The Natural Horseman – Don’t judge a book by its cover.

By Steve Stevens

Through adversity here comes the youth of horsemanship.

At three colt starting competitions, I have had the privilege to watch and compete with a young man by the name of Tyler Brewster.

Tyler Brewster. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

In Gainesville, Texas, Tyler showed up with a bright smile and a quiet disposition. Probably many would have considered him an underdog due to his youth at the age of twenty-one and the fact that there were at least three other competitors with multiple wins and years of experience under their belts. Tyler quietly won the competition showing a confident young horse like it had been ridden for months after only three and a half hours of handling. I was one of the doubters in the young man at first. I thought he just got lucky and that it would be tougher on him at the next competition.

I ran into him again about a month later. This time I made a conscious note to keep a closer eye on him. What I saw was a man who was determined to help the horse. He took his time, always seeming to be a step behind the rest of the group. With that being said, by the time we got into the obstacle finals round, he once again showed a quiet horse like he had been ridden for months. And once again Tyler won first in the competition with yours truly placing second.

I am sure the naysayers would say he drew two easy colts in a row, but I saw more than that. It was the way these colts carried themselves. They connected with him and moved for him with grace.

But once again I said to myself, “Maybe a fluke. We will see how he does at the last competition of the year.” We just competed at Abilene, Texas, this last weekend and Tyler did what he had done twice before, delivering a quiet well-moving colt, trotting over rails, dragging logs and cantering all around the giant Abilene arena. Tyler did not win the competition this time and ended up only two points shy of making the finals in Vegas.

But what I saw was more impressive than any buckles and finals qualifications, which was an unassuming man with a gentle and slow approach to horses, delivering one horse after another to owners with a great beginning foundation and most importantly, Tyler gives horses confidence in the human being and to me you can’t value that in gold buckles.

I have gotten to know Tyler over the last three competitions and have recently learned that there is more to his story.

Ever since Tyler was a little boy he wanted to be a horse trainer watching guys like Clinton Anderson and Chris Cox on TV. Tyler grew up in Van Horn, Texas. His mom rode while she was pregnant with him and got him in the saddle with her as soon as she could. His mom said he cried more than any baby she had ever seen but never cried when he was on a horse.

His family had a lease where they had a small cow/calf operation, where they grew hay in the summer and grazed 200 steers on wheat fields through the winter. 95 percent of the cattle work they did was on 4-wheelers and Tyler always wanted to use horses instead.

In April of 2006, Tyler was 13 years old.

In his own words, “We were gathering steers to ship them. I was on my Appaloosa barrel horse my parents bought me to do playdays on and we had the steers about half a mile from the pens. I turned my horse to push a steer that was moving slow and my horse spun around in the other direction and ran off. I tried to one rein stop him to the left but I couldn’t get him shut down. He was dead running towards a six wire fence.

“Mom and dad were on 4 wheelers and got in front of him and he still wouldn’t slow down or stop so Dad rode up beside me and grabbed my right rein and it pulled him off the 4-wheeler, and my horse fell down and slid. I shattered my right elbow into 20 pieces and killed skin and blood vessels in my right leg from upper thigh to below the knee. The impact even cracked my helmet.

“After many surgeries and many months of therapy on my arm, it is still froze up. I have skin grafts on my leg and I only have one layer of skin over my knee. After my wreck I swore I would never ride again…that lasted about a week. Then I was counting down the days to get back in the saddle.”

Tyler says that his wreck humbled him and made him a much better person; it helped to shape his horsemanship skills and to always put safety first.

Years later, Tyler has to navigate around his injuries when training, but I think it has helped him figure out how to connect with the horses on a deeper level.

What some people might consider an obstacle has truly become a blessing for the horse.

In 2008, Tyler’s father passed away from cancer after a two year battle. Tyler and his mother then moved to San Angelo to heal.

Tyler has competed in multiple competitions and has shown mustangs at the Extreme Mustang Makeovers, making the finals in all seven events he has entered. His best placings were third at Norco, Calif., in 2013, third at Mustang Magic Invitational at Ft. Worth in 2014 and Champion at Norco, Calif., in 2015.

Even more impressive than Tyler’s success is the true young gentleman that he is. Even after winning an event, he is the first person to help grab other contestants’ equipment and load it in their cars.  It has been an honor to get to know Tyler and I would be truly blessed to have my own son grow up to become the man he is.

If this is any sign for the future of horsemanship, horses will have a bright future with their relationship with the human. I am proud to call Tyler my friend.

You can follow Tyler on Facebook as he continues to do competitions and trains horses for the public.