Winner’s circle familiar to horse trainer

Dale Clearwater’s success at Canadian Western Agribition continued Nov. 15 when Dolly D Day won the Select Ranch Horse competition and then topped the sale.

Clearwater of Hanley, Sask., trained and rode the sorrel mare for consigner Lana Wutzke of Vanscoy, Sask.

The five-year-old mare sold for $10,000 to Bryan Bexson of Sask-atoon after earning 618 points in the competition and winning the $5,000 prize.

The reserve competition winner was Dualin Lil Lena, owned by Dave Fiddler of Admiral, Sask., and trained and ridden by Clint Christianson of Bracken, Sask. The gelding sold for $8,100 to Larry and Darlene McDonald of Vermilion, Alta., and earned $2,500 in the competition.

Third prize of $1,500 went to Pica Chex, consigned by Hayley Lang of Humboldt, Sask., and ridden by Tyler Darroch of Yorkton, Sask. The gelding sold for $7,400 to Rocky Ross of Botha, Alta.

Nine horses sold for a total of $61,800 and an average $6,866.67. Last year, 16 lots averaged $8,400.

Clearwater has a long track record of success at the Agribition event.

This year he also participated in Ride ’em Cowboy, a trainer’s challenge event new to the show.

He and another well-known trainer, Cain Quam from Kendal, Sask., began working with two horses that had never been ridden before. Each spent an hour a day for four days working with their horses before a crowd in the Brandt Centre. On the final day they rode through a pattern and were judged on the performance.

Clearwater said the idea is to show people how horses are trained, although it would generally take a month to accomplish what he and Quam did in four hours.

“We are kind of fast tracking these horses to do a competition,” he said.

“Both Cain and myself know that we’re working with the horse’s mind, and we can only push that as far as (the horse) will allow.”

He said anyone watching at Agribition or other similar events might think the horse is ready to ride, but that’s far from the case.

“They are very well trained after four hours to the untrained eye, but they are still very green and very unpredictable.”

However, the point of the event was to educate the public.

Clearwater said brute force isn’t an option when breaking a horse.

“It’s not like the old days when we were bucking ’em out and tying ’em down and all that kinds of stuff,” he said.

Getting inside a horse’s mind is something he, Quam and other reputable trainers do. The challenge is to know how far to push a horse without pushing too far. Clearwater said the horse tells them what that limit is.

He said the horse far outweighs the average trainer and could easily do what it wants. Working by feel and timing puts the trainer in control.

“Society as a whole is so mechanical and everything has a gas pedal or a steering wheel or a push button, and it’s hard to explain to people that you can connect and get into that horse’s mind and have them working with you rather than for you,” Clearwater said.

He could yank the reins and turn the horse to the right, or he could offer the turn and say, “come to the right, please,” and get better co-operation.

“It’s something for me that’s a God-given gift. I’ve tried to teach so many people, and it’s either there or it’s not.”

Clearwater has been training horses for 20 years.

Quam, who won the competition in the end, has conducted more than 200 horsemanship clinics. At Agribition, he also participated in cowboy mounted shooting.

The two colts the pair used during the trainer’s challenge sold at the ranch horse sale for $2,500 and $2,300.

Eleven prospect horses also sold for an average of $3,545.45. The high seller was Cosmic Smoke, a gelding consigned by Jesse Rempel of Hanley and bought by Scott Watson of Wolseley, Sask., for $5,800.

The prospects are two- and three-year-olds that are eligible to return to the competition and sale after age four.

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