Help Wanted! Horsemanship Journey
With Richard Winters
No, I don't need a stall cleaner or assistant trainer. However, it is true that I need help. I'm on a horsemanship journey and I've decided
that I cannot get there on my own. I'm constantly looking for individuals and situations that can help me improve my horsemanship skills
. In this article I want to share a few anecdotal stories that exemplify this idea.
I recently had a conversation with the father of a horse trainer that I know. I had mentioned I was getting ready to go and spend some
time with one of my mentors in hopes of getting help with my horsemanship. "I wish my son would do more of the same." He went on
to say, “He never seems willing to go to a clinic or take a lesson to seek out any help. I don't know if it's his pride or fear of
embarrassment. He's very talented. I know he could be even better. I'm afraid his attitude is holding him back." That's too bad. I don't want to be that guy.
I was recently at a big cow horse show and I saw three gentlemen on horseback having a conversation. Two of them were Hall of
Fame riders. The third was a younger up-and-coming star in the Western performance horse world. As I attempted to eavesdrop, I
was struck by the fact that the young man was not getting advice from them. They were listening to him! These two patriarchs
recognized this young man was doing some pretty cool things with his horses and they wanted to learn more about it. These men were
not too proud to continue learning and I was impressed by what I was observing.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to ride with my daughter Sarah who is a very successful reined cow horse trainer. While I was
working a cow, she gave me a tip on how I could cue my horse more with my legs instead of my hands. That little tip made a big
difference. That one observation and simple tip from a qualified horsewoman is still helping me with my horses today. Later I mentioned
to her, "Sarah, that one suggestion was worth the whole trip for me. If I hadn't been here you would not of seen it and you would not
have told me." Sarah gets that kind of help everyday at her training barn. Whether it's her husband or another qualified horseman, there
is a continual flow and sharing of ideas. No wonder she's better than me!
Doug Williamson, a million-dollar rider and Hall of Fame member of the National Reined Cow Horse Association is a good friend and
mentor of mine. As a young man, Doug used to rodeo and rope calves at amateur rodeos around the country. Some friends of his who
were going to professional rodeos encouraged him to get his card and join them on the road. "Only on my best day am I good enough
to compete against you guys. Why would I want to do that?" Doug asked. After much persuading he did get his professional card and
started traveling with those cowboys. He later looked back and realized the importance of that decision. He began hanging with
Ropers that were continually challenging him to be better. And he got better! What's the moral of the story for me? I've got to find opportunities to ride with people that are better than me.
A couple years ago our daughter Sarah married Mr. Chris Dawson. Chris has shown horses all his life and he's currently ranked the
number 2 rider in the world, according to the National Reined Cow Horse Association. Together, Chris and Sarah have a thriving
training business in Aubrey, Texas. Chris is originally from Nebraska and I recently asked him if he would ever consider moving back,
due to land prices being cheaper, to set up their training business. "I couldn't do it." He said, "I'm afraid I would get off track and lose
my edge. I need to be in the heart of horse country and surround myself with other horsemen who will challenge me to be better." If he needs that consistent help, what about you and me?
Maybe the title of this article needs to be changed. Instead of "Help Wanted" it should read "Help Needed”. Yes, we can learn things
on our own. And it is true that often times the horse is our best teacher. Yet, I'm going to continually look to others who are on this
horsemanship journey. And yes, it will be people who are farther along to help me in this process. Who's helping you?
Richard Winters Horsemanship WintersRanch.com