Trying Horses with Tyler McKnight

Sticking with a game plan when trying a horse.

In the past, I’ve tried horses and talked myself into liking them. In the end, they were the wrong horse for me even though they were right for a lot of other people. Now, I really try to stick to a game plan when I’m trying a horse.

Something to go on

If you have had a great horse before, or one that really fit you, figure out what about that horse—what specific traits—you liked. The best thing that ever happened to me was buying my old horse, Skeeter, because he showed me what I needed in a heel horse. I won my first ProRodeo buckle ever on the first two steers I ran on him in competition, and he was the one right off the bat.

Realistic practice

Bringing the kind of header you’re planning to heel behind (or vice versa) is critical when you’re horse shopping. You need a header that will give you the same looks you plan to see in competition. I just tried a bay horse at Dustin Bird’s house, and Bird spun me five steers on him. I bought him right then, because he worked outstanding in the kind of run I like to make.

First take

When I go to try horses, if I don’t love him from the first three steers—if I have to go home and think about it—then I don’t need him. I really can talk myself into liking one if I allow myself to do that. But because I go into a situation knowing exactly what I liked about Skeeter, if the horse doesn’t fit those metrics right off the bat, then I thank the owner and walk away. If you’re trying to win on one, you can’t make the horse fit you.