Heath Marshall always had a way with horses and now he is making his living by teaching others how to communicate with a horse.
Marshall, who now lives in Penrose, started his first colt under the saddle at the ripe age of 12.
“My dad bought a 2-year-old gelding from a ranch nearby and gave him to me as a project. My dad trained horses and was very good at it so I learned a lot from him back then,” Marshall said.
When Marshall was breaking his first colt, a man drove by and admired the way that Marshall was training that colt, and eventually Marshall was finding himself with other people’s horses to train.
“He must have liked what he saw because he then asked me if I could train his horses. From there on it kind of snowballed and I trained through high school and then after high school I joined the Air Force. After serving four years, I went right back to training horses,” he said.
“It’s just something that I crave and that I really enjoy doing.”
Marshall found himself wanting to know as much as he could about the natural horsemanship training process and begin studying methods and styles used by other trainers.
Within time, Marshall developed his own style of training and his very own training methods.
“I really enjoy the natural horsemanship methods because they are comprised of patience, trust, acceptance and respect; which if you have ever spent any time around a horse, those four things are very important,” Marshall said.
“With natural horsemanship, pressure and release is a huge part of it and pressure and release to me is one of my biggest training methods.”
It didn’t take long for people to discover Marshall’s talent and way with a horse.
His training program has gained him wide recognition both locally and nationally, and he has satisfied customers from all over.
Marshall typically takes in between three to four horses at a time during training, therefore he can spend as much time as needed with each individual horse.
If I take to many horses in, something is going to be comprised.
In addition to training horses and putting on clinics, Marshall also has found enjoyment, in addition to success, at training competitions.
“I have been in three Extreme Mustang Makeover’s; two in 2008 and one in 2010. Out of those three makeovers, I ended up keeping one of the mustangs. We call him Ricky Bobby and I have won on him in the mounted shooting, where we won a world title in 2010. He (Ricky Bobby) has also been in several magazines. He is pretty popular!”
Marshall also found a lot of success at an event in Alberta, Canada called the Mane Event, Trainers Challenge. The Trainers Challenge is an event where three trainers are chosen and they will go head to head in a competition to successfully start a colt.
Whoever does the best job of stating the colt, in addition to teaching the audience how to successfully train a colt, wins the event.
“The Trainers Challenge is very exciting. Three trainers are chosen, and then we are given a colt, drawn from random, that has never been handled. From then on there is a time limit each day for the three days of competition. We got an hour a day with our colts and after the third day was over, we competed in a finals routine. During the finals routine they’re judges judging us on an obstacle course set up in the arena in front of the audience,” said Marshall.
Marshall won the event in April, which he admits is one of the most dignified and favorite titles that he has ever won.
“It was a lot of fun and very fulfilling. In addition to having to take your colt thru the obstacle course, you were also judged on how well you educated the audience. Thirty percent of the score was based on the education, which to me says a lot about a trainer and I felt honored to win the competition.”
Now that it is winter, and the ground is freezing and the temperatures are quickly plummeting, Marshall’s schedule slows down, but it will quickly pick up when spring hits.
“Winter slows down but once spring comes around things will start getting crazy again. I will more than likely be doing a horsemanship clinic in December at some point, just depending on how the weather is supposed to be.
“Those clinics are focused primarily on how to communicate with your horse, and we also do some colt starting where I do a lot of demonstrations and confidence builders for the rider and the horse as a team.”
If you would like to know more about Heath Marshall and his horsemanship training and clinics, visit his website at www.heathmarshallhorsemanship.com.
You can also check on his Facebook page to see when his next clinic will be held and where.
© Copyright 2016 The Pueblo Chieftain & Star Journal Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.