Red Deer County’s Samantha Humphreys is looking to be the best horse trainer in Western Canada.
Humphreys, 24, has been riding since she was 12.
“My parents thought it was just that little girl phase where I wanted to ride a pony, but I just got hooked,” said Humphreys.
After working with horses for a bit in Ontario, where she grew up, she travelled to Alberta to study horse training and coaching at Olds College. Humphreys started her own training business in 2013, Dreamscape Horsemanship, at a ranch just north of Markerville after graduating.
“Seeing the change in each horse for the time we have them, that’s the reward,” she said. “Each horse is a different individual … and they all have their own personalities, quirks and spots where they need help.”
Humphreys and nine others from Alberta and British Columbia will compete for the title of Trainer of the Year at the Rocking Heart Ranch Colt Starting Challenge on Sept. 16.
“To be one of those 10 trainers that gets picked out of the hundreds that applied is a pretty big honour.”
Trainers received randomly selected horses on June 24 and have since spent hours breaking them under saddle and teaching them how to work, load and be a great family horse.
Humphreys has competed in the challenge before, finishing third in 2015. The horse she has this year is Docs Explosive Man – or Doc for short – and it’s a completely different animal than the one she had two years ago, she said.
“The horse I had last time was really easy to work with. I pretty much threw the saddle on his back, got on and rode – there was really no teaching him anything, he just knew.
“The one I have this time around is a little more on the timid side so things can bother him really easily,” said Humphreys.
This will be the first time Doc is performing in front of a crowd, which is something she hopes he’ll be OK with.
“There’s going to be people moving, arms waving and people screaming; that’s probably going to bother him the most.”
Trainers will bring the horses through a routine which will then be judged by a panel. After the winners are announced the horses will be auctioned off.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet day because they get auctioned off, you load them up in somebody else’s trailer and watch them drive away.
“It’s kind of like a bunch of little kids. They go off to school, you teach them all these things then you see them fly the coup because they’re grown up,” she said.
For more information on the challenge, you can visit www.rockingheartranchltd.com.