I have mixed feelings about the Road to the Horse colt-starting competition. On the one hand, it’s supposedly designed to promote gentle starting techniques and to show that force isn’t necessary to be effective. It’s been very successful in giving large audiences a taste of NH techniques. On the other hand, that seems like a very short amount of time and a huge amount of pressure for those young horses, and I wonder if that doesn’t come out somewhere down the line in their training. It would be interesting to see follow up on the horses that have been started in prior years.
At any rate, Chris Cox won for the second year in a row. I first saw Chris Cox at the Western States Horse Expo in 2006, and I wasn’t really wowed by him at the time. He had just come off of a major injury and now that I’ve seen a lot more of his work, I think he really wasn’t at his best that year. (In the video, Chris is talking but he has an assistant working with the horse because Chris was still on crutches.)
After seeing more of his training techniques, I’ve come to really like the way he works and his no-fuss, no-nonsense way of dealing with training issues. I saw an episode of his on RFD-TV where he worked with a high-level showjumper, and not only did he effectively deal with some of the horse’s issues (bracing, rushing the jumps), he also looked pretty good jumping. I really admire a trainer who comes from one background (Western, in his case) and can effectively transfer his knowledge to other disciplines. With Chris, it’s obvious that he also admires and enjoys seeing horses working well regardless of their discipline. That, to me, is the mark of a horseman. (He’ll be back at the WSHE this year, and I’m excited to see him. Jane Savoie, too!)
I’d be very interested in other people’s opinions about the Road to the Horse. Is it too much, too soon, or is it a great way to get the NH message out there? Or both?