Straight out of high school in Idaho, Tyson Benson went to work for Corey Cushing in Arizona and stayed there for six years. His dad Rick had given Benson a solid foundation with horses and he spent time with Al Dunning and Bobby Ingersol at clinics alongside his dad. Benson went on to work for Darren Blanton, owner of High Brow Cat, for two years and then made the switch back to training mostly cow horses. Benson also spent a lot of time with TJ Good, Grant Setnicka, Paul Hansma and Hayden Upton.
When it comes to training horses, Benson believes a horse should be trained, “From the ground up…Just basic body control. Teaching them to accept you moving any part of their body and teaching them to take a hold of a cow. I think from there, you really can do anything you want to do with them.”
What quality must you have in a horse?
“The most important quality is the horse’s mind. Especially in a cow horse, the mind and overall athletic ability…[they have to be] willing to accept you helping through all three of those events.”
What have you learned or adjusted in your program in the past year?
“I’m really trying to balance a horse doing its job on a cow whether it be going down the fence or herd work — doing its job on its own. As well as being a little more broke to my hands and accepting my help in a soft, smooth manner. I think that’s one of the toughest [things to] balance. [You have to] be able to teach a horse to work a cow on its own and have them focus on you and listen to you enough to really be good in the rein work. As well as going down the fence and accepting your help. I think we all struggle with that, to a point.”
What is your most memorable moment?
“The Pre-Futurity last year I ended up third and I marked a 75 down the fence…It’s always fun when it comes together.”
What inspires you?
“Everyday there’s a new challenge with another horse. I think, for me, it’s going into it on each horse and knowing what should be better on that particular horse and then being able to test it out in the show pen and see where you’re at. For me, that’s the biggest drive. I haven’t ever really felt like I was competing against anyone else. I’ve always felt like I was competing against myself as a trainer and as a showman. I feel like if I am getting better everyday and if my horses are getting better everyday then I consider it a win…
“I’ve had so many incredible trainers help me on a daily basis. If I have a problem with a horse I can call a friend… It’s a big deal to me to have that many friends that are willing to help me. That’s a huge blessing.”
What are your goals?
“The two big goals I have for myself are to make the Open Futurity Finals. I made it once the last year I worked for Corey. That’s something that’s really big for me, to make the Open Finals on my own and also World’s Greatest Horseman. Long term, I would love to be able to win both of those events at least once.”
How would you define feel and can you teach feel?
“I don’t believe you can teach feel. I think it can be developed and improved the more you go but I don’t believe the initial natural feel someone has for a horse can be taught. “My dad does kids’ horsemanship camps in the summertime and it’s amazing some of those kids that come from the city that have never grown up around horses; you can see just how certain kids can naturally have a feel for a horse just being around them. Some kids are just oblivious to it…Anyone can do it and create some type of feel with work ethic and really paying attention to how a horse thinks and operates.”
Do you have hobbies outside of cow horses?
“I played sports in high school… But I really enjoy real estate. That’s another goal I would like to pursue, maybe get my real estate license someday.”