In 2017, Vicki Wilson was the first New Zealander to win the coveted World Championship colt starting competition at the Road to the Horse in the USA. Vicki named her horse Kentucky and brought him home. Their journey is an inspiring story of a friendship and guaranteed her RTTH 2018 invitation. Vicki went on to win the Road to the Horse 2018, making her the back-to-back World Champion of Colt Starting.
The Road to the Horse show in Kentucky was founded in 2003 by Steven and Tootie Bland. Both highly accomplished horse trainers, rodeo and stunt riders, they had a message they wanted to share with the world: build trust with your horse and be amazed how much more both of you will accomplish.
Road to the Horse is an annual three-day extravaganza of entertainment, education and high energy. Four elite equine trainers compete over one weekend to train an untouched 3-year old American quarter horse to the saddle and become the World Champion of colt starting.
Another important aspect of Road to the Horse are the clinics. Each trainer spends part of his or her time working with horses who have specific problems and attempts to resolve them in front of the arena audience.
Spectators watch horse and trainer relationships develop during the colt starting rounds, following their triumphs and setbacks until one person is judged the winner. With the title comes a cash prize (US$100,00 in 2017), a gold and silver belt buckle and an artisan saddle.
Road to the Horse 2017 celebrated the cowgirl. Four professional horsewomen competed and the competition scoring was the closest yet in the history of the event. Vicki gathered a big fan base when she named her horse Kentucky, and her crowd favourite status was cemented when she continued on to win after dislocating her shoulder in Round 1. “This cowgirl may have had a broken wing, but she certainly showed Kentucky how to fly,” said the press.
The pair formed such a close bond that Vicki bought Kentucky and brought him home to New Zealand to be her chief demonstration and clinic pony.
“In starting a young horse we are creating a platform to educate them for the rest of their lives and we want to set them up for success right from day one. We try to understand how each horse functions on an individual basis. We believe every horse has a different way of learning, and it’s about assessing that horse, seeing how much pressure they can cope with and setting a program that will set them up to win.”
Vicki didn’t just wow the crowds for the way she started her colt – her clinics also brought acclaim. She managed to fix several sore horses with her unique hands-on equine therapy methodology. She left them them feeling happier and working well again.
Following her success at the 2017 Road to the Horse competition, Vicki Wilson was invited back to Alltech Arena, this time to compete against two world-class horsemen and Road to the Horse champions, Dan James and Nick Dowers.
Each rider was required to pick two colts instead of one. Vicki’s picks included a Bay Roan named Kiwi, and a Chestnut named NZ (pronounced ‘Enzee’). Over the course of the weekend, Vicki worked simultaneously with both horses, allowing them to grow in confidence and enhance each other’s qualities.
Vicki’s techniques and innate skills saw her finish the competition in spectacular form, taking out the title of World Champion of Colt Starting for the second year in a row.
Vicki’s win in 2017 was historic for many reasons and 2018 was no different, adding to an already growing list of firsts for the coveted event:
- First rider from the English discipline to win Road to the Horse.
- First rider from the English discipline to compete in Road to the Horse.
- First New Zealander to compete in Road to the Horse and first New Zealander to win.
- First rider to jump bareback in the Freestyle.
- First rider to wear a helmet.
- First rider to use an English saddle.
- First rider to do body work on their colt.
2018 got off to a whirlwind start as I found myself once again at the AllTech Arena to defend my World Championship of Colt Starting title at the Road to the Horse 2018. Three challenging rounds, one obstacle course and plenty of patience later, I took out the World Championship title once again.
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