Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trainer's Challenge

The Trainer's Challenge is something we have all come to enjoy at most expos. If you haven't seen one, the premise is simple. Selected trainers take unbroke horses and see what they can produce after 3 days of training. The challenge usually has a judging criteria, 10% horse, 60% trainer's ability to train the horse, and 30% the trainer's ability to translate to the public. The three contestants at The Mane Event this year were, Ken McNabb of RFD fame, Martin Black out of Idaho, and Bruce Logan out of Texas.

They all did a good job, but one really, really impressed me, Bruce Logan. This cowboy was so soft and he took everything the horse offered, allowing it to figure out how to do things correctly. It was amazing to watch and so different from the other two. It is no wonder; he trained under Ronnie Willis. For Bruce, the horse was checked in the whole time and there was language developing between the two. As the horse worked around the arena, you could see his confidence building and he was willing to let Bruce guild him over obstacles. That horse was becoming "solid." What a great foundation for that horse to start with. Way to go Bruce...I like what you are doing for the horse world!

Ken did a good job, but he seemed more concerned about the clock and talking to the judges...it almost seemed like he was bored with the whole thing. I know he does good work and I appreciate that he plugs People Helping Horses, but it just didn't seem like his heart was in it.

Martin Black, was the one I liked the least and yes, he won. He seemed like a decent guy, his methods just aren't in line with the way I like to see people work with horses. I know these guys have three days to get the horses as far as they can, and it is a competition. Everything they did was impressive, but just because a horse does something, doesn't mean it was done right. Martin's horse whinnied the whole time, raced around the arena, sweated out, and it seemed that he had a death grip on the reins. The horse did everything he wanted, but it felt forced. He was a bit more of a showman and won over the crowd.

At this point in my life, I just prefer watching the building of a relationship between horse and human over force and acceptance. I was bummed the judges didn't see what I saw, but the crowd was happy. They got their hero, but it made me sad to see yet another equine competition won by quantity not quality. I hope you all read up on Bruce..he really impressed me. Bruce Logan has a new fan and I wish him much success in the future. Go check out his website and learn more about him.

7 comments:

Lori Skoog said...

I agree with your philosophy! Must have been interesting to watch.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I agree with you. I would have been rooting for Bruce to win also. It's a shame the judges don't get it and reward the best guy. I'll have to check out Bruce's website.

jennybean79 said...

I agree with you too, good insight.

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Bruce sounds like a gem. Unfortunately he also sounds like he's outnumbered. Lets all get together and vote for Bruce (or get him to run of something so we can vote for him!)

Kate said...

Thanks for the trainer reviews - I think a lot of people, in all disciplines, are rewarded for "flash". I'm with you - it's the slow careful relationship building that's the real deal.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

Gah!!! I missed the trainers challenge for the first time in years and I hear it was a good one. I almost always leave frustrated with the judges choice...it is the SAME judges every single year and they are all a bunch of old school cowboys. It drives me NUTS!! lol They always pick the trainer that is the most...hard assed?!! You know what I mean. There was one year where I felt like going up to the one judge and slapping my hand on the table to wake him up. He was SO uninterested in this (natural style) trainer and he didnt try to hide it even though the guy was entertaining. No doubt they are nice men but I dont think they are an open minded bunch!!! I heard a few people say that Martin Black was not in tune with his horse and that horse was the most stressed out of the three. I wish I could have seen Ken McNabb. I'm thinking of ordering the DVDs... and writing the producers and telling them to get some judges that are with the times!

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

Totally on board with you too:) I would have loved to see some before and after footage.