EQUINE EXCELLENCE – TJ Clibborn and Kateri Cowley

American rider takes home win at Mane Event Trainer’s Challenge

An American rider out of Pennsylvania took home the win from the annual Trainer’s Challenge at the Mane Event Equine Exposition and Trade Fair over the weekend held at Westerner Park.

Patrick King was announced the winner of the Trainer’s Challenge following his three days of work with the unbroken Aliso. The Challenge is an opportunity to watch as trainers tango to break horses in only three days.

The hundreds of viewers at this year’s show bore witness to a variety of methods used to train horses and is meant to educate the attendees on the many different ways to start a colt or to break a horse.

Although it was King’s first appearance on Canadian soil, he will surely remember his first trip as he has a memorable experience to bring home with him.

Going into the challenge King was third draw in horse selection, leaving him with the young female, Aliso.

“She was an absolute beauty – I fell in love with her about two seconds into the operation,” said King in an interview Sunday evening following the announcement of his win. “I really lucked out with getting her, she was really sensitive but sensible at the same time.

“I could tell she wanted to be okay and that she really wanted to be with me.”

With judging based 10% on the horse, 60% on the trainer’s ability to train the horse, and 30% on the trainer’s ability to educate the attendees, King opted to use the Garrocha pole technique to train his selected horse.

“That’s something I like to do with a lot of horses when they are ready for it,” explained King on the technique, which utilizes a large pole to steer and maneuver the horse. “She was ready for it pretty soon, and in that round corral it’s easy for a horse to get bored but working with something like a Garrocha pole really helps the horse to feel like there is a reason behind what we were doing.

“You can only ride with one hand because your right hand is controlling that wooden dowel, so she had to work with me and learn to focus better on my seat and my legs.”

Hailing from the U.S., the winner of this past weekend’s event is no strange to training challenges, stating he has visited a number of American challenges as both a participant and as a spectator. He added the biggest difference he noticed between his first Canadian challenge and the many American challenges was the camaraderie between the three participants.

“It’s been an absolute honour – going into this and over the last three days we all just did our best,” explained King. “I’ve said I wouldn’t of minded coming in second or third place next to these two folks.

“I’ve seen it at other shows, but not like at this one – the crowd was into it and we had a blast.”

King was up against two other trainers in the Mane Event corral over the three-day challenge including TJ Clibborn, an Australian-born trainer now hailing out of Wisconsin and Alberta’s own former Calgary Stampede Princess and champion of the Stampede’s ‘Cowboy Up’ challenge, Kateri Cowley.

The three agreed it was a great weekend and look forward to seeing one another in the corral again one day.


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