Photo By: Marilyn Merrick
Stories From Craig Cameron
Perseverance - Riding the Tough Ones
People are curious and often ask, "What's the toughest horse you've ever worked?" "Has there ever been a horse you couldn't tame?" Traveling around the country as a horse trainer who'll work with any horse is much like a prizefighter willing to take on all comers.
I was a professional bull rider for many years and competed at the country's biggest rodeos. My challenge was to ride the rankest bulls the stock contractor could provide. In rodeo, it's the cowboy versus the contractor. The cowboy says, "I
can ride anything you've got, and the contractor says, "I can put you on the ground."
When I began putting on public colt starting demonstrations, I never meant them to be a challenge; however, my audience had other ideas. Instead of bringing horses for a learning demonstration, people brought them as a contest. "Craig Cameron is coming to town? Yeah, have we got one for him." After 20 years of proving myself and the method of working through understanding with horses, regrettably this contesting still goes on.
I think it's a lot like auto racing or rodeo. Some folks come hoping to see a wreck.
Tough horses-I can name you a few. Las Cruces, N.M., 1992, a bad mare flipped completely over on me. Oklahoma City, a rank and spoiled stallion ran me over, and I still carry that scar on my shoulder today. At the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering in Forth worth, I was kicked to the ground. Amarillo Ranch Rodeo, I was kicked by an outlaw and
had to be helped on the horse to finish before going to the hospital to drain the fluid off my knee. I was bucked off three times by the same mare in Ardmore, Okla., before finally "getting through" on that horse. As James Gholson, wagon boss of the Pitchfork Ranch, or the crowd that attended the Sweetwater, Texas Ranch Rodeo about the black stallion that kicked me down, pawed me and bucked me off twice before I "conquered" that bronc. The list goes on and on.
Obviously, there've been many tough horses, but one in particular comes to mind when I think of truly tough. My good friend, and one of the finest horsemen I know; Mark Chestnut of Whitesboro, Texas, had three long yearlings for sale, two fillies and a stallion. They were well-bred and the price was right. We sealed the deal, and my wife, Dalene, and I headed to Whitesboro. Not being halter-broke, the youngsters were wild but looked great. We crowded them into my stock trailer and were homeward bound with our new horses in tow.
Two fillies broke out soft and melted down into a smooth training routine. The little stallion that I eventually had gelded, however; was a horse of a different color. There was something contrary about him. He had a standoffish air. Just catching him in a stall was a task, even though he wore a halter and lead rope. He received many hours of leading, brushing, tying, and good ground work, but still the trust wasn't there.
My first trip to the round pen with this guy was memorable. The setting was an indoor arena with a 45-foot portable round pen set close to the barn window. I simply walked into the training corral. I hadn't moved or even started to work the young prospect when, without warning, he unhesitatingly and very athletically jumped completely out of that barn window and was gone. I think I laughed and cussed at the same time. I knew right then that then that this horse was a bit of a rattlesnake and was wild as sage. We started calling him Sage...
To Be Continued
Excerpt from: RIDE SMART by Craig Cameron with Kathy Swan. Page 156 & 157. Published by Western Horseman.