by Katie Frank

Tom CurtinPhoto by Ross Hecox

It’s the beginning of a New Year, and if you’re like me, then you may be struggling to maintain your resolutions. I have a handful of goals I’d like to keep this year, including ride more, call my friends (on the phone—no texting!), and most importantly, stay positive.

The last resolution came after meeting horseman and clinician Tom Curtin. The Florida trainer was giving a clinic in Marietta, Oklahoma, and I took a quick road trip to observe it. Though he had a lesson plan in mind for clinic attendees, Curtin welcomed improvisation. One horse was acting a little spooky around a speaker set in a corner, and Curtin didn’t miss a beat. He took it as an opportunity to teach another lesson about the horse, and talked the rider through step-by-step.

Curtin’s upbeat, calm demeanor amazed me, and continued the next day during our interview. Clearly his horses have absorbed his disposition. When I asked who inspired him, Curtin replied some of his greatest mentors growing up were Buster Welch and Ray Hunt.

“Both of those guys had one thing in common,” he says. “I’ve run into this in other successful people. And it’s to be 100-percent positive. It plays over into these animals, and it plays into these horses. It plays over into how you live your life. It’s a way of life. It’s more of a Zen-type philosophy, for me. Both [Buster and Ray], they may have been a little different in how they presented stuff, but one thing they had in common was that they were 100-percent positive.”

He recalled seeing Buster after he had open-heart surgery. Even after an invasive procedure, Buster said he felt “excellent,” and continued to set an example for Curtin to follow.

Now Curtin needs the positive attitude and support of others more than ever. Curtin has been diagnosed with throat cancer, and a benefit is being held to raise money.

On February 7, the Tom Curtin Medical Benefit Roping will be held in Sheridan, Wyoming, at the Brannaman Arena. Starting at 9:30 a.m., drawn teams will compete in a three-man cow doctoring. The entry fee is $50, and all money will go toward Curtin’s medical needs. There will also be a silent auction, with gifts including Todd Hansen silver, two Mattes Western pads, several Western Horseman books, and breedings to Sophisticated Catt and Palo Duro Cat.

Curtin and his wife, Trina, were all smiles that day in Oklahoma. He was patient and kind as he answered my questions and posed for countless photos. To him, the animal’s needs come first, and his second. It’s an attitude we all need to embrace for the upcoming year.

For more information, visit the event’s page at

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