The Gallop Report

Guess What’s in the May America’s Horse

April 17, 2014

It’s all about asking the right people the right question.

May 2014 Americas Horse

What one question would you love to ask your favorite horse trainer? Post your comments on Facebook!

You’ve heard of the game 20 Questions? Well, here’s a variant on that: If you could ride down the trail with some pretty special people and ask them just one question, what would it be?

In the May issue of America’s Horse, that’s essentially what we did, and you won’t want to miss the answers.

On the AQHA Facebook page, we posed this question: What was the ride of your life? Some of the responses, compiled in this issue, were truly amazing. We heard from a teenage girl who knew, at the first ride, that she had found the horse of her dreams. We tell the stories of women who have been through terrible challenges to their health and emerged cherishing every single ride. There’s also the woman who carries with her memories of carefree, idyllic rides from her younger years.

Each year, a handful of dedicated riders reach the 5,000-hour milestone in the AQHA Horseback Riding Program. So to them, we asked: How on earth did you do it? (That’s a lot of hours, after all!) Here’s what one award recipient said: “I make time. If I have to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning or stay up ’til 10 o’clock at night, I make time to work around it so I can enjoy the hobby I love the most.”

Fred Whitfield won eight world championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. But as we all know, tie-down roping isn’t a solitary pursuit. To succeed, you’ve got to have a good horse. We asked Fred to tell us about his best one, and he was happy to oblige. After all, he says he owes a lot to the plucky bay gelding registered as Sonitas Wonder.

Now, truth be told, if you were riding down the trail with AQHA Executive Committee member Dr. Glenn Blodgett, who heads up the horse program at the famed Four Sixes Ranch, your one-and-only question to him might be more along the lines of: “Can I ride/buy/breed to one of your horses?” But for the purposes of the magazine, we asked him about the breeding principles he uses to make those great ranch horses. At Road to the Horse, two Four Sixes-bred full siblings were in the spotlight, and Dr. Blodgett gives us some insight. Read the rest of this entry »

America’s Horse Digital Extras

March 31, 2014

Have you logged in yet to look at the extra content in the March-April issue?

2014 March-April America's Horse

One recent afternoon, Editor-in-Chief Becky Newell and I stepped into a time capsule at AQHA Headquarters.

It might have looked like just an ordinary conference room, but lining the shelves were some priceless relics that allowed us to step back into the 1940s and ’50s – vintage copies of The Quarter Horse Journal that documented the history of the Association and its great horses in real time.

“Oh, check this out!” we’d say periodically, as we thumbed through the old issues and found something that was too good to keep to ourselves.

Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Road to the Horse — It’s a Wrap!

March 16, 2014

Jim Anderson and Speedy Cream are the champs.

By Holly Clanahan, America’s Horse editor

Road to the Horse champion Jim Anderson celebrates with event producer Tootie Bland.

Road to the Horse champion Jim Anderson celebrates with event producer Tootie Bland.

Event producer Tootie Bland called it a Cinderella story, and what an apt description. Canadian Jim Anderson had to fight for the right to even compete at the Road to the Horse competition, and then he showed that he was more than worthy to be there. Jim won the Wild Card competition earlier in the week, which was sort of a talent search — an effort to find “future superstars of the horse industry.” And then he stepped immediately into the Road to the Horse competition.

From the beginning, he focused on simple, solid horsemanship methods. He didn’t talk on the microphone a lot as he worked, but his actions spoke volumes. He stuck to his game plan, which was to address any issues that reared their head — such as his horse’s pushiness — and simply build each day on the foundation that had been laid.

Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Road to the Horse, Day 2

March 15, 2014

All four horses and horsemen made strides on the second day of the colt-starting competition.

By Holly Clanahan

Road to the Horse competitor Jim Anderson takes Speedy Cream over a makeshift jump in the round pen. It was the colt's second day under saddle.

Road to the Horse competitor Jim Anderson takes Speedy Cream over a makeshift jump in the round pen. It was the colt’s second day under saddle.

Each of the colts in the 2014 Road to the Horse colt-starting competition have different personalities. Two of them are brave but pushy; one is sensitive and skeptical; and the fourth tends to sull up instead of moving forward. But the good news is that there are four very talented horsemen in the round pens addressing those weaknesses and building on the horses’ strengths. And already the colts are making tremendous progress. And the audience in Lexington, Kentucky, is getting quite a varied education.

Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Road to the Horse, Day 1

March 15, 2014

See who won the Wild Card competition and step into the round pens for the first day of this colt-starting competition.

By Holly Clanahan

The AQHA-Four Sixes remuda storms into the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on Friday, giving spectators their first real look at the 21 3-year-old geldings. Four of them were selected by Road to the Horse competitors to move immediately into round pens to be started under saddle. Seven others will be taken home by Wild Card competitors for a year's worth of training before they return for the 2015 Road to the Horse. The other Four Sixes Ranch colts are available for sale.

The AQHA-Four Sixes remuda storms into the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on Friday, giving spectators their first real look at the 21 3-year-old geldings. Four of them were selected by Road to the Horse competitors to move immediately into round pens to be started under saddle. Seven others will be taken home by Wild Card competitors for a year’s worth of training before they return for the 2015 Road to the Horse. The other Four Sixes Ranch colts are available for sale. See more photos in the slideshow below.

The colt-starting competition Road to the Horse is always a whirlwind of activity, but on Friday, it was especially so for Jim Anderson of Strathmore, Alberta.

Jim was competing as a Wild Card, vying for a coveted spot in the actual Road to the Horse competition. And in the Wild Card finals on Friday, he raised the bar, riding Six Flo Buck bareback and bridleless in a freestyle reining run that included tempi changes, sliding stops and spins. “Maverick” was smooth and responsive, and when Jim rode him back into the arena – still with no tack – it wasn’t a surprise to see him crowned fan favorite and Wild Card champion. (See the slideshow below for pics of the other Wild Card competitors, who also did great jobs with their colts. Remember to click on the photos to see larger versions and descriptions.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Road to the Horse Kicks Off in 2014

March 14, 2014

Wild Card competition gets pretty, well, wild.

By Holly Clanahan, America’s Horse editor

Road to the Horse producer Tootie Bland is launching the 2014 version of her event with flair. She also launched T-shirts into the crowd on Thursday, using a cannon and having fun with it.

Road to the Horse producer Tootie Bland is launching the 2014 version of her event with flair. She also launched T-shirts into the crowd on Thursday, using a cannon and having fun with it.

Emcee Matt West perhaps said it best: There’s not one of these horses he wouldn’t like to take home.

There were some nice ponies on display during the Ram Wild Card competition at the 2014 Road to the Horse. This time last  year, they were unstarted, half-wild 3-year-olds from the esteemed Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. Some of their bretheren were selected for the 2013 Road to the Horse competition, but these guys went home with their Wild Card competitors to undergo a year of training.

On Thursday, they reappeared in Lexington, Kentucky, having had countless hours poured into them. And it was obvious.

Jim Anderson took his Six Flo Buck, aka “Maverick,” to a reining show (the 2013 Saskatchewan Reining Horse Association Limited Open Futurity) and an Extreme Cowboy competition — both of which he won. Maverick is sired by National Reined Cow Horse Association supreme champion Playboys Buck Fever.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Ride of My Life

February 3, 2014

Living with horses creates memories both funny and poignant. Let’s trade stories.

By America’s Horse Editor Holly Clanahan

Powdie Bars Gold, aka "Tanker," was versatile back in his day. Jeff Kirkbride photo.

Powdie Bars Gold, aka “Tanker,” was versatile back in his day. Jeff Kirkbride photo.

So, America’s Horse is putting out a call for personal essays that touch on this topic: Tell us about the ride of your life.

We’re not necessarily looking for stories about show-ring victories (although those could count, too) … what we’re really hoping to get are heartfelt stories that epitomize how horses are our life, how those moments in the saddle can be life savers, how horses inspire us, how they sustain us.

It has made me reflect. If I had to pick just one, what would I consider the ride of my life?

Horses have been an important part of my life since before I could walk. I was born with a magnet that drew me to them in a way I can’t quite explain; it has always been there, and it always will be. Because of that, so many of my most-cherished memories involve horses.

So, the ride? I don’t know how you pick just one.

There were the years in junior high when my parents hauled me and my trusty buckskin gelding, Powdie Bars Gold, to a circuit of open shows around western Oklahoma. There was one every weekend, and we went in every class, from halter to English to western – and even the speed events if we were in a close race for the all-around award. When we left the arena after each class, I’d walk “Tanker” over to my dad, standing at the rail, and talk about how we’d done. But before any discussion, Tanker would push his head into my dad’s hands, needing to be told what a good boy he was.

My mom was there to help with the quick wardrobe and back number changes that had to be made, keeping my hair pulled into a neat bun and making sure that everyone in the vicinity had plenty of food, Dr Pepper and Gatorade. Read the rest of this entry »

The November America’s Horse

October 24, 2013

Meet the AQHA Publications team that put out an amazing issue.

November 2013 Americas HorseSipping coffee on a chilly morning while doing a final read-through of the digital version of the November’s America’s Horse, it struck me that this particular issue is a great representation of our publications staff, past and present. I may be one of those weird people who actually likes her co-workers, but this issue introduces many of them to you, and I think you’ll like them, too.

Jim Jennings, technically, isn’t a co-worker anymore, since his retirement as an AQHA executive director. But he still contributes to America’s Horse on lucky-for-us occasions. As he tells the tale of this year’s Zoetis AQHA Best Remuda-winning ranch, he begins by lamenting about a missed photo opportunity. Don’t let him fool you; Jim is a great photographer, and his coffee-table book, “Best Remudas,” offers plenty of proof. There’s evidence, too, inside the November America’s Horse. Many of the photos that illustrate the story are frame-worthy. It’s a profile on the famed Matador Ranch of Texas and its award-winning horse program.

Freelance writer Lindsay Keller isn’t exactly a co-worker either; she’s a former AQHA Publications intern. It’s always great to stay in touch with our interns and encourage them in their writing careers. Lindsay does a masterful job of introducing readers to three generations of women in Missouri who are sharing one talented barrel-racing mare. You can’t help but fall in love with the youngest, a tenacious 9-year-old who looks to have a bright future ahead of her.

Current co-worker Andrea Caudill, editor of the Q-Racing Journal, allows us all to share in a wonderful moment: the homecoming of a long-lost gelding whom she had trained as a teenager. In “Regarding Henry,” you’ll learn how a chance encounter reunited her with the 19-year-old who had spent his years away from Andrea teaching numerous children how to ride. But he was in need of an immediate home, and of course, Andrea said “Yes.”

Editor-in-Chief Becky Newell, Internet editor Tara Matsler and The American Quarter Horse Journal editor Christine Hamilton also contributed to the editorial mix, as did longtime freelancer Tom Moates, who offers a story on the legendary Western life lived by Nevada rancher Allie Tipton Bear.

I hate to admit it, but one of my most favorite things in the November issue isn’t even a story. It’s an advertisement from AQHA’s marketing department. Jody Reynolds, the director of online/interactive communications is pictured as a tiny toddler astride a horse led by her father, Gary Johnson, and in a current-day photo with her twin sons, petting an American Quarter Horse. “Remember what it felt like to have a 1,100-pound best friend?” the ad asks. “Some things never change.” The ad promotes AQHYA life memberships as the perfect Christmas present for the special kids in your life.

I couldn’t agree more. Because, after all, one of the benefits of AQHYA membership (as well as regular AQHA membership) is that America’s Horse shows up in your mailbox 10 times a year, offering heartwarming stories, tips to help you better enjoy horse ownership and the feeling of belonging to the larger Quarter Horse community. Go to www.aqha.com/membership to check out the other amazing benefits!

If you’re already an AQHA member, you can log in now (go to www.aqhamembers.com with your member ID number and PIN) and read the digital edition of the November America’s Horse before it gets to your mailbox!

 

Holly Clanahan

Holly Clanahan
Editor, America's Horse magazine

I Am AQHA Proud

October 7, 2013

A well-timed reminder arrived as I was working on the October America’s Horse.

America's Horse for member of the American Quarter Horse AssociationI know this sounds corny, but I remember being breath-taken the first time I walked into the AQHA Headquarters in Amarillo. To get to the front doors, you have to pass a bronze statue of Wimpy P-1, and it was hard not to linger there, reading the historical marker about his legacy and AQHA’s beginnings.

Then, as you enter, you’ll see doormats custom-printed with “American Quarter Horse Association” and an image of the famous Mixer horse used as AQHA’s logo. Doorknobs, likewise, are engraved with the same.

To me, these details are such an indication of pride, not unlike the super-fans who plaster their team colors and logos on every imaginable surface. Although I feign a little interest when football season rolls around, I’m not the type to go nuts over my alma mater’s team. But Quarter Horses? Let’s go crazy.

As you stroll through the hallways of the AQHA offices, you pass the coolest stuff. Photos of all the Superhorses from the AQHA World Championship Show that bring on “Oooh, I remember him!” moments. Incredible artwork, including the Mixer horse – the one whose print hangs in the bedroom of just about every horse-crazy kid in the world.

I remember the first time I met Jim Jennings, the now-retired executive director who was responsible for The American Quarter Horse Journal and America’s Horse for many years. I was one of those kids who knew when to start looking for the Journal in the mailbox each month, and on the happy day that it came, I always loved reading what Jim had to say.

Suffice to say, AQHA Headquarters is a cool place. But as with anything that you see on a regular basis, sometimes the “cool factor” slips away. I wonder about the people who work at Mount Rushmore’s tourist center or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Do they become blinded to the wonder around them, just because they see it every day?

While I was working on the October America’s Horse, I had a wonderfully refreshing conversation with an AQHA member from North Dakota who had never been to our headquarters in Amarillo.

Kaye Burian is a talented artist who received the prestigious Steel Dust Artists Award in AQHA’s ongoing America’s Horse in Art Show & Sale. She came to Amarillo for the show’s opening August 17, and here’s what she said:

“We got a private tour of the AQHA office building, and it was about two and a half hours long. We saw how they registered the horses, and the different things that go into it. … I was just overwhelmed by the fact that so much goes on in the AQHA building, and I really enjoyed seeing all the art that you have hanging.

Mr. Treadway (AQHA’s executive vice president) welcomed us to the building and to Texas, and that was definitely a highlight in meeting him.”

In her voice, I heard some of the wonder that I had experienced, too. And then the little voice inside my head whispered: Don’t take this for granted.

It’s so true … just because I’ve walked past that statue of Wimpy a thousand times or worked with Jim Jennings and the other talented AQHA writers and editors on a million different projects … each one is still a privilege. Being part of an Association that I’ve admired all my life is truly a blessing. And now that I’m seeing it from the inside, even though the sense of awe may have faded, I get a better view of the good work and the good people who are part of AQHA.

The Association is working now on a marketing campaign titled “Be AQHA Proud.” I am, and I’ve got good reason to be. I hope our members, too, feel a sense of inclusion and pride. You’ve got good reason to, as well.

You betcha there’s pride involved in being an AQHA member. There are also great discounts from AQHA corporate partners, plus access to AQHA programs and events. And, my personal favorite: You’ll get 10 issues a year of America’s Horse magazine, the exclusive AQHA members magazine. Here’s a look at what’s in the October issue:

  • Kaye’s artwork – featured on the cover – is also explored inside the magazine. Find out where she draws her inspiration from.
  • Horseman Bryan Neubert explains why it’s not a bad thing to let your horse make mistakes. In fact, it’s an essential part of the learning process. As he discusses this theory, he also explains how to use it to fix common problems, like horses who snatch at bites of grass while you’re riding.
  • A down-under dinner theater goes over the top, using American Quarter Horses to tell Australia’s story.
  • The Great American Horse Drive saw more than 400 horses herded 60 miles through Colorado, and American Quarter Horses provided much of the horsepower.

America’s Horse also offers a digital edition, for members on the move who prefer to read on a tablet or other device. Simply log in at www.aqhamembers.com. However you choose to receive the magazine, we hope you enjoy reading about your fellow AQHA members and our favorite breed of horse. Let’s all stay AQHA proud!

Holly Clanahan is editor of America’s Horse magazine, an AQHA life member and a nearly lifelong American Quarter Horse owner. All AQHA members have an open invitation to tour the AQHA Headquarters in Amarillo. Just call (806) 376-4811 to make arrangements.

 

Holly Clanahan

Holly Clanahan
Editor, America's Horse magazine

Stay Safe – and Have Fun!

May 30, 2013

The June America’s Horse offers tips for a summer full of safe riding.

AH-Cover-June-2013If there’s a common theme in our newly released issue of America’s Horse, it’s this: staying safe.

It even starts with the cover of the June issue, which features a recreational rider decked out in his Sunday best – and wearing a properly fitted safety helmet. We know that helmet usage, especially in the western world, is optional. But staying safe is not.

Horse owners who aren’t secure in the saddle probably aren’t having fun. And that’s where we hope America’s Horse can help – providing advice and inspiration to keep our beginner riders on the path of progression and offering great reminders for those who are more experienced.

The first of a three-part “Back to Basics” series with AQHA Professional Horsewoman Julie Goodnight kicked off in June, with an examination of the rider’s proper position. The alignment of ears, shoulder, hips and heels keeps you balanced in the saddle, and it also helps you cue your horse more correctly. Julie, who wears a helmet while riding, says it’s not just about sitting pretty. Sitting in an aligned position actually makes it easier to stay on board.

We’ve got trail-riding safety tips from AQHA Professional Horsemen Bob Jeffreys and Suzanne Sheppard. Because after all, being prepared always makes you feel more confident. Here’s one of their gems: “If you ride with friends, have a prearranged meeting place should something unforeseen force you to scatter in different directions (bee or wasp attacks, for instance). Anyone who is allergic to insect bites or stings should carry the appropriate medication.”

Although colt-starting certainly isn’t something for beginners, riders of all levels will be interested to see how some veteran horsemen worked to keep their colts calm – and themselves safe – in “Staying This Side of Trouble.” While participating in the Horsemen’s Reunion colt-starting event, Buster McLaury, Wade Black and Ty Van Norman found themselves working with some very sensitive, reactive colts – the kind who might have put on a bucking-horse show if left to their own devices. But these men, all of whom learned from renowned horseman Ray Hunt, gave the colts a better and safer introduction to their new life with humans.

A slightly different angle on horse safety comes in “Chasing Chariots,” a profile on two outriders who fulfill a vital role at the chariot tracks. “In this sport, it’s not if it’s going to happen; it’s when and where it’s going to happen,” one outrider said. “And you’ve just got to be prepared for it.” The outriders are there to help, whether it’s with a team that gets away from its driver, or even a driver who is jerked out of his cart by the explosive start of his team from the gate.

Now, of course, a magazine can’t offer hands-on help. If that’s what you need to stay safe with your horse, AQHA can direct you to some expert boots on the ground. The AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Association is a group of trustworthy experts. Many of them specialize in preparing your horse for competition, but they can also help with basic training needs. Also on that page, you’ll find a link to the Certified Horsemanship Association, which is an AQHA alliance partner. CHA instructors focus on safety and horsemanship education.

And for those AQHA members who are working to get better with their horses – learning more and staying safe as they go – America’s Horse will be riding along beside you, offering basic stories on horse health and training and, as always, the human-interest stories that make you feel like part of a really cool community, the American Quarter Horse world.

America’s Horse is delivered to AQHA members 10 times a year, as part of their member benefits. Members can also access a digital edition of the magazine. Go to www.aqha.com/americashorse to download the digital version or to find links to purchase or renew an AQHA membership. Our membership web page, www.aqha.com/membership, will give you the low-down on all the other great member benefits.

Happy riding — and reading!

Holly Clanahan

Holly Clanahan
Editor, America's Horse magazine

TV Personalities

April 29, 2013

The stars of the May America’s Horse go from the pages of the magazine to the small screen and back again.

AH-Cover-May-2013-forwebAs the May issue of America’s Horse hits mailboxes across the world, it’s fun to see some of our featured horse people show up on TV screens across the world, too.

One was a rather unexpected inclusion: Horseman Guy McLean – featured in America’s Horse for winning the Road to the Horse colt-starting championship in March – appeared on a recent episode of National Geographic’s “Brain Games” TV series. The show, which examines the mysteries of the human brain, had a crew at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, filming footage that would illustrate an episode on time.

“See how the brain can actually warp and shift time, giving a false impression of the order and the speed of events,” the show’s webpage says. A roughstock rider’s eight-second ride that seems to last for an eternity would be an example of that.

Guy’s wife, Emily, says that he was riding in a nearby arena – being on site to do exhibitions for one of his sponsors – when he caught the eye of a National Geographic cameraman. Before you knew it, the film crew was drawn to him and filmed some slow-motion footage of him cantering in place aboard his horse, Spinabbey. Guy said on his Facebook page that he was doing so – and even jumping in place – less than a foot in front of a $280,000 camera.

As a sidenote, Emily says that Streakin Cat – the 2013 Road to the Horse champion and Four Sixes Ranch-bred American Quarter Horse whom Guy has nicknamed “Mate” – is doing fabulously. Look for an update on their partnership in an upcoming issue of America’s Horse.

Another America’s-Horse-subject-turned-TV-star is country artist Templeton Thompson, who has an interview on GAC-TV’s “Daily Countdown” Tuesday, April 30. Check your local listings for show times.

Her video “When I Get That Pony Rode” has made the fan-voted “Daily Countdown” for seven weeks in a row. The behind-the-scenes making of that video was the subject of the America’s Horse story in May. (See, we knew it was going to be big!) We were drawn to it not only because of the horse-centric lyrics, but because Templeton’s two American Quarter Horses are stars of the video. Impressive Beau Star and Elle Bar Conclusion are her “beautiful babies,” and the video features gorgeous footage of Templeton riding them in harmony.

You’ll have to check out the magazine to see how Templeton and team got these well-behaved ponies to buck and rear to portray the difficult horse the song speaks of.

The video was directed by Cindy Meehl, who has been featured in America’s Horse as the director of the “Buck” documentary on Buck Brannaman.

“When I Get That Pony Rode” world premiered on CMT.com in February as part of CMT’s Independent’s Day online feature and has more than 17,000 streams. It placed No. 1 in streamed videos on the day of the premiere.

In addition to GAC and CMT.com, the video is airing on The Country Network and TNN.

And another of our America’s Horse subjects, Peggy Kessler, actually caught our attention when we saw her television commercial for Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

With the help of CTCA and inspiration from her American Quarter Horse, Miss Quixote Driftwood, Peggy conquered an inoperable form of cancer and now is featured as a success story. The commercial features her and “Cider” trail-riding in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

“Horses are a godsend,” Peggy says. “To be able to relax and be around them, kind of forget about things, to go out and just be with them – you’re in your own world at the time, and things are good.”

That’s great advice no matter what kind of battles you’re fighting.

Other stories you won’t want to miss from the May issue of America’s Horse:

  • Photograph the West alongside the renowned David Stoecklein, who captured our breath-taking cover shot of a silhouetted herd.
  • AQHA Trail Challenges are a great way to enjoy your horse and the great outdoors, and the May issue includes the second part of a training series on preparing your horse to compete in one.
  • Does your horse gain weight on air? SmartPak veterinarian Dr. Lydia Gray helps America’s Horse readers understand why some horses are like that and how the condition can be managed.
  • We all know horses are good for the mind. But one Arizona facility has capitalized on that knowledge, using equine therapy to help address mental health issues.
  • Noah Vail (yes, that’s really his registered name) is an American Quarter Horse author, with the assistance of his owner, Mary Farr. She uses his sweet-but-complicated personality to give voice to some humorous stories and wise observations. The book is “Never Say Neigh: An adventure in fun, funny and the power of yes.”

Remember that America’s Horse magazine is just one of the great benefits of AQHA membership. Click here to join AQHA or learn more!

Holly Clanahan

Holly Clanahan
Editor, America's Horse magazine

Staying This Side of Trouble

April 17, 2013

Using patience and smarts to start colts at the 2013 Horsemen’s Reunion.

By Holly Clanahan

It was an almost constant occurrance to see the horsemen and women petting their colts to reassure them. Here, Wade Black, at left on his saddle horse, helps Buster McLaury show this colt that he has nothing to fear from them.

It was an almost constant occurrance to see the horsemen and women petting their colts to reassure them. Here, Wade Black, at left on his saddle horse, helps Buster McLaury show this colt that he has nothing to fear from them. Holly Clanahan photo.

Horseman Buster McLaury summed it up neatly: “It don’t take a good hand to get a horse in trouble; it’s easy to scare one. But it takes a little more understanding to help a horse stay out of trouble.”

And so it goes with colt-starting. When young horses — hard-wired with a healthy flight response for self-preservation — are faced with two-legged predators who want to put a dead cow on their backs, it’d be a very simple matter to put on a bucking-horse show. It’s another matter altogether to make it look smooth and simple. That, my friends, takes a good hand. And there were plenty of them on display at the Horsemen’s Reunion, which continues through Saturday in Paso Robles, California.

The event, produced by Martin Black, Chris Cox and Rowly and Cathie Twisselman, brings together 20 horsemen and women to start 40 colts over the course of six days. There’s no competition and no time limits, just colt-starting as the horsemen would do it at home. The only difference is that here, they are joined by skilled peers who are happy to pitch in and help if it means keeping a colt out of trouble.

Buster was on both the giving and receiving end of that help. During the morning session on Tuesday, the second day of the event, he and Wade Black helped Ty Van Norman with a reactive little sorrel mare from the Singleton Ranches. Handled with a rough or rushed hand, she easily could have been a major problem. But the three horsemen helped slow things down for her, so that she was able to think instead of just react, and Ty was able to get a good ride in on her. She threw a couple of small bucks in, but Ty was ready for those — it was what they’d been preparing for — and the men ended on a successful note. See the slideshow below for more details on SCR Cat Express, and remember to click on the photos to read the descriptive captions.

Tuesday afternoon, Buster began working with the uniquely colored bay roan SCR True Grit, also a Singleton horse. The gelding was sensitive and extremely reactive to the cinch and the rider’s legs, Buster said. So he worked the gelding on the ground and then enlisted Wade’s help to pony the horse. It got the gelding moving out, but Wade and his good saddle horse acted as a safety net and brake so that the horse didn’t develop a habit of bucking.

Read the rest of this entry »