Van Hargis Prepares for Road to the Horse

The challenge is on. Four clinicians are revving up for the 2006 colt starting challenge. On February 25 and 26, Craig Cameron, Van Hargis, Martin Black and a mystery trainer (to be named this weekend on The Horse Show with Rick Lamb) will meet in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to show their best horse-whispering work. In justThe challenge is on. Four clinicians are revving up for the 2006 colt starting challenge. On February 25 and 26, Craig Cameron, Van Hargis, Martin Black and a mystery trainer (to be named this weekend on The Horse Show with Rick Lamb) will meet in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to show their best horse-whispering work. In just

Story originally posted by Horsecity.com Staff

Van Hargis, prepares for the next Road to the Horse Competition.

The challenge is on. Four clinicians are revving up for the 2006 colt starting challenge. On February 25 and 26, Craig Cameron, Van Hargis, Martin Black and a mystery trainer (to be named this weekend on The Horse Show with Rick Lamb) will meet in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to show their best horse-whispering work. In just two days’ time, they’ll train and ride four previously un-touched young colts.

What are the trainers doing to get ready? We’ll chat with each clinician to find out how they got started in the horse training biz, why they want to be a part of Road to the Horse, and what they have to say about the competition. Check out www.roadtothehorse.com and click on "media" to read interviews with Craig Cameron and Martin Black. Here’s Van Hargis in the third edition of our alphabetically ordered interviews.

Now more from Road to the Horse veteran Van Hargis of Sulphur Springs, TX:

When did you train your first colt? Where were you? How old were you?

The first horse I ever trained for money was when I was 12 years old. It was for the wife of world-renowned saddle maker Billy Cook. I rode the filly all summer and when I got paid to do it I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Gettin’ paid to ride and have fun. What a cool concept.

How many colts have your started in your lifetime-round about?

I have no idea about the actual number of horses I have ridden and/or started over the years. However, many years ago when I started hitting the road pretty hard I did count the number of colts that I rode and started just that one year. The number was an astounding 1033 head of colts. If one does the math, that averages out to getting on almost three horses per day. At some of the clinics and ranches I remember getting on as many as 9 to 10 head in one day. That was the first and last year I kept up with all the colts. Thank God I have not started that many colts in one year since. I am grateful for all the experience though.

What horse gave you the most trouble?

I’ve had very little trouble with any horse that I started myself. The horses that have been previously handled by others have been my toughest projects. The toughest horse I ever had from scratch was the filly I drew at the 2005 Road to the Horse competition. She was the first horse in 12 years that I was not able to get a saddle on in about an hour’s time. That’s why I was so pleased with her accomplishments by the end of the competition. What a nice filly she turned out to be. I’m honored that I had the chance to start her.

What do you do when you run into trouble?

With any horse that has been a little tougher than most I keep reminding myself of the things that has always worked. Time and patience, consistency and persistence have never failed me. I am very confident in my ability to read a colt and help it make good decisions. I constantly think of all the things that have been shared with me by some of the greatest horsemen in our time.

What do you remember most about the 2005 RTTH?
At last year’s Road to the Horse, the most memorable moment for me and the emotional moment was when I finally mounted my filly for the first time. Upon dismounting the audience stood to their feet in appreciation of the work the filly and I had done up to that point. Had I not been so busy, I would have shed tears for sure. I am so grateful to the audience for recognizing the efforts-mine and the filly’s.

How are you preparing for this year’s event?

There is no way I can begin to strategize about the 2006 Road to the Horse until I step into the round pen with the horse I draw. Though I have a goal of what I would like to accomplish I cannot develop a plan until I see what the horse will need to get to where we both need to be. I have never made a horse fit my program. As a true horseman I adjust to the horse and do what ever I need to do to help the horse.

What cowboy mentors do you study or look up to?

Every horseman I have ever shared much time with has given me something to help me be a better horseman. Several years ago I traveled to Jack Brainard’s Diamond B Ranch in Aubrey, TX to see Mr. Tom Dorrance. He shared a quote with me that has helped me tremendously, "reward the thought" he said to me. Since the time I was a child I admired Jack Brainard as a horseman. A local gentleman by the name of Leaton Ely helped me in more ways than he’ll ever know. Mr. Craig Cameron inspired me several years ago. I have learned a great deal by watching Mr. Curt Pate and sharing discussions with him. Mr. Michael Richardson has inspired me to be a better thinker in my approach to horsemanship and seeing things a little more from the spiritual side of horsemanship. There has been numerous folks from the performance horse industry that have helped me develop a colt starting program geared toward getting young horses ready for the demands of the performance arena. Establish the correct things in the first few rides and it does nothing but get better as the training gets refined.

What horse-related magazines do you get at your house?

Western Horseman, Quarter Horse News, Quarter Horse Journal, America’s Horse, Working Horse and Horse & Rider.

What horse related TV shows do you watch?

I rarely watch RFD-TV. Though I have great respect for most of the trainers/clinicians on RFD-TV.

What’s different when you train a horse at RTTH versus how you train at home?

The difference in the way I train at home versus at RTTH or any other colt starting presentation that I do throughout the year is TIME. At home I am even more slow and methodical to make sure the colt has absolute confidence in me and everything he/she is learning.

What do you want people to know about the event?

I’d like people to keep in mind that the presenters are horsemen. Our first and most important priority is the horse and not our own personal glory. Though we will all be trying to do our best and win the "competition" we are there to represent the horse the industry and the heritage and the culture. We are there to be true to the horse. This is an opportunity to learn true horsemanship from great stewards of the horse and all it represents in our country.

I was honored to be a part of RTTH in 2005 because I think it is a great format to give audiences and horse enthusiast a unique opportunity to see how the best in their field handle three very different colts and situations. There are few distractions at this event to keep people away from watching with great intensity. I wanted to be a part of RTTH to do my part to pay a tribute to TRUE horsemen… past and present.

What do you want people to know about your training methods?

My training methods are true and honest. I have no gimmicks or tricks and with everything I do I honor my teacher/student…the horse. My program always fits the needs of the horse and the situation to which we find ourselves in. My goal is to always win the trust and respect of the horse so that he/she will gladly accept me as a worthy and honest leader.

Any friendly warnings or words of wisdom for your competitors?

My only comments to the other participants are to be true to the horse and to proudly honor our culture of horsemanship. And have FUN!

For more information about Road to the Horse, and to purchase tickets, visit www.roadtothehorse.com, or call 325-736-5000. Tickets are buy one get one free through December 1, 2005.

Read the inverview with Martin Black.
Read the invterview with Craig Cameron.