Ryan Buckley likes a challenge. That’s why he lives on a ranch in the rugged territory of southeastern Colorado and runs cattle across those acres.
It also is why he’s excited to be part of the Colt Starting Challenge USA events, like the Yadkinville Colt Starting Challenge scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Lone Hickory Arena in Yadkinville from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, and 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $15 per person.
“I started off going to them to see how I’d do for myself,” said Buckley of Springfield, Colorado. “You don’t know how good you are until you’re tested, until you’ve had competition and see how you fare against people who do it.”
He’s learned he’s pretty good at it.
“I was really excited to be able to compete in one,” he said. “I’d seen some of the things that were similar on TV, and I realized that some of my training seemed similar.”
A year ago, he got the chance as a replacement during an event in Kingman, Kansas. He got the call on a Tuesday, then made quick reservations to be part of the competition on Friday and Saturday.
“I ended up tied for first place, so I started setting my sights on Vegas,” Buckley said, noting that the top trainers in the season standings earn the right to compete at the National Finals at Las Vegas in December in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo at the Cowboy Christmas Trade Show.
“I’m a little different than most guys in that I don’t make a living training horses. The ranch does most of that.”
Things go much faster during the Colt Starting Challenge USA events. Trainers will be matched with young horses that have had limited handling, had never been saddled nor bridled. They will work for two hours on the first day of the two-day competition. The second day will feature two 45-minute sessions. The final segment will feature trainers riding their colts through an obstacle course.
Trainers utilize natural horsemanship techniques, which utilize each animal’s natural instincts. That’s just the way Warrick Bergroth handles his business around his Lakewood, Colorado, home.
“Horses are an amazing animal,” said Bergroth, who moved to the United States from Australia more than 30 years ago to chase his rodeo dreams as a bronc rider. “It’s incredible seeing the results you can get. They’re cool creatures, and I think they’re misunderstood. A lot of people treat them like a machine, but they’re a thinking, breathing, decision-making individual.”
That realization has helped him as a trainer and competitor.
“I think every time you work with a horse, it helps you with something,” he said. “The more often you work with horses, the more often you can learn something.”
Now he hopes to earn enough points to secure his bid for the finals, the same competition that featured Buckley last December. In addition to winning in Kingman, he continued gathering points by winning the event in Durango, Colo. Now he utilizes some of those techniques on his family’s ranch.
And he’s having fun doing something he loves in front of an audience that enjoys it.
“One thing I really like is the camaraderie that is encouraged at these competitions,” Buckley said. “We’re competing against ourselves and our horse. We’re not competing against the other trainers. I’ve made some great friends out of the deal.”
For further information, see www.coltstartingchallengeusa.com.