Trainer of the North: A Journey in Horsemanship

The windows were rolled down and the tape deck was roaring!

Yep, it was one of those blue-sky days in August. The sun was shining, the scenery was rocking and I was hauling on down the road.
I was on my way to Smithers BC where I was invited to participate in the Trainer of the North Challenge.

Now I have to tell you that I’ve got good stamina but after twelve hours of driving and grooving to the music, I can honestly say my buzz was starting to wear thin. Let me tell you I was more than elated when I finally reached my destination. Hello Smithers!

I slept in my horse trailer – I love doing that – it’s like camping out – so much fun. Got up the next morning and got everything set up and ready for the challenge. I was a day early so I had plenty of time to relax, check things out and meet the organizers of the challenge. Geri Brown is the woman in charge and her right hand man is Harley. Very nice people who made a person feel right at home.

As usual, the three trainers in the challenge had to draw for their horses. I drew a Bay filly by the name of Cookie. What a cutie she was. I’ve always said the toughest horses to train are horses that won’t move their feet forward. Let me tell you that Cookie lived up to her name because getting her to mover her feet was about as easy as trying to roll a marble through cookie dough – very sticky.

To make a long story short, my round pen sessions with Cookie were slow. The good news is that she got better and better with each session. Her confidence was growing and the connection between us was getting stronger and stronger. In my eye’s Cookie was doing fantastic.

As we entered into the finals there was no way for me to make enough points to win the judges score card. So, I walked out into that arena and told the audience I was there to demonstrate good sportsman and more importantly to show them how far along Cookie had actually come. Even though I didn’t get a chance to introduce all of the obstacles to Cookie in my round pen sessions she went ahead and amazed everyone in the finals.

Cookie showed like a champion! She went out there and walked over the bridge, walked over the plastic tarp, dragged a pole, stepped over the logs and jumped into the horse trailer – not to mention that she did everything else we were required to do – she even picked up a loped for me. Hurray for Cookie!

In review, I can honestly say that a person is given a huge opportunity to expand their knowledge and grow as a horseman when competing in a Trainer Challenge. I know I certainly did.

I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun doing the challenge and I felt extremely proud of Cookie. No doubt, winning the three judges’ vote is truly an honor. However, winning the audience’s vote adds up to bigger numbers. People’s choice is huge and as trainer it is something I look forward to winning. So, on that note I’d like to thank all those folks up there in Smithers for the support they gave to Cookie and myself.

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