Colt Starting Challenge USA

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ROCKY MOUNTAIN HORSE EXPO 2020 National Western Complex Denver, Colorado
Feb , 28, 29 & March 1, 2020     Friday & Saturday 3pm - 5:30pm  
Sunday 12 pm - 2 pm
4655 Humboldt St, Denver   Facility phone # 303-297-1166

- 8 UNBROKE HORSES....
- 8 HORSE TRAINERS......
- 8 ROUND PENS.....
COLT STARTING CHALLENGE USA          

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.  J.R. Lyons (Arkansas)

    2.  Tristen Baroni (Montana)

    3.  Curtis Hungate (Colorado)

    4.  Kolbi Williams (Colorado)

    5.  Benjamin Grogan (Colorado)

    6.  Trevor Mertes (Alberta Canada)

    7.  Koltin Ecoffey (South Dakota)

​    8.  Steve Hicks (Colorado)






Biography and Contact Information of Contestants 
for Rocky Mountain Horse Expo 2020


Pay $150 Contestant Entry Fee 
for Rocky Mountain Horse Expo 
The Winner was TRISTEN BARONI of Helmsville MT!

Tristen was
awarded this Champion Trainer 
Buckle
​OSKALOOSA, KS
785-213-0586
[email protected]

RUDY LARA
Rudy Lara is a horse trainer born and raised in New Mexico. He has been involved with horses his entire life. He started training horses for the public in 2009. In 2010 he obtained 12 endorsements from Dennis Reis making him eligible to become an instructor. He currently lives and trains horses full time in Taos, NM.

Some of Rudy’s recent accomplishments are placing top 3 and earning people’s choice award in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Santa Fe’s Horse Shelter Trainer Challenge. In 2016 Rudy Lara was invited to São Paulo Brazil for the 2016 Global Equus Expo as a guest clinician. Also that year he was a finalist at the annual Buck Brannaman Vaquero Roping Event. The following year in 2017 has was hand picked by Buck Brannaman for the annual Houlihan Colt Starting clinic, hosted at Buck Brannaman’s ranch in Wyoming, two years in a row.

Rudy specializes in colt starting, doma vaquera, ranch roping, and working with problem horses. He strongly believes in natural horsemanship and giving his colts a strong foundation without intimidation. Horses are an important part of Rudy’s life and it’s his mission to help riders and their horses become better partners throughout their Equine journey.
RUDY LARA
575-404-5410
[email protected]

J.R. LYONS 
My name is J.R. Lyons. I own and operate L/B Performance Horses with my younger brother, Spencer, out of Fayetteville, Arkansas. I come from a long line of cowboys and horse trainers. My great grandfather trained race horses in California in the 1940’s and 50’s. My grandfather was part of the crew that built the great Cody, Wyoming Rodeo Arena, the “Rodeo Capital of the World”. 

At 12 years old, with the help of my father, I started my first colt and have been pursuing the craft ever since. The relationship between horse and rider is unique and addicting. I can’t  imagine another way of life.
Your entry fee is non-refundalbe
FAYETTEVILLE, AK
[email protected]
479-313-9992

TRISTEN BARONI
Horses are the best teachers I have found. They have provided me the opportunity and ability to teach others what I have learned from them. My sole goal for this event, is to try and get people thinking about what the horse is thinking, to help others get more done with their horses while doing less physically in a shorter amount of time. I am of the school of thought of MINIMAL necessary force, reason being if you do too much physically, the horse’s ability to retain information will greatly decrease, if not shut down all together.

As for myself, my horse career began starting colts to pack through Yellowstone and the Bob Marshall wilderness, this quickly led me to large cattle ranches and my fascination with horses shined through as my passion. I learned that the best teacher around was right next to me and they weren’t charging anything, in fact they were actually paying my bills. At this point my desire to continue learning from the horse in all disciplines took off like wild fire as I began to pursue understanding and effective communication. Since that day I have been riding upwards of 500 horses a day. I can’t wait to share my love of the horse with you. 

HELMVILLE, MT
[email protected]
406-560-5857
CURTIS HUNGATE
I'm Curtis Hungate. I'm a trainer out of Silt Colorado. I grew up a city boy with Country roots. It was a girlfriend who showed horses that got me involved with horses and back to my roots. I've been working with dogs and horse's since I was nineteen. 

I currently start colts and rehab problem horses. Helping people and animals overcome their problems and fears is what I do. My time working with the wounded warriors project has been the most rewarding part of my time as a trainer. 


SILT, CO
[email protected]
970-456-3921
TREVOR MERTES
Trevor Mertes of Alberta Canada “If you want a calm horse, stay calm. If you want a patient horse, be patient.” This is a quote from one of Trevor’s mentors in which he lives by everyday while working with horses. A good portion of Trevor’s life has been riding range for different ranches across western Canada and the US, living the cowboy way of life. More recently, he’s been competing in Extreme Cowboy Challenges where he consistently places at the top. He’s qualified and competed in the Worlds for the Extreme Cowboy Challenge in Texas the past two years, 2018 & 2019, and is looking to qualify again in 2020.

Originally from British Columbia where his ranching roots started, he now runs his company called “Horses That Work” out of Cochrane, Alberta. He is able to bring his calm, quiet, and down to earth approach to horsemanship in any discipline of riding through a variety of training programs and clinics across Western Canada. His goal is always to do less to get more out of your horse and always keeping in mind that if you can move the feet you can get to the mind of the horse.

ALBERTA, CANADA
[email protected]
403-608-5299
KOLBI WILLIAMS
My name is Kolbi Williams. I was born in Denton, Texas, I have lived in Colorado for five years. I first started working with horses about four years ago.

My passion in the horse world is starting colts. I spent the last 2 years interning for some trainers, which is where I learned my style of training horses. About 1.5 years ago, I got my first horse. I finished training her and showed her in my first horse show at the 2019 Rocky Mountain Horse Expo for the Battle of the Rockies. I placed 5th in the ranch riding overall.

In the 2020 National Western Stock Show, our team placed 1st in the Horsemanship Challenge. I placed 1st in the first part of the 
intermediate Horsemanship Challenge.

PARKER, CO
[email protected]
830-358-2985
KOLTIN ECOFFEY
I'm an Oglala Lakota horseman my name is Koltin Ecoffey. I am a 6th generation horse trainer and breeder dating back to my great great, great, grandfather John Y Nelson who trained horses for his friend William F. Cody in “Buffalo Bills Wild West Show”. His daughter Princess Blue Water “Rose Ecoffey” was a favorite of the Prince of Whales during 1881 Europe tour. 

I’ve been on horses since I was 2yrs old. By the time I was 12 my mother had already taken me to several different week long horsemanship clinics along with Grandfather Frank Ecoffey who trained thoroughbreds, that to this day hold state track records in Nebraska. He would also hire countless horse whisperers of different techniques to come out and teach me. The majority of them being native horsemen & horse woman. My Grandfather also taught me all he had learned, that had passed down to him. I am proud to represent my tribe and family for we are “People of the Horse” 
WOUNDED KNEE, SD
[email protected]
605-867-2554
BEN GROGAN
I grew up in Denver and first got into the horse world in high school through the Westernairres. Shortly after that, I decided to further my education and experience with horses by moving to Texas to apprentice with Chris Cox. 

After 4 years, I moved back to the North West and decided to train rescue and performance horses. I spent a year in Nevada with some great horsemen and learned even more about rein cowhorse and roping. 

I’ve been working at the Denver Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center on and off for 4 years where I met my wife and started our family. We currently live in the Franktown / Elizabeth area and have started our own training facility. We welcome all types of horses and work hard to keep Horsemanship at the forefront of our program. 
FRANKTOWN, CO
[email protected]
940-445-5511
STEVE HICKS 
Born and raised on horses, even riding before I could walk. I'm a third generation cowboy and horse trainer. Riding was not a choice. Dad didn't believe in buying a horse to do what you wanted them to do, if you wanted a horse, you made a horse. I found that horse training and trading is my way of life. H&H Performance Horses is the result and is owned by my son, Kadyn and I

My name is Steve Hicks. From the age of 11 riding broncs in the little britches rodeo, I took to high school rodeo in bronc riding. I starting training horses at the age of 14 for the public. I went on to work for a family friend at the age of 17 and I was fortunate enough to be sent to a Buck Brannaman training clinic. Breaking a horse can be done in many ways, my biggest achievement is to know how to get into the mind of a horse and work with it. At the age of 30, I lost count of how many horses I had trained, it's somewhere in the hundreds I am sure. I attended horse shoeing school in 1990 and spent many years perfecting it. It wasn't unusual for me to shoe 10 head a day.  

My most memorable times are working with several old school cowboys on their ranches and the knowledge we traded.


NUNN, CO
[email protected]
303-594-1229