When evaluating a horse, Hawaiian horseman Lester Buckley focuses on its eyes and expression. By accurately reading a horse’s disposition through its eyes, riders can select the type of horse best suited for them.
Barrel horse trainer Dena Kirkpatrick says staying as centered as possible on a horse, whether loping circles or running a pattern, helps that horse perform to its optimum level.
Barrel horse trainer Dena Kirkpatrick grew up on a dairy farm in New Mexico, where her grandfather raised racehorses and her father roped. She was exposed early in her life to Thoroughbreds and racing Quarter Horses, and got her first experience with stock horses when she married Cliff Kirkpatrick 30 years ago and moved to his family’s ranch in Post, Texas.
Chris Littlefield trains roping, cutting and reined cow horses out of his Henrietta, Texas facility, where he has been based since 2008. Prior to that, he worked on several outfits, including the Pitchfork, Moorhouse and Stuart ranches.
Russell Dilday was raised in the San Joaquin Valley and worked on ranches throughout Arizona, California, Nevada and Australia. Before transitioning to training full time, he cowboyed and trained colts under Greg Ward. The Wynnewood, Oklahoma, trainer was named World’s Greatest Horseman in 2008, 2009 and 2011, making him the only trainer to have earned the title three times. Carrying him to the titles was Topsails Rien Maker, the first cow horse to become a Breyer horse model. Dilday also won the 2008 National Reined Cow Horse Association Bridle Spectacular, in addition to being a finalist at many other major NRCHA events.
Tom Neel trains performance horses at his facility in Millsap, Texas. He has earned more than $244,000 in reined cow horse, reining and cutting competition. He has earned world and reserve world championships in the American Quarter Horse Association and National Reined Cow Horse Association. He was the AQHA reserve world champion in junior working cow horse in 2011 with Zackly Right Time. In 2009, he rode Zezes Pepto Cat to the open hackamore title at the NRCHA World Championship Show. Zezes Pepto Cat also has American Paint Horse Association world titles in junior and senior working cow horse. Neel also is a judge for the National Cutting Horse Association and NRCHA.