Jim Anderson of Strathmore, Alberta, is a renowned trainer, best known for his credentials in the reining arena. However lately, Anderson has taken a shine to Cowboy Challenges – and the unique transition has proven to be an exciting fit for the professional trainer. \”Jimmy\” will, of course, continue to train reining horses but this weekend he will contend in the Calgary Stampede 2012 Cowboy Challenge. While enroute to the grounds to get his horse settled, I was able to catch a quick interview with him. Here\’s what he had to say about \”Patch,\” (the horse he will contend with), and the discipline of cowboy challenges:
Q. Please tell me about \”Patch\”.
A. Patch is a 7-year-old sorrel mare sired by Brassy Merit and out of a daughter of Smokin 45. She was named Patch because she has one patch of white hair on her belly. My wife Andrea and I originally owned her by she is now owned by Rob & Marion Wedel of Taber, AB.
She\’s a really kind and good-minded mare. She was a nice reiner but she\’s just really confident in everything, so she fit perfect in this direction.
Q. Why did you decide to pursue Cowboy Challenges, when you already have a successful reining operation?
A. Some good friends of ours, (the Fenners) got me into it. And once I started, I really liked it.
Q. What do you like about it?
A. Cowboy Challenges require good horsemanship. It involves a little reining and some obstacles, and it has a liberty dimension. It\’s true horsemanship because it tests the horse and rider in all aspects of riding and ground work.
Q. How do you train a horse for Cowboy Challenge?
A. Basically what it comes down to is, I train the horse so I can have a lot of confidence in my horse and so she’ll take my guidance and trust me through the stuff.
Q. Does that mean you have a little chuckwagon and various obstacles at home?
A. I have some obstacles that we go over and go through at home. They help build Patch up for more stuff.
What I am training for is just to be able to control her legs. If I\’m faced with a tub of water, I want to be able to set one foot in that water so I have guidance and trust enough in horse to set all her feet in the water. If I can get one foot in the water bucket, then I can guide her through whatever comes at us.
Q. How long does it take to train a horse for Cowboy Challenge?
A. It\’s like any horse, it takes about 24 months to have a finished one. The training takes a lot of time: 5 days a week, whether it\’s a reiner or a cowboy challenge mount. A broke horse takes a lot of time.
Q. I understand you took Patch out for a trial run recently, just prior to Stampede?
Yes, we were in Medicine Hat, AB, recently at Silcher\’s place. They had a really nice course set up and it was a really fun evening. It was a tough course! Tough because it took a lot of trust in my horse to go through it. They had a dark tunnel with pool noodles sticking straight out on each side of it – the horse had to push through the tunnel to get through, and to make things even more difficult, the wind was blowing the noodles.
But they were fun obstacles and it really put your horse to the test!
Jimmy will compete at the Stampede this weekend – Today he has the opportunity to ride in the competition arena with no obstacles. Then on Saturday, he and Patch will go into the competition cold turkey! They will never have seen the course of this year, or any of its obstacles before. Saturday is the first go-round, Sunday features the 2nd go-round and Monday will see the finals. Stay tuned for results!
And if you like, here\’s a video from last year\’s challenge. Enjoy!