Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I am Awestruck by This Level of Horse Training

Have you seen the details of the Extreme Cowboy Association's events originated by Craig Cameron? This new challenge in horse training leaves me breathless and awestruck. I used to think my horses were pretty broke and that my horse training techniques were pretty solid ... until I saw the myriad details of this challenge. If you think ranch horse versatility is challenging, just wait until you look at this deal.

What's in an Extreme Cowboy Association Event?
The variety of tasks that this horse training challenge demands is incredible. Your horse has to be able to do everything from work regular "trail" obstacles (gates, bridges, poles, and backing around obstacles) to cowboy mounted shooting, penning and sorting cows, and jumping. If you thought ranch horse versatility was difficult, imagine having to do any number of these obstacles:

Archery shooting
Backing up and down hills

Bareback riding with one or two riders

Jumping barrels or running barrels

Sorting cows

Keyhole race

Leading your horse blindfolded or across water


Ponying another horse

Mounted shooting

Riding over a teeter totter

Standing up in the saddle and hitting a tennis ball

Ride through deep and shallow water

... and that's just a short section of the list! You can read the complete list here.

Extreme Cowboy Association Events: Not for Every Horse
Of course, this challenge isn't meant for every horse and rider. After all, it's called the Extreme Cowboy Association for a reason. However, even if you have no intention of competing in these events, the format provides a great roadmap and blueprint for horse training. If you can get your horse calm and broke enough to do even one-tenth of these obstacles, then your horse will be far more broke for any discipline you choose.

Many of the horse trainers I have ridden with have told me that it's not the most talented horse that usually wins at the show, but the most broke horse that wins. I agree. The most broke horse will be more consistent more often than the merely talented horse. The talented horse may have more ability, but often extreme talent is paired with an extreme personality, making the talented horse a challenge to ride.

In Pursuit of Inexpensive Horse Activities
As always, the blueprint of activities listed in the Extreme Cowboy Association event excites me because it gives me yet one more tool to add to my toolbox of inexpensive horse activities to pursue while the economy is floundering around. I don't know where your focus is this year for horse training, but my goal is to get my four horses as broke as possible so that they can easily enter any event, be it team penning and sorting, jumping, roping, cowboy mounted shooting, or plain old trail riding.

I've already gotten started with my two new activities: shooting and roping. Whether or not I decide to ever pursue cowboy mounted shooting or roping, I figure that any horse is going to be more broke, more useful, and more valuable if you can rope and shoot from his back.

I'm always looking for new ways of horse training that are inexpensive, fun, and productive. The quest continues ...

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Photo credit: Extreme Cowboy Association

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