Different backgrounds, varied philosophies on training and distinct personalities. That’s what makes it so interesting to talk with clinicians Pat Parelli, Chris Cox and Clinton Anderson, who will be competing in February at Road to the Horse in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I visited with all of them for an article in the February issue, which will be out soon.
I had met Chris and Clinton before, and in fact had worked with them on articles for another publication, but hadn’t had the opportunity to talk with Pat. It was fascinating to hear from all three and learn more about their backgrounds and ideas, including what they think about starting colts in such a public format. The annual event has had a few critics who say the time allotted isn’t enough to give the colts a chance to learn, and might result in them being pushed too hard. But as all three pointed out, a trainer can only ask a horse for so much before it just plain doesn’t work. As Chris says, “the horse is a humbling creature.” So they’ll all take it slow and try to accomplish as much as they can in the time they’re allowed.
There will be plenty of people in the audience soaking up the knowledge these three guys are sharing (the event is sold out, but you can still get access to the webcast), but there’s no doubt they also will pick up something new themselves. Each horse teaches us different things.
What’s been heartening to me lately are the attitudes of clinicians and trainers themselves. None are afraid to admit they don’t know everything. Many get help from other respected horsemen and horsewomen. They’re willing to change and bend their attitudes and actions to make things work more smoothly for them and their horses. They’re already successful, but they want to keep getting better.
I know trainers in the cutting, cow horse and reining worlds who work with each other when they have a challenging horse or a problem they just can’t quite solve, or need feedback on how to put the finishing touches on one before a big show. It’s the only way to get better and get past the roadblocks that every horse person comes across at one time or another. And face it: If you’re one of those people who swear you can do it yourself and you don’t need anyone’s help, you might just benefit from a little guidance! Sometimes it just takes a bit of direction or one suggestion to make a breakthrough.
I hope you’ll have a chance to go to Road to the Horse or watch the webcast, or participate in a clinic near you, whether it’s with Clinton, Chris or Pat, or with another knowledgeable clinician or trainer. The opportunities are out there. Discover things you don’t know, take with you what you can use, and most important, continue to learn. That’s the only way we’ll ever get to be true horsemen and not just passengers on our horses.