Discover A Day in the Life of World Renowned Reining Horse Trainer and Competitor, Jesse Beckley
Are you curious what it actually takes to become one of the best in horse reining? Follow Jesse Beckley from his family ranch, Three Bars Ranch, in Canada to the west coast of America for training and competitions--a long ride to success and fulfillment.
by Claire Caldwell
Claire Caldwell with Equitrekking: Your family has been in the business for at least 3 generations now. What led them to horse training? Was there any inkling of a drive for you personally to pursue a different career?
Jesse Beckley: My family started with raising, training and selling horses in southern Alberta, Canada. That was 4 generations ago. I am not sure what got them into the profession, but I would imagine that during those days there was a larger demand for broke horses. I never personally had any desire to pursue another profession. My parents never pushed me into horse training, but I knew at a fairly young age that if this was what I wanted to do I would have to commit fully.
Claire: Sounds like you're a true horse reiner, born and bred. It's no surprise, then, that various blogs mention that as an adolescent you trained for five years in Oklahoma and California under at least 2 of the top 5 reining horse trainers in the world. What does an average day of training look like for you? Where else in the world have you completed training?
Jesse: An average day for me would consist of showing up at the barn first thing in the morning and jumping on the first horse of the day. I usually start with my younger horses in the morning and go from there. On a typical day I will ride 10-12 horses, and I always have to keep a close eye on my assistants to keep them on the right path. I have spent a lot of time in Oklahoma and California working for other trainers. I still try every year to travel and spend time with other trainers that I respect. I have ridden with people all over Canada and the USA.
Claire: It seems you've had quite the opportunity to travel around the North American continent while training. Have you completed any other education and was it useful in your current career?
Jesse: I didn’t go to university or college. The day I graduated from high school I got in my truck and drove to my first real job in Oklahoma, working for Bob Loomis. For a horse trainer, the years spent as an assistant trainer are like their university years. You don’t make much money and you work your butt off but hopefully at the end of it you have acquired a lot of tools to help you throughout your career.
Claire: Sounds strenuous! But it must be worthwhile in the long run. Just to clarify for the readers, what exactly is a reining horse?
Jesse: I guess the best way to describe reining horses would be to say that they are like the gymnasts of the horse world. They perform a variety of maneuvers all on a loose rein. Some of the maneuvers include the sliding stop, which involves the horse speeding to a gallop and then planting its hind hooves so as to halt suddenly; the spins, which entail that the horse start from a standing position and spin 360 degrees around its planted hind hoof, coming to a halt at a precisely marked spot; and the circles for which the rider steers a horse in perfectly round circles of varying sizes, speeding the horses pace to a gallop for the larger circles and slowing it to a lope for the smaller circles.
Claire: The story of your win at the National Reining Breeders Classic in Texas is quite impressive. What are two of the other most memorable stories of competitions in which you’ve participated?
Jesse: I guess another big show for me in my career would have to be Oklahoma in 2005. I qualified a really great little mare in the limited open affiliate. That mare was a great show horse and when the finals came she was right there for me and gave me another championship. That was the first big win for me in my career and that really gave me a lot of confidence in my program at the time. It seemed like competitions got easier for me from that point on. That little mare was very special to me for obvious reasons. After that show, she went into retirement in the broodmare band. Just a couple of years ago, the owner brought her back to me after 4 years of retirement to show one last time at a major event in Canada just for fun. I only had that mare back in training for 2 weeks before the show. She went on not only to win the open but she also set a new lifetime high score for herself. That was a great feeling for me as a trainer.
Claire: What an amazing victory story. As for the other horses with which you've competed, at the National Reining Breeders Classic, you were riding a horse named Mizzen Whizzen. What is the name of the horse you ride most frequently now?
Jesse: I have a lot of horses that I ride now, but some of the names are: Ten Reasons, Zins Whiz Kid and Pepanics Whiz, just to name a few.
Claire: How long, typically, is the span of a reining horses’ career?
Jesse: The career of a reiner can last up into their teens. I would guess the average would be 8-10 years.
Claire: What is your preferred breed of horse? Do you prefer riding stallions (male horses) or mares (female horses) and are there generally noticeable personality differences between genders?
Jesse: I mostly only ride quarter horses, an American breed known for its ability to sprint short distances; and a few paints, another American breed. I really don’t have a favorite gender to ride. Many guys don’t get along great with mares, but I have won a lot of money on mares. I guess a good horse is a good horse.
Claire: There's nothing quite like a good horse! Where in the world have your horses led you to tour during your career as a horse trainer and competitor? Do you have a favorite destination?
Jesse: We spend a lot of time on the road going to horse shows throughout the show season. I have been to almost every province and state in the western North America. I think my favorite place to show is Katy, Texas.
Claire: Texas, eh? Maybe you should have considered rodeo! If you had to give a 12-year-old advice on how to become such a renowned trainer and competitor as yourself, what would that advice be?
Jesse: There is no substitute for hard work. People always say how they would love to have that kind of talent, but I really believe that hard work becomes talent.
Claire: Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. Now, just tor fun—when is your birthday? What is your favorite food? What is your favorite hobby outside of work? What is your favorite retail outlet?
Jesse: My birthday is March 25. I love to eat Italian. My favorite past-time is to travel, and I shop most frequently at Cowboy Country Clothing.
Thus, long story short: all it takes is a dream and a bucking determination--and a slight familiarity with horses doesn't hurt--to live the dream of a horse reiner!
Learn more about great British Columbia Ranches in the Equitrekking Vacation Guide.
Author Bio: Claire Caldwell is a freelance journalist, pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature and French language at American University in Washington, DC. She is an avid world traveler, having lived in the United States as well as Europe she has also spent time in the Caribbean and Northern Africa. While living in Paris, France, Claire blogged about the differences between linguistic and cultural traditions between America and France as well as about hot-spots and tips for traveling to the City of Lights. She has also worked for the women's travel site, Pink Pangea, blogging about safe ways for women to travel the world independently. She is currently pursuing creative ventures while finishing her degrees.