The Rocky Mountain Expo Colt Starting Challenge will have 8 Contestants who will start, gentle and ride 8 unbroke horses in just a few hours. These horses have never been saddled, bridled, nor ridden, however they are halter broke.
On Friday, come and watch all 8 Natural Horsemanship Trainers work their horses at the same time. They will have 2 hours to work with their horse in their round pen, with a 10 minute break in between. The trainers will explain to the audience, one at a time, what they are doing and why as they work with their horse.
On Saturday, all 8 Trainers continue their work with their horses in the round pens. Some will choose to leave the round pens and ride their horse in the arena as they prepare their horses for the obstacle course. They will all have two 45 minute sessions to work with their horse, with a 10 minute break in between.
Then the third day, on Sunday, all 8 Trainers will each have 12 minutes to ride their horse thru the obstacle course, one at a time. The Judges decide the Winner and a Buckle is awarded.
Contestants Entered for
The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo Colt Starting Challenge
1. Ben Cunningham (Colorado)
2. Zen Greenlee (Colorado)
3. Robert Carsel (Iowa)
4. Anthony Edwards (Colorado)
5. Jon Rumsey (Colorado)
6. Darrel Gardner (Texas)
7. Fred Olguin (Colorado)
8. Rhett Fincher (Texas)
Biography and Contact Information of Contestants
for Rocky Mountain Horse Expo
Pay $150 Contestant Entry Fee
for Rocky Mountain Horse Expo
The Winner will be
awarded a Champion Trainer
Darrell Gardner is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana currently residing in Texas. For most of his life he has surrounded himself with horses, which began 15 years ago. His method of training includes a combination of principles and knowledge to achieve the best outcome not only for himself as a trainer but his clients.
His methods are based around the principles of love, respect, obedience, and loyalty and emphasizing patience, communication and trust. He has become experienced and proficient in a variety of disciplines to include colt starting, problem solving, and trail horses. The horses he has provided training to for individual clients have been to correct problems such as bucking, rearing, trailer loading, and correction of learned behavior.
His drive to continually educate and better himself through his training has led him to a great number of events and horse shows. He has competed 3 years in Extreme Mustang Makeover, finishing as a Top 10 finalist and is scheduled to compete in multiple events for the 2018 Colt Starting Challenge, USA. Overall his main goals are to be able to compete and win the Road To The Horse, being among the best of the world in colt starting and being recognized as one of the world’s greatest horse trainers.
Ben Cunningham grew up in family that traveled and moved alot, seeing a lot of the US and Canada. His Dad, however, made sure they always had a little land. Ben recognized early on that livestock was something that he wanted to base his work around and the Western United States was where he wanted to live.
When Ben was about 16 his folks moved the family to Virginia and as soon as he turned 18 he headed of for Montana and got a job with one of the premiere cattle ranches of the state. Ben had been riding horses since he was knee-high but it was here, working cattle that he realized the importance of good Horsemanship. He began learning about Ray Hunt and the Dorrance brothers and got hooked on the traditional vaquero way of natural horsemanship, thus he embarked on his quest of becoming a horseman.
Ben has since worked elsewhere and has been starting colts, working with a wide variety of troubled horses and helping individuals to attain to better Horsemanship. At age 21, he is currently located in Lake George, CO.
Robert Carsel is currently located in Central Iowa and will soon be relocating back home to Southern Missouri.
I have been working with horses my whole life and starting colts since I was 13, I’m a farrier full time and now ride colts part time. I concentrate on a very solid foundation from groundwork through all stages of training to accomplish a soft, responsive, and willing horse that can go any direction or discipline.
If you would like to see some of my work or horses I’ve trained please go visit Robert Carsel Colt Starting on Facebook. Give me a call anytime.
Jon Rumsey is the owner and operator of Equine Transformations in Ft. Garland, Colorado. He is a 33 year old trainer and farrier who was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Jon joined the U.S. Army in January of 2009 where he gained more skills by riding in the Ft. Carson Mounted Color Guard which helped him develop and shape the thought processes and tactics that he uses with the horses he trains today.
Today, Jon trains and shoes horses for the public across the majority of Southern Colorado. Over the last few years, Jon has started roughly 60 horses with a variety of issues and developed them into strong, dependable, loyal equines for their owners to enjoy. His style of training reflects a mutual respect between the horse and the trainer. Jon also holds regular horsemanship and cattle working clinics around Southern Colorado for the public to attend with their horses.
Jon has competed in the National Cavalry Competition each year since 2010. He had the opportunity to ride in the reenactment of Little Bighorn in 2017 and will again in 2018. Jon entered the Colt Starting Challenge for the first time in 2017. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his children and horseback riding through the mountains of Colorado.
I am 55 years old now, and have found that the Natural Horsemanship way is the only way to start a young horse. I do almost all of colt starting alone, so the old ways of snubbing off to a seasoned horse is kind of out of the picture for me. Like Dad used to do.
For the last 30 years or so I have started young horses or worked out “kinks” on some troubled mounts. Most of my work has been for myself or friends. I’ve taken ideas from the likes of Chris Cox , Monty Roberts, Pat Parelli and anyone else that has some touch with horses including my Dad. He was a ranch hand on a spread in Southwest Colorado, and had some fine horses. He started them a little differently, but was a believer that lots of work and no abuse to the animal was how you achieved the goal of trust and reliability on your horse.
I use a bosal on most of the young ones, only in the last ten years or so have I used a snaffle bit, “O” ring style. I have had a couple pretty good ones come out of that method also. This will be my first time in this environment, I am looking forward to the challenge. And hope I end up with a nice horse for someone.
I'm a Oklahoma cowboy who resides in Peyton Colorado. I ride horses out of the Prairie Wind Ranch. I've been riding for over 30 years and training for half that. I love that the relationship with the horse is built on trust and respect. Which sounds strict, however allows to have fun , and accomplish goals.
I have adopted the philosophy of riding your horse not for what he can do for you, but what you can do for him. The more I learn about horses and people, the more I learn there's so much to learn.
God bless y'all I'm Tony Edwards, look forward to seeing y'all horseback somewhere soon.
Rhett Michael Fincher is a 3* Licensed Parelli Professional and a Senior Horse Development Specialist. He currently resides in Cresson, Texas with his wife, Theresa, 3 horses and 3 dogs. Rhett currently leases a property in Texas with 300 acres, 20 stall barn, and facilities for training.
Rhett has started over one thousand colts, competed in colt start competitions across the country, teaches horsemanship, and helps trainers and owners with challenging horses. He has spent over five years with world-renowned horseman, Pat Parelli and has additionally studied Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance, Buck Brannaman and Monty Roberts so that Rhett could develop a deeper understanding of horse psychology and how to cause the horse to want to follow direction versus brace against it.
Rhett’s mission is to help others obtain the relationship they desire with their horse while keeping their horses dignity in tact.
Zen has been riding and starting colts for quite a bit of his life now. He works horses with the understanding that "...you can't force a horse." He looks for the colt to partner with him and make the choice.
When he was approached and asked about his method, he simply stated "I don't have one. You see, not all horses are the same. I have to do things different with each one. The closest thing I have to a "method" is simply the 3 C's. Calm, confident, and consistent.