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Horsemen of the Re-Union

Published: 5/14/2012
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By Maddy Butcher

Some quick impressions of the horsemen at the Horsemen’s Re-Union

Pat Parelli “I’m old and I’m chicken.”
That’s what he told emcee Larry Mahan and hundreds of spectators when asked why he wasn’t starting his own colts like everyone else. He had his apprentice do it. Parelli ducked out of a lot of the work but didn’t mind putting himself in front of the camera as often as possible.
Gotta give him credit, though, Parelli held his own in the after-hours events (roping and branding) and withstood the emcees’ ribbing with a smile.

Clayton Anderson – Protégé of Chris Cox, smooth and calm. One of my favorite images (at right) was taken on Day Four when everyone moved outdoors to the huge main fairgrounds arena. Anderson worked with his beautiful young filly for an hour, on the ground and in the saddle. Then he took off all the gear and just hung out, relaxing by draping his tall frame over her back. She stood there, licking her lips and watching the controlled chaos around them. When he took off her rope halter and moved away, she followed.
This was the same filly who reminded him of a wild horse when asked about her by emcee Russell Dilday on Day Two.
Said Anderson: “She’s sensitive, like a mustang. Their awareness is a lot greater than domestic horses. So more time is necessary and more reinforcement is necessary.”

Jim and Luke Neubert – sons of Bryan Neubert. These guys are polite, good-lookin', and fantastic horsemen. The week must have been a welcome pause for them as they’re accustomed to traveling from ranch to ranch, starting scores of colts. They only had two a piece, but their no-nonsense, time’s-a-wastin’ approach showed through all the same.

By Day Four, Luke was sacking out his colt. Oh, but this was Extreme Sacking Out:
Pulling a heavy sack behind and in front of his horse in an arena full of young horses, a few cows, barrels, and assorted obstacles. The horse took a while to figure out that the bundle pursuing him didn’t want to eat him. We saw Luke galloping whilst flipping the rope from one side to the other as the horse dashed and skittered. When the horse let himself get a good look at the sack, Luke just let him set for a while. After the recess, the pair trotted along the perimeter, pulling the sack like a toddler might drag his baby blanket. No big deal.

Ron Wall – first there’s his hat. Fellow Australian Ken May (who, by the way, was the only horseman with a female apprentice. Kudos, Ken!) jokingly told me it belonged to Wall’s mother and she had passed it on to Ron. It’s dirty, misshaped, unconventional.
Then there’s the rest of his get-up:
Wall doesn’t wear chinks or chaps. And his boots look like Wallabies or maybe old school Timberlands. Sometimes his jeans catch on the top of them. Sometimes they don’t.
He makes no secret of his self-described ‘filthy habits’ of smoking and having a few pops.

But when it came to horsemanship, the man was one of the strongest I’ve ever seen.

Typically, Wall likes to lay down a horse on Day Two. He does so with patience and grace. The horses I saw him work with never seemed panicked or overly-stressed.
Martin Black was asked when he knows laying down has been a good experience for the horse:
“When he looks around, sticks one of this front feet forward and then the other and takes his time getting up,” he said.

That’s what happened with Wall’s horses.
There was a peaceful, zen-like flow to all of Wall’s sessions. He never moved suddenly. He rarely if ever made eye contact with his horses. He always let them find the answers on their own.

[Photos at right of Craig Cameron, letting his horse roll in main arena.]

Craig Cameron, like Parelli, withstood a lot of ‘old man’ and ‘this is live, not televised’ jokes and seemed to really enjoy the week. He had lots of nice things to say about the event and reflected over coffee one morning:
“It’s just a great atmosphere. We re not here just to visit. We’re here to work. But we get to visit each other and have a good time. They always say with horsemen, if you can’t laugh at each other and with each other, what’s the point anyway? We’re getting out there and having just a really good time. That’s important.
…It’s a cowboy brotherhood really. I think you have the truest disciples of great horsemanship here. These are guys that are really active in the business, taking it to the public, and showing them really the best way to handle horses.”

View Reader Comments:

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6/6/2012 Dr, Rebecca Gimenez
Nice to see an overview of all of these horsemen who are having a huge influence on horsemanship. I can't dis on any of them - they all have their positives and negatives - and all of them love the horses. It is about being better for HORSES.
9/5/2012 Sandra
Parelli was joking, of course. He's had some back issues, so a modicum of empathy might be appropriate here. Pat Parelli is an arrogant, overly zealous showman sometimes, but he's hands down the best horseman around. If he's not up to doing what's needed himself at times, he's certainly up to helping others know how.

   
"A horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care." - Pat Parelli