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want to stop a problem before it starts.” Mustangs can be particularly tricky. “They were wild once,” and Westcott believes they remember what it felt like to be free. A mustang stallion is about as difficult as it gets. “But I’ll train anything,” he added. Today’s goals were simple, though not necessarily easy, for a horse used to getting his way. The idea was to establish Westcott’s leadership. “Horses are herd animals, and most of them don’t want to be leaders,” he explained. “They don’t trust themselves to be leaders, but they also don’t trust you.” On this spring morning, the stallion was in a round pen. Westcott approached the horse, and attempted to stand by its left side – the side that a rider or a vet might typically first approach the horse from. The stallion began to back away. Westcott next flicked a long stick with a piece of cloth dangling from it at the horse and miraculously, soon had the horse cantering around the pen. After a few turns, Westcott would lower the stick, the horse would stop, and equine and human would approach each other again. It went on like this, a dance between man and animal, the two locked in a sort of communication only they seemed to understand. Over the next forty minutes or so, the stallion allowed Westcott to a) put on a halter and b) rope it around his neck, c) and then rope its rear leg, all displays of trust that never seemed forced or coerced. “My first goal was to get the horse to allow himself to be touched,” Westcott explained later. “The next


adventureGUIDE | SUMMER2013

was to get him to move out when asked, to change directions, and to allow himself to get caught. All this work was to establish a leader.” With that, the session was over. The horse stood quietly, and Westcott scratched its nose. The young stallion, all muscle and tension just half-an-hour earlier, opened his mouth, flashed his teeth – and yawned. Westcott, who made “taming” the stallion look effortless, as if he was bending himself to the horse’s will as much as the other way around, is a practitioner of natural horsemanship, a form of training that emphasizes working in empathic partnership with horses, instead of frightening them with whips, tie-downs or other, harsher sorts of coercion, in order to “break” them. The term “horse breaker” was originally applied to the men who “broke” horses for cattle barons, Westcott explained. The cattle barons were in a hurry, and wanted new horses to be put to work right away. “A horse breaker would rope a wild horse and toss a saddle on him. Buck and go – those guys were tough! The breaker kept the horses for 10 days, and then turned them over to a cowboy to ride.” Natural horsemanship takes the opposite approach, using the same cues horses use amongst themselves – how they assert dominance over one another, for example, or behave submissively – and then mimicking that natural body language in the training ring. “I think natural horsemanship has been around for hundreds of years,” Westcott said. “The best trainers always used what they learned from watching horses in the wild. Then Hollywood came along and romanticized it.”

‘The Horse Whisperer’ He was referring to the movie The Horse Whisperer, and before that, Nicholas Evans’ bestseller of the same name, which came out – as did trainer Monte Roberts’ popular (and controversial) autobiography The Man Who Talks to Horses – a couple of decades ago. Since then, there’s been an explosion of books on “natural” training, programs on RFD-TV, horse fairs and weekend training clinics around the country. In the process, many trainers became celebrities. Clinicians at the top of the heap “attract fans the way rock stars do,” notes Richard A. Lamb in The Revolution in Horsemanship. “Hands rough and calloused from years of handling ropes and reins now cramp from signing autographs. A few years ago, some of these very people were working cowboys, one of the lowest-paying professions in America. Now they have entourages.” But while the term natural horseman may be in vogue, “few know how to do it,” Westcott said. “I’ve tried looking for people to assist me. I haven’t found anyone who can.” Westcott found his own way to natural horsemanship when Craig Cameron (who now has a show on RFD TV) roared up on a black-and-white gelding one day a couple of decades ago at Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch above Ridgway, where Cameron and Westcott were working. Cameron’s mount was notorious for running away with people. “It’ll take you 40 yards to stop him!” Westcott exclaimed as Cameron pulled up. “Not if you set >>>

11-14 Telluride Yoga Festival –

20-26 Telluride Compassion Festival;

11-August 29 Sunset Concert Series – Wednesday evenings in Mountain Village; 12-13 Caddis Cup Fly Fishing Tournament – Tourney benefits Crested Butte Land Trust;

20-27 Shakespeare in the Park – Now in its 22nd year on Telluride’s Town Park stage; 109 West Bike Tour – Grand Junction to Gateway, via Cedaredge, Ouray, Durango, Cortez and Telluride;

12-14 Hard Rock 100 Endurance Run – Notorious, grueling race across the San Juans;

20-28 Durango Fiesta Days – The 78th annual event, a celebration of Spanish history;

12-15 Colorado Lavender Festival – Downtown Palisade hosts for the 3rd straight year;

22-25 San Juan 500 – Off-road motorcycling; Silverton,

13 Guided Cemetery Walking Tour – Cedar Hill Cemetery; The Trishas in Concert – Ouray, Wright Opera House;

23 How the Peaks, Valleys, Mesas and Rivers in the San Juans Got Their Names – Evening of History installment;

13-14 The Ride Festival – Mostly rock, sponsored by KOTO Radio;

23-28 Telluride Playwrights Festival – The audience is the judge;

13-15 Little Britches Rodeo – In Cedaredge: the longest-running Little Britches in the world;

25-28 RMAR Rendezvous – In Silverton; rmariders. org.

16 History of the Red Mountain Project – Evening of History talk; 16-20 Mesa County Fair – Mesa County Fairgrounds, Grand Junction; mesacountyfair. com. 18-21 Deltarado Days – In Delta, a Western fiesta dating back to 1936; 19-20 Mountainfilm on Tour –Adventure cinema in Gateway; 17-20 Telluride Americana Music Festival – Singersongwriter showcase; tellurideamericana. com. 18-19 Ah Haa Art Auction – Annual school fundraiser; 19-20 EPIC Rocky Mountain Relay – Canon City to Crested Butte; 19-27 The San Miguel Basin Fair and Rodeo – Norwood; 19-28 Montrose County Fair and Rodeo – 20 Bridge to Bridge Fly Fishing Tournament – Kendall Mountain Run – In Silverton; Silverton Barbershop Music Festival – 82

26-28 Mancos Days Softball Tournament – The 54th annual event; 27 Griffin House in Concert – Ouray, Wright Opera House; Grin & Barrett Black Canyon Buttkicker – Most- challenging, 155-mile route gains 8.000 feet of elevation (plus other, lesschallenging routes); Crested Butte Summit Hike and Half Marathon –Fundraiser to benefit people living with cancer; 27-28 Grand Mesa Ultra-Marathon – A 60K run, 50-mile run, and a 100-mile run; 31 Ridgway and Its Railroads – Evening of History event; 31-Aug. 3 Montezuma County Fair – In Cortez, Montezuma County Fairgrounds;

AUGUST 2-4 Hot Air Balloon Rally – Cortez; Telluride Jazz Festival – The 37th annual event; Mountain Man Softball Tournament – Silverton; 2-5 Archuleta County Fair – In Pagosa Springs; 2-10 53rd Artists’ Alpine Holiday –

3 Olathe Sweet Corn Festival – Norwood Renaissance Faire –Summit and Lincoln Streets; 4-10 Delta County Fair – Delta, coloradoinfo. com. 6 San Juan Mountain Geology Field Trip – Red Mountain Pass, Molas Pass, Coal Bank Hill, more; 7-11 La Plata County Fair – Durango; 8-18 Telluride Chamber Music Festival – 8-11 Dolores County Fair – Dove Creek; 9-10 Dolores Escalante Days – Telluride Academy’s Mudd Butts Theatre Performance – Palm Theatre; 9-11 Hardrockers Holidays – Traditional hard rock mining competition-cum-celebration in Silverton; 10 Jack Ingram in Concert – Ouray, Wright Opera House; Mt. Sneffels Marathon and Half Marathon – Corkscrew Railroad Bed and Turntable Hike – Meet at Ouray County Historical Museum; 10-11 Ridgway Rendezvous Art Festival – In Town Park; 14 Guided Tour of the Ouray County Museum – 15-18 True West Railfest – Durango festival for train buffs, which this year includes the World Fast Draw Association shoot-out and competition; Telluride Mushroom Festival –a All things mycological; Palisade Peach Festival – The 45th annual event; Ouray Canyon Festival – Ouraycolorado. com. 16-18 Telluride Festival of the Arts – Regional and national visual artists from across the U.S.; Great Western Rocky Mountain Brass Band Festival – Silverton; 17 Peach Fest Run – Five-mile sprint, three mile run/walk; River Run for Orphans – Cortez; cortez.

17-18 Leadville 100 – The legendary run, at elevations ranging from 9.200 to 12,600 feet; 18 Peach Fest Pedal-Paddle-Pedal – Mountain biking, flat-water paddling and road riding; 20-September 28 Annual Quilt Show – 22-25 Dinner With Dionysus – Original ensemble work from Telluride Theatre; telluridetheatre. org. 22-27 San Juan Chamber MusicFest – The 11th season; 23-24 KOTO Doo-Dah Concert – Fundraiser for community radio station KOTO; Mesa Verde Country Food, Wine & Art Festival – Rock Jam – Grand Junction;


Mountain Chile Cha Cha – Pagosa Springs trail race and green chile cook-off; Silverton Alpine Marathon & 50K – Grillin’ & Chillin’ Brew & Music Festival – Ouray’s Fellin Park; 24-25 Ouray Heritage Weekend – Ouraycolorado. com. Twenty-Four Hours in the Sage Bike Race – 25 Tour of the Valley – Grand Junction; 26-30 Western Colorado Senior Games – Grand Junction; 27 Silverton 1000 Multi-Day Run – 29-Sept. 2 Telluride Film Festival – The Festival celebrates its 40th year and adds an extra day of programming; Four Corners Motorcycle Rally – Sugar Pine Ranch Rally – Mancos,

29-Sept. 3

Ouray County 4-H Fair & Rodeo Events – 30 Silverton 72 Hour Run – 30-Sept. 1 Pagosa Four Corners Folk Festival – Now in its 18th year; Off Road Endurance Mountain Bike Race – Grand Junction and surroundings;

Adventure Summer 2013  

An outdoor adventure guide to the Western San Juans.

Adventure Summer 2013  

An outdoor adventure guide to the Western San Juans.