Want To Win At The Horse Shows? Here’s An Important Lesson To Learn!
Dear Friend and Horseman,
Larry Trocha here with another “Horse Training Tips Insider”.
Actually, this issue is more of an “Important Lesson Learned” than a training tip.
Okay, let’s get started.
I’d like to tell you about the time I hired on as a colt starter for a big outfit in northern Florida. My mother was living in Florida at the time and I went there to stay with her and her husband.
I didn’t go there by choice though.
No, I went there because I needed a place to heal up. I was pretty crippled up from my previous job as a colt starter for an outfit in Montana.
That Montana job was a nightmare.
I learned a bunch, but almost got killed in the process. I was a wet-behind-the-ears kid, starting around 40 head of wild, 3 to 5-year-olds that almost never had a human hand laid on them. Most of those broncs were wild, rank and down right dangerous.
I was in way over my head but gave it my best shot.
Anyway, I’m getting off track. Montana is another story, let’s get back to Florida.
So after I healed up, I hired on to start colts for this big outfit in Florida. I always thought of Florida as a big golf course, all green, manicured and inhabited only by retired senior citizens. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Florida is loaded with big cattle ranches. The ranch I went to work for ran 10,000 head of cattle on 30,000 acres of pasture and feed lot. They also had around 100 head of horses. But these weren’t your typical, run-of-the-mill ranch horses.
No way, this outfit owned two NCHA world champion mares and several AQHA champion mares plus other mares carrying top performance bloodlines.
They also had owned Hollywood Bill, the best breeding son of the legendary Hollywood Gold. Most of the colts I started there were the offspring of Hollywood Bill and out of their champion mares.
Man, those were good colts!
I was just starting out and literally didn’t have any legitimate training knowledge. Yet, in spite of my lack of training expertise, those colts turned out great.
For example, I had never trained or even ridden a cutting horse before, but all of those colts were working cattle well in a matter of weeks. I had never ridden or trained a reining horse before, yet all of these colts would stop and turn around.
The ranch manager asked me to train a couple colts for him and his wife to show at the Florida Gold Coast Pleasure Futurity.
If you aren’t familiar with this futurity, back in the mid 70’s, it was a really big deal. All the top pleasure horse and AQHA trainers across the U.S. competed there.
Even though I had no idea how to train a pleasure futurity horse, I agreed to give it a shot. All I knew was that a pleasure horse was supposed to keep his head low and walk, trot and lope real slow. I had 90 days to get two colts ready.
I figured there was no way. I didn’t feel pressured though because I was up-front with the ranch manager. I admitted to him I didn’t have a clue. He told me to just do my best and if it didn’t work out, oh well.
You know what I did to get those two colts prepared for the pleasure futurity? I rode them in the pastures checking cattle. I walked, trotted and loped them for long periods at a time so they would get tired, learn to relax and slow down. That was it.
That was all I did with those colts cause I didn’t know anything else. And you know what, after a couple months, they kinda started acting like pleasure horses.
Finally, the day of the futurity arrived. It was two go-rounds and a finals.
I don’t remember exactly how many entries there were but it was a lot. I was sitting in the grandstands watching and figured with all those top trainers and expensive show colts entered, the futurity would be a total bomb-out for us.
To my surprise, the ranch manager and his wife took those two colts and beat most of the competition.
He made the finals and placed 5th. His wife placed 9th in the finals. I couldn’t believe it. I was thrilled and so was my boss and his wife.
Now, I didn’t tell you this story just to entertain you. No, I told the story to illustrate an important point which a lot of people just never get.
If you have an exceptionally good horse… You don’t have to be a top trainer to win something big!
I knew nothing about training a pleasure horse, yet the two colts I trained, kicked ass at the show. Why? Because they were exceptionally good colts. And I can point out example after example of the same kind of experience I’ve had with other good horses.
Having an exceptionally good horse is the key to success.
I’m not going to name any names but there are people out there winning at the shows, who couldn’t train a fish to swim, let alone a performance horse. Yet, these people win over and over again.
How do they do it?
Here’s how… They are wise enough to make sure they’re mounted on exceptionally good horses.
To my way of thinking, those folks a really smart.
I’ve trained plenty of top performance horses and have done my share of winning at the shows. However, I’ll be the first to tell you that I won’t win much if I’m showing just an “average” horse.
The competition is just too tough. If you want a shot at winning, you better be riding something that’s pretty darn good.
Unfortunately, when it comes to winning, a lot of folks have their priorities mixed up.
I’ll see someone pull into the show grounds driving a $100,000 truck and trailer, but inside that trailer will be a low-quality, $6,000 show horse that isn’t even close to being good enough to win.
It doesn’t make any sense!
If you want to WIN, spend your money on the horse, NOT on the truck and trailer. Nobody will laugh at you for driving a piece-of-crap truck if you’re leaving the show-grounds with the winning check in your pocket!
Until next time, have fun training your horse.