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Trainers Challenge Begins at The Mane Event

Red Deer, AB -- Three top trainers and three unbroke three-year-old horses were the center of attention Friday in the round pen at the Mane Event Trainers Challenge. It was the first session of what has become the signature event at The Mane Event, which has come to Red Deer for the first time this year. The trainers vying for the championship are Raye Lochert from California, Steve Rother from Oregon and Jay O’Jay from British Columbia.

Day One of the Challenge began with a draw for one of the three-year-old unbroke horses they will work with over four one-hour round pen sessions. The two mares and one gelding, registered Quarter Horses sired by Josappy, were supplied by Lukacs Farms.

First in the round pen was Raye Lochert with Tina, who he immediately noted was a very nice horse to work with. During the session he introduced he worked on a number of elements, saddled her and put his foot in the stirrup. Next up was Steve Rother with Josie, who he saddled, and then mounted bareback. Jay O’Jay drew the gelding Jiggs, which he observed has a lot of trust and fear issues. His mission, he said, was to make him a brave horse by the end of the Challenge Sunday.

The proceedings in the round pen are being watched and judged by three experienced Alberta horsemen, none of whom have experienced a trainers challenge before. Mel Hyland of Longview, an icon of Canadian rodeo cowboys who made it to the National Finals Rodeo on numerous occasions, now runs a successful horse training business. He described the first training session as “awesome”. “These guys are pouring out their hearts on what they believe. That is really special, and I’m really excited about being here,” he said.

Ron Hoffman of Vermilion is an instructor in the Ranch and Stock Horse Rider program at Lakeland College, and continues to train horses, which he has done for the past 30 years. He noted that although the two mares were more similar than O’Jay’s gelding, it was because he is just a different style of horse “I see very little difference between mares and geldings. Disposition to me is the biggest factor,” he said.

John Scott of Longview has spent most of his life in the motion picture business as a stuntman and a wrangler working with horses. He has worked with several movies filmed in Alberta including Legends of the Fall and Lord of the Rings. He said he is finding the Challenge a great education. “I think for the public it’s the most educational thing I’ve seen about a horse. The fact that these guys come and share their knowledge with what they do and what they know makes life better for the horse.”

Sunday afternoon the trainers and their horses will move to the large arena to demonstrate what they have been able to accomplish together at the Trainers Challenge Finals. A champion will be declared after the scores are compiled from all of the training sessions.

PHOTOGRAPH Caption: “Raye Lochert and Tina get to know each other on Day One of the Mane Event Trainers Challenge.”

Photo Credit: Jan Mansfield


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