How did you get into cow horse?
“I always did the cow horse when I was a youth kid at 8 or 9 years old… My dad was a horse trainer so my chore when I got home from school was to go out and ride the 2 year olds so I always did it. But we had cow horses and cutters at the time… there was a stint there from when I was 15-20 where I just rode bulls and rodeoed and then I got back into riding.”
Who did you work for?
” My dad was out in California, Don Dodge, Gary Bellenfant…”
What is your favorite quote?
“They are creatures of habit. You just got to keep showing them the same thing every time. If you keep that in mind, you keep your program the same and the horse will get that muscle memory going which is a good thing.”
What is your most memorable moment in the sport?
“Probably winning the World’s Greatest Horseman event [in 2010]… I went 3 times and won it the third time.”
What would you say is the biggest myth about cow horse?
“A lot of people worry about it being dangerous to go down the fence. And I really don’t think it is, I mean it can be if you are doing it wrong. If the horse is well trained and…you’re in the correct position …any horse can trip or slip there’s always people that worry about it being scary… I don’t think it dangerous when you know what you are doing and you are keeping your horse in the correct position. And we spend a lot of time teaching the horses to get to where you can get them on and off the cow easy. That way if a cow is starting to cut you off, you don’t have to let that cow get up under the front end of your horse and trip you…”
Any advice for up and coming trainers?
” The best advice I could give is to stay humble, and work hard at it, and try to keep an open mind, and watch the other guys that are successful, and see what they are doing. As long as I have been in it, things have changed so much. If you don’t keep and eye on whats out there what the judges are looking for, you just have to stay real focused on what’s happening around you and not get tied up in your own little thing and think you already know it. But just stay humble, work hard and treat your horses right and I think you’ll be alright…Take your time and learn. I see a lot of guys that hang their sign up and try to go on their own. I think it’s a good idea to work for somebody that’s successful for awhile and maybe even a couple of different guys. Just take your time and learn it the right way. Just don’t be in a rush. I was fortunate enough to learn from a lot of different guys… I still try to pick up stuff from people. There’s tons of guys out there that I respect that I talk to about different training methods… at every horse show. Just have to keep trying to improve.”
What is the best piece of advice you could offer a non-pro or amateur that is just getting into this sport?
“Pick a trainer that will fit your personality and what your goals are and try to stick with that person as long as you can. And get a set program going and allow that trainer to do a good job preparing your horse and try to learn how to show the horse and present the horse. I know a lot of non-pros try to do it themselves and normally those aren’t the successful ones. That professional is there for them, and they might as well take advantage of it.”