Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The "Little Guy" vs. The BNT

Day after day, year after year, I constantly hear the same thing. "You are showing without the name of a BNT to back you up, get you noticed, and get you placed. You are never going to make it big." And day after day, year after year; I have to think of new and colorful ways to tell the "non-believers" to kindly pull their heads from their asses.

Call me naive and say what you want; but in my experience, you don't need a BNT backing you in order to go win a big show, the World Show, or even an open show. What you do need is a properly turned out horse, plenty of preparation, and dedication to master your chosen discipline(s). Do you have to have a high priced horse? Hell no. Does your horse have to have "perfect" conformation to be successful? Nope. Do you have to have a BNT in the saddle or at the end of the shank? Once again, no!

Judging from my experience in the APHA industry, you don't have to have any of those things to be successful. What you do need is knowledge of your discipline(s), a horse that is turned out to the best of your ability, a tidy appearance, determination, dedication, and of course; money to go to the shows.

While I have worked along side professionals such as Shawn Flarida, Gary and Linda Gordon, George Williams, and many more... I have yet to hire a BNT to do my work for me. Instead, I have chosen to work for these people in the past to learn everything that I possibly could. I don't follow their programs exactly they way they do it. If I did, I'd end up doing some things that are unsuitable for myself and my horses. What I did do was take bits and pieces of their programs that I liked, and tailored a program for myself that brings me the success that I want. There is no harm in taking a "hands on approach" to different disciplines. Whether you like the discipline or not, there are things to be learned from it. And whether you agree with the methods of the discipline or not, you will walk away a more knowledgeable and well-rounded horse person. I encourage people that have the ability to keep an open mind to go intern with BNT's from a variety of different disciplines. You'll be surprised what you walk away with. No doubt... you'll learn the good with the bad, but you will have the option of either putting the good or the bad to use. If you choose to put the "bad" to use, you need some more training.

For every person that says you can't win big without a BNT, catch ride, or catch lead; I will proudly present a list of accomplishments. For example, I walked away with 1st and 4th in showmanship at the Fort Worth Stock Show this year. No BNT trailing behind me, going over the pattern, helping me prepare my horse, etc. It can be done people. Sometimes you have to forget about what other people will think, suck it up, and walk into the pen and show your horse. Each show is just one (or multiple) judges opinions on a given day. You can't give up, and practice makes perfect. You also have to have the capacity to learn something new every day. If you can't, you are going to be stuck doing it the same way every time. For some that can be a good thing (for the people that win); for others it can be a set up for failure.

So how exactly do you go in and beat the pros? You learn everything you possible can from them, take the "good" portion of what you learned, and apply it to yourself and your horses. You use their routines against them. A good horse is a good horse. You can't always win, but if you use your brain and have some determination you will get noticed.