddlebred Hall of Fame on March 16th of this year.
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Marty Allen Wernle was inducted into the Texas American Saddlebred Hall of Fame on March 16th of this year. If you don't know Marty . . . you have missed out on talking with one of the most interesting horsemen in the San Antonio area. You can almost always find Marty at his family-friendly barn in St. Hedwig, Texas. If he is not at the farm, you will find him on a show ring rail giving his rider a reason to smile. You can't miss him... he is the tall lanky fellow wearing a fedora and khaki pants in a sea of blue jeans, and surrounded by happy clients.
Born Alan Marshall Wernle in Medford, Oregon in 1942. Marty made his way to Texas with his grandparents; his grandfather worked at Fort Sam. He graduated from Brackenridge High School in 1960 and went on to get a History and Philosophy degree from St. Mary's University. During those years he worked horses for Jack Sellers (of the famous Palomino Patrol Parade Saddlebreds) and was a ballroom dance instructor at Arthur Murray's to pay for his education.
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Marty has a loyal following and you cannot help but see the gleam in their eyes when asked, "Do you have a minute to share some thoughts about Marty
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Marty worked at Rubiola's Stable from 1970-1977 and then at Brackenridge Stables from 1977-1989. Most everyone from San Antonio knows of Brackenridge Park but not everyone remembers the stables. Those stables were a hub of diverse horse activities with Marty at the helm; you could rent a horse to ride through the park, take riding lessons, or compete at numerous horse shows around the country. Young students would hang out at the barn all day and work endlessly in hopes of garnering time on a horse . . . any horse!
He continued training at Brackenridge Stables and worked in some special events such as the Renaissance Festival in Plantersville, TX. The flat racing, chariot racing, and jousting performances were held 9 times a day, 2 days a week, for an exhausting 6 weeks. The dream of owning his own place became a reality in 1981 when he bought land in St. Hedwig, TX. His hard work paid off in 1988 when Marty loaded up the trailers and pulled down the long country road to unload at Wernle Stables. That milestone was reached and the transition was complete; he was home.
Marty has been a horseman for 59 years. His extensive knowledge is built by his incredible experiences. If you pull up a chair next to Marty, you will hear about the horses he has trained for fun, show ring, or tricks. You will hear stories about the times he worked with Hollywood stunt coordinators to create movie magic and his favorite palomino trick horse, Dammit. He will start smiling as he tells you about his favorite horse of all time, Harvey, and then hold your hand as he tells you of his passing. He will remind you of show ring successes and then share the secret, "There is one sure fire way to win a class . . . fill the class with your riders". He will laugh out loud and pull you close to tell of the time of the ultimate failure, "You know it's a bad day when you have the only two horses in the championship class and both riders fall off". He will remind you of the grand show days of 30 horse classes with such greats as Sea Story and Midnight Sun. He is a man with great stories and many talents.
Hearing his stories only prompts you to want to know more. The recent Highpoint dinner, featuring the ASHA State Pleasure Horse/TASHA highpoints and inductions into the Texas Saddlebred Hall of Fame, was the perfect venue. Surrounded by his fellow horseman and friends, Marty, and wife Susan Wooten Wernle accepted the great recognition of his lifetime achievements. His students, both past and present, joyfully supported their father figure, mentor, and inspiration. Marty has a loyal following and you cannot help but see the gleam in their eyes when asked, "Do you have a minute to share some thoughts about Marty"
- Life: "Marty is a shining example of life and he exemplifies the lifelong satisfaction that horseback riding can bring", "Marty has no
strangers in his life; from the homeless in downtown San Antonio to a high dollar roller at a black tie event"
- Showing: "Marty always told me that if you go to enough shows, you're gonna come home with a blue ribbon", "Marty does not believe
in crying during nor after a class and often asked if I had a cold or something"
- Barn life: "Marty would always remind riders that mother earth is always there to catch you", "Marty would take us all down to the
local ice house and would tell the clerk that he almost had enough for a baseball team", "smile baby".
- Vehicles: "Marty had an old Gremlin that was so bad that he would hold on to my arm when we turned a corner", "Marty once had a
truck stolen and when it was found, it was in better shape so he sold it"
These stories merely skim the surface of Marty's personal Hall of Fame. Nothing compares to the man but the man himself. Look for him around St. Hedwig or a horse show and stand beside him for just 5 minutes . . . you will have a new friend for life. What a legacy: the twinkle in his eye and images of his smile, the stories told by all who know him, the laughter and love that follow him everywhere.