The Natural Horseman – A conversation with Colt Starting Challenge USA’s Russell Beaty

By Steve Stevens

I have been fortunate enough to get involved with and compete at multiple colt starting competitions with Colt Starting Challenge U.S.A., owned and operated by Russell and Cristy Beatty of Maui, Hawaii.

Russell has put on and competed in over one hundred colt starting competitions. I thought it would be exciting to share a conversation with Russell about the colt starting challenges and working with young horses.

Russell riding a colt wearing one of his signature Hawaiian shirts. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

Steve: What gave you the idea to start Colt Starting Challenge U.S.A.?

Russell: I saw a colt starting challenge put on by a top clinician and my friend who was an excellent trainer. I thought, “I can do that!”

Steve: Over the last couple of years have you seen many changes in the competitors’ techniques?

Russell: Yes, they are getting better and quieter with their horses in our events. They also are able to read their horses better.

Steve: After doing over a hundred colt starting competitions yourself, what do you think the most important thing is when starting colts?

Russell: Making sure you do all the groundwork needed to prepare the horse first, before you even consider getting on it. Also get the horse to like you. Don’t be influenced by other trainers who may be getting on their horses too early.

Steve: Watching hundreds of competitors over the last couple of years, what are the biggest mistakes contestants make when working with their colts?

Russell: Wearing the horse out too quick by riding it too long the first day. Also, not petting on the horse enough when the horse did good, and not letting it stop and rest enough.

Steve: What advice would you give someone wanting to learn how to work with young horses?

Russell: Find a good trainer and try to apprentice them.

Russell at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

I will be competing in the last competition of the season in Abilene, Texas, this Friday and Saturday at the Taylor County Fairgrounds at 6 p.m. both nights.

This competition will be especially exciting because there are two competitors on the bubble of making the Finals.

I am excited to share that after placing second at the Huntsville, Texas, competition this past weekend I have secured a spot in the Finals which is going to be held in Las Vegas, December 7-9 at Cowboy Christmas during the National Finals Rodeo.