Interviews – John Lyons

 

John Lyons.

John Lyons.

In my career, I have many perks. One of them includes the opportunity to interview people in the horse industry. People who making a difference. People who are famous. People who are exciting. And people who are just amazing with horses. In March 2008, I had a thrilling opportunity to sit down with John Lyons, America’s most trusted horseman. Here is the interview that resulted from that visit:

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Q – Why did you choose horses as a vocation?

JL – I had a cattle ranch in the 70s and I went broke ranching. I was already showing horses at that time and I had enough people coming to me wanting to know how to do what I did with horses. Then I went to a horse clinic – while I was going broke – and thought it was extremely dangerous. I saw people getting bucked off and hurt and what I learned was how badly people wanted to learn. I didn’t think I needed to be the best trainer in the world to teach people how to do what I do. That was the exact moment I choose horses as a vocation. It was 1980.

Q. I have heard you say the horse is God’s favorite animal. Why?

JL – I could give 20 different reasons why I know this is so. The first reason: The horse is the second most mentioned animal in the Bible. Sheep are mentioned 714 times. Horses are second at about 356 times. Cows are 86. Dogs are 41. And cats are mentioned 0 times.

There are less reasons for horses today to be on Earth than ever before and yet, there are more horses than ever. That’s because they are adaptable. They can adapt to styles of training, temperatures or doing things their body isn’t designed to do. Think of all the things horses do for people and the different situations they live in, we have to admit they are very adaptable.

And the horse forgives people similar to the way God forgives us. His forgiveness is based on the fact that we can admit we’re wrong and we can change. Someone can abuse a horse and have him head shy for 20 years and then someone else can come along and do two things to fix his head-shyness. Of course, this depends on two things: that human stops hitting him in the head and convinces the horse that we won’t do it again. Since the horse’s memory is so long, it’s not that he just forgot about the 20 years of abuse. The horse is now looking at us and sees that we have changed. He doesn’t hold the past against us for the rest of his life.

Q. Do you think the horse industry is fading or changing in any way?

JL – Yes. Change is inevitable. We will go in cycles with everything we do (kind of like the cattle market goes in a seven-year cycle.) The horse industry will continually evolve and change. I think the educational revolution that’s happened since the mid 90s is high! In 1988 I made my first VHS training tape. There were maybe three to four of them on the market at that time. Now there’s probably 10-15,000 available. The number of expos throughout the world has really exploded.

Q. Tell me about your “Dream Ranch” in Colorado?

JL – I live there with my dream wife, Jody. She is perfect in lots of different ways. The ranch isn’t a typical ranch, we don’t have thousands of acres with a lot of cattle. Instead we have 70 acres and no cattle and just a few horses. It’s a nice place, but I don’t think of it as being extravagant. I love it. I have a good time there.

Q. Is there a horse from history you would like to ride?

JL – If I was given a chance, one more time it would be “Dream.” He was a Quarter Horse stud I had. I would like the opportunity to have ridden him just once more and I would have changed how I rode him. The last ride we took together was up in the mountains and I was getting ready to go to a show. It was a gorgeous place, but I missed the whole ride because I was focused on lead changes and whatever else. I ended up losing Dream a few days later in a trailer accident. If I could have that ride back with him, I would just ride through the mountains and let us both enjoy it.

Q. What CD is in your stereo right now?

JL – I have no idea. I like western music. George Strait is my all-time favorite singer. I really like that song, “I Just Want to Dance With You.” It’s a perfect song to ride to. The song is about asking a girl to dance, then twirling her around on the floor and moving gracefully. It has a really nice rhythm to it, and beat. And a nice message. It makes you want to lope and turn and do nice pretty maneuvers.

Q. If you could sip coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

JL – Jesus Christ. I would love to sit around the camp fire and talk to him.

– Interview by Jenn Webster, March 2008, Western Horse Review

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