Written By: Barbara Newtown
“As soon as I could sit up straight as an infant, my parents put me on a horse,” says Victoria Locascio. Her parents, Michael and Patti Magee, raised Tennessee Walking Horses on a thirty-acre farm in Covington, Louisiana. Michael Magee was serious about his Walking Horses. “We had trainers come in all the time from Mississippi. I showed Tennessee Walkers with the big padded shoes, and I also showed them in Western Pleasure,” Victoria says. Her mother, who started riding Walkers after she met Michael, became good enough to finish second in her class at the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
“I was successful showing Tennessee Walkers,” says Victoria, “but it just wasn’t my passion. My dad offered to spend money on a really nice show horse. I had to say, Dad, that’s not what I want to do. I had to have the adrenaline rush. I begged my dad to let me run barrels!” When Victoria was eight years old, she finally convinced him to let her get a little Quarter Pony named Pearl. She had Pearl for ten more years.
“My dad didn’t get a faster barrel horse for me for a long time,” Victoria says. “We would go to the sale barn and buy three or four horses and just take them home. We didn’t know what we were getting! They’d start bucking or they’d come up with bad ground manners. I would train them and fix the problems and we’d take them back to the sale barn. I guess that was my dad’s way of finding out how tough and committed I was. It’s funny, when you’re a little kid you have no fear. You’re invincible.” At the time Victoria thought she was being independent, but she recalls that her dad was always there, watching carefully. “I could have gotten hurt, but he was an incredible horse person. The horses respected him.”
Michael also ran a construction company, which was taken over by Victoria’s brother after their father passed. Michael also owned IMS Trailer Sales in Covington. Victoria has wonderful memories of that store. “We sold horse trailers and cargo trailers and horse tack and silver jewelry. We had antiques everywhere and a wagon out in front. I have some of those antiques in my house now.”
Eventually Michael bought Victoria a faster barrel horse when she was a junior in high school. She started running locally, but didn’t show with the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association, because no-one else at her school did that sport. “Although we were an equestrian family, we were not a rodeo family,” she says. She had to find out about shows and pester people to take her. “Then a good friend of mine, a friend of the family, took me under her wing, taught me the technique, and took me to some good barrel competitions.”
Victoria went to McNeese State University in Lake Charles, where she rodeo’d for a short time. She then concentrated on her studies and earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a concentration in Equine Science. While in school, she also worked as a manager in high-end retail: Coach, Inc., makers of luxury leather goods. She found that the hard work and discipline needed to succeed in the horse world transferred nicely over to the retail world: she was promoted four times in one year. Victoria has nothing but praise for Coach. “It’s a great, great company. If I were going to stay in retail, I wouldn’t work for anyone else.”
After graduation in 2013, her retail experience and her science major made her a prime candidate for a job as a pharmaceutical representative. “But,” says Victoria, “that was my fallback plan.” Working with horses had always been her dream.
Victoria married Nick Locascio, who was starting a career in banking. While Victoria and Nick were still in Lake Charles, Patti, now a real estate agent, found the perfect little farm in Covington for the couple. “We bought it just from the description!” says Victoria. They tore up the back yard to put in an arena, fenced the pasture, put in a round pen, and added a seven-stall barn. They named their new facility “Running South Stables,” in honor of Michael Magee, whose Tennessee Walker farm was called “Walking South Stables.” Of course, the “Running” is in honor of Victoria’s need for speed.
Victoria gives ten to fifteen lessons a week. Her current riders range in age from nine to eighteen, and their skills range from just learning how to post to running barrels at shows. Students can take lessons on their own horses, on Victoria’s horses, or they can let Victoria fix or finish horses that they bring to her. “I always ask my students what their big goal is,” she says. “Then we can come up with small, achievable goals for each lesson. That’s how I train my horses, too.”
Nick is busy in the banking business, but he still helps Victoria with farm chores, supports her at barrel races, and goes along for a ride now and then. “He’s so good with finances,” says Victoria. “I never have to worry about crashing and burning. We make decisions together. I’m a dreamer, always seeing how big things can be. He’s a realist. We balance each other out.”
Victoria’s favorite horse is Heart, her finished barrel horse. “She’s a blast to run! She’s got every single button. She can move any part of her body independently of any other. She’s just beautiful all around. I can count on her to make an awesome run every time!” Victoria explains that when barrel horses have trouble with the pattern, it’s usually because they don’t have all the buttons they’re supposed to have: they don’t know how move off the shoulder, move the hip, move the ribcage, or give at the poll. “Every time I ride Heart, I see my work—a finished product,” she says.
Victoria’s newest project is a five-month-old orphan by the Thoroughbred racehorse Star Guitar. The colt was a test baby, the stallion’s first foal, out of a Quarter Horse nurse mare. “He’s going to be my star!” she says. Victoria has been interested in racehorses for a while: she has worked at the Folsom training center since 2008. Her mentor is Mark Hobbs, and she expects to have her assistant trainer’s license soon. “Since my dad passed away, Mark has been a father figure to me. He has taught me as much about horses as my dad did.”
Victoria works hard, but she has her priorities straight. “I always give my horses Sunday off. I’m a Christian; Sunday is a day of rest.”
For more information on Running South Stables, go to www.runningsouthstables.com