For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be in the horse business. Horses are far easier to understand than our human friends, and far more honest and loyal. I never once thought about getting rich and famous; the only thought that consumed my mind was getting to ride. I wanted to enjoy the freedom and sense of accomplishment that horses provided. I just wanted to ride the range like the Lone Ranger, and have my pony talk to me like Mr. Ed. Life was simple.
I have been around for awhile and have had the chance to meet many of the past trainers and horsemen that have helped shape the industry as we know it. I have seen champion trainers that have had show ring success in their glory days living in a travel trailer on the back of another trainer friend’s property just trying to survive. I never wanted to become one of those guys. Success is fleeting, and most people will push you along the side of the road to get to the newest flavor of the week, no matter how great of a friend or a client you thought they were. I think it is just human nature to want to be around success and celebrity, but what do I know?
I had a conversation one day with a multiple World Champion trainer and we were discussing the different paths in the horse business and the many roads to the term “successful” in the industry. He pointed out something to me that made me really think about my goals in the horse business, as well as for the rest of my life. He said do you know who won the NRHA Futurity in 1986, or the NCHA Futurity in 1970? I replied, “no,” and he stated that is exactly the point. In the end, no one really cares or remembers, other than a book of records and the few people that were associated with the victory.
Many times we have to push the horses, our families, and our true selves to the side of the road trying to become a World Champion, or what others deem successful. I think that we need to make sure in all of this, the horses get a fair shake at a happy life and we need to remember that not all horses were destined to be super stars; some were made to just be great old trail riding buddies. In terms of what success means to some, we push our horses, our families, and ourselves past the breaking point where no one is happy or enjoying the journey. I think the reason most of us had gotten into horses was to relax and enjoy quality time with our families; and now due to the internet, we try to compare our version of happy and success to someone else’s. Remember, you cannot compare your beginning to someone else’s end and expect to be happy.
I have always tried to stress to all of my clients that the journey is yours, and yours alone. Do what makes you happy and follow your own path. Success can be picking up the correct lead on a canter depart, or having your facility paid off. Either one is a success, it just depends on whose eyes you are looking through.
I have always tried to be a happy person and mind my own business, and to be me. I have always been more than willing to help others achieve their goals and be a friend to the horse by showing them an easier way and teach people that force is never the answer, in training or life. This is why I decided to throw my hat into the clinic arena with my Anti-Gimmick Horsemanship Clinics which is nothing more than how I train and ride on a daily basis. Most gimmicks are just short cuts and most short cuts never work out in the long run. Horses are pretty simple creatures and all we really need to understand to train them is to show them their job, and leave them alone, pretty simple. As humans we feel the need to always think that we need to be doing something in order to be training. A horse cannot give you the wrong answer, you have just asked the question wrong. Horses can feel a fly land on them so why the need for bigger bits or shaper spurs? It takes time to build a quality relationship with your horse through years of training and patience. The blazing fast spin was built by teaching the horse to take one forward crossover step at a time, simple.
After my two boys were boys I really started to learn what the importance of what true success in life was, and that answer my friends is FAMILY. I have given most people a true to life version of my wife, kids and my training business on pretty much a daily basis, with no filter. I practice what I preach, and I am comfortable in the fact that I am not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is truly who I am. I love to celebrate the successes of my wife, boys and clients but no one here has ever been pushed to ride or compete, but rather to just ride because they enjoy it. I by no means expect them to have the same passion and drive as I do about horses, but if they do super-duper. I know my wife and kids love me no matter if I am a world champion, or a back yard pony trainer. My horses respect me because I have shown them the way, and always try to be fair.
I believe the downfall of the horse biz today is that the internet has given people the ability to bully without consequences. Smart phones have given us the ability to video our riding and see what we need to improve and share the moments of success that we are proud of. I have always believed that we should try to educate those who do not know how to do something, which I have with many free clinics, instead of badmouthing their lack of knowledge, why not be encouraging in the fact that they are part of the horse community and spending their money at tack shops and feed stores. We all had to start somewhere and our education has been a journey paid for with money, tears, and doctor bills.
As Always; Ride Hard, Be Safe, and Have Fun - Steve Kutie