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Trainers Challenge at the Mane Event- Day 2

Red Deer, AB -- The Trainers Challenge at the Mane Event continued Saturday with the trainers each having two round pen sessions with their horses. The crowd eagerly followed their progress and were the beneficiaries of the knowledge of the three very experienced horsemen, Raye Lochert from California, Steve Rother from Oregon and Jay O’Jay from British Columbia.

Rother was clearly in his element as he interacted with the crowd, showing off his athleticism and his horse Josie’s good nature as he mounted his horse, stood on her back, and practiced the elements that will be included in the Finals. “ We got the confidence, we got the trust, and we got respect,” he told the audience. “You have to get the horse to truly believe in what you are doing.”

Later, Rother said he wasn’t planning to do a lot with Josie in the final round pen session Sunday morning, because she is ready to do everything in the Finals. “That’s why I set the ground rules at first, so I don’t have to rush now,” he said. “She’s trying as hard as I could want her to. Win or lose, I just want her to go smooth and confident and end on a good note with it.”

Lochert found his horse, Tina, was a lot jumpier in the round pen than the previous day. He realized that she was reacting to the safety vest and helmet that he always wears when preparing to ride a young horse. But he reaffirmed that he made a promise long ago that he would protect himself for his family’s sake. “I will not ride her without my vest and helmet. I have a wife, daughter and son. I will not risk their safety and security in this world because I want to win a trophy.”

Lochert noted that his horse also has issues with her nose and head. “But regardless of what may have caused it, it’s a training issue and I’ve got to fix it.” He said he would continue to work with the horse in Sunday morning’s round pen session, but didn’t know if he would be able to ride her.

O’Jay, training the only gelding in the Challenge, was battling an illness as well as dealing with what appeared to be a challenging young horse. But at the end of the day he was very pleased with what he had been able to accomplish with Jiggs. “I really made a big impression on that colt in session two,” he said. “The patience I had with the horse is paying off. I was able to show a lot of people that if you stay focused and you stay patient and work through it, you will come out on the other side.”

He said during Sunday’s round pen session he planned to introduce the horse to some of the obstacles that would be used in the finals to see how he would handle it. “But if his willfulness comes through again and I have to work on it, it could be a problem,” he said. But the most important thing to him, he said, is the future of that horse.

The Trainers Challenge is being monitored throughout by Hugh McLennan, a cattle rancher and horse trainer who is the well known voice of the weekly radio program “Spirit of the West”. His insightful and often entertaining comments throughout the sessions has helped make the Trainers Challenge an audience favorite at the Mane Event. He remarked Saturday on the capacity crowd that has been coming to the round pen sessions. “The size of the crowd and their enthusiasm is an indication of how huge the horse industry has become in western Canada”, he said.

Sunday afternoon the trainers and their horses will move to the large arena for the Finals to demonstrate the results of their work over the past three days. A champion will be declared after the scores are compiled from all of the training sessions.

PHOTOGRAPH Caption: “Jay O’Jay works with Jiggs on Day Two of the Trainers Challenge at the Mane Event.”

Photo Credit: Jan Mansfield


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