Geoff Weisbart Saddles Up
The business litigator rides in cutting competitions and turns out champions
Published in 2021 Texas Super Lawyers magazine on September 22, 2021
On a spring day in Central Texas earlier this year, Geoff Weisbart introduces his new baby: a spirited quarter horse named Gracie. Born just three weeks earlier on his ranch in Manchaca, just outside Austin, the foal is already doing sprints across her pen, stretching out her long legs.
“She’s bred to be an athlete. She wants to go show off,” says Weisbart, a founding partner at Weisbart Springer Hayes in Austin. If all goes well, in three years she’ll be in cutting competitions, in which horse and rider demonstrate their skill at separating individual cows from a herd. Winners earn prize money, and they can make even more by breeding future competitors.
“I have a different life than most people, because I’m downtown in a very sophisticated law practice, and then I come home and clean horse stalls,” says Weisbart. “It brings you back to basics.”
Weisbart once bred golden retrievers and German shorthaired pointers. After he moved on to the equine species, a trainer suggested he might enjoy cutting horses. He tried riding them—and got hooked. Soon he was breeding them for competition, and he’s produced a couple of superstars: two-time National Cutting Horse Association world champion Ms Peppy Cat (total earnings: $271,090), and her sister, world champion Ms Mimosa ($177,404).
“I am closing in on $1 million of earnings on the babies I’ve produced,” Weisbart says. He’s also earned prize money—and an impressive collection of prize buckles—in two decades of competing himself.
Weisbart often “starts” his own foals, introducing them to halters, saddles and riding. “When you sell them,” he says, “you want them to be in pristine shape, and you want them to be trained to be a good citizen.”
That lesson was driven home about five years ago, when Weisbart found himself without a horse to start. He bought one that wasn’t used to being handled—and wound up driving himself to the hospital after splitting his pelvis in half. His partners made him promise not to start colts.
“I still compete, but not as much as I’d like,” he says. “My day job seems to get in the way.”
Growing up in Amarillo, Weisbart wasn’t interested in joining the cattle feed business passed from his grandfather’s generation to his father’s; he wanted to pilot commercial aircraft. On his 16th birthday, he soloed; at 18, he got his flight instructor rating and commercial license, which allowed him to fly charters. He taught and piloted flights while attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, but airline deregulation caused massive pilot layoffs before he graduated. His mother suggested law school.
Weisbart entered Texas Tech University School of Law, and discovered he liked it. After graduating in 1986, he went to a Dallas law firm, then moved to Austin.
“At that point, I was all-in on being a lawyer, so I didn’t fly a whole lot for 27 years,” he says. But he maintained his airline transport rating, and now the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association member shuttles legal teams to out-of-town clients in his six-seat Piper Meridian.
“I love lawyering; I have a zest for it,” Weisbart says. “Part of the reason is that I do have other things that give me a break. … When I’m working with a horse or if I’m flying an airplane, it requires 100% of my attention; I can’t think about all the issues and problems and pressures of my law practice.”
He particularly loves competing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and still chuckles about the night he and his mount, Pretty Player, ranked third in competition there just before his 50th birthday. When he got home, he found an AARP card in the mail.
Now 60, he’s excited about reaching senior-level competition—and doesn’t plan to quit any time soon.
How does he fit it all into a 24-hour day? “Getting up early,” Weisbart says with a laugh.
Geoff Weisbart’s Competition Attire
Shirt: Cinch button-down, embroidered with the brand’s logo rider astride a bucking bronco.
Boots: Ariat—a brand named for Triple Crown winner Secretariat.
Saddle: Cutting-horse saddle by Sean Ryon of Fort Worth.