Dany Tremblay has spent countless hours in the saddle, building a close relationship with his horses and working to become the best trainer possible.
With a talent for reining, a Western riding discipline where horses are guided through a series of circles, spins and stops, and a passion for training, Tremblay found himself relocating from Canada to Overbook, Oklahoma in 2014.
His brother Fred came with him and helps manage their joint business, Tremblay Performance Horses.
“Since I moved to the USA, many, many things have happened,” Tremblay said. In 2019 alone, Tremblay won five different awards and this weekend he hopes to take home a few more after competing in the 35th annual Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity and Show at Hardy Murphy Coliseum.
On the last day of the week-long show, Tremblay will be taking his horses, named Lil Gun Affair and Gunnastepya, to the arena to compete against trainers and riders from across the world in pro-level reining events. “Those are two really, really good ones so hopefully we can win it, or get close to winning — but my biggest goal is to win it,” Tremblay said with a laugh.
Three judges will closely evaluate the horses’ every maneuver in a specific pattern and the one with the highest score wins. Points are taken off each time the horse deviates from the specific National Reining Horse Association pattern they are performing. Contestants can also lose points for the horse pinning its ears back, running sideways or appearing agitated in any way.
Training a reining horse takes an incredible amount of practice and skill, Tremblay said. The sport itself is considered to be one of the highest levels of training for western performance horses.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult things in the horse world because those horses have to be so broke,” Tremblay said. “We start them at a young age, usually between 18 to 24 months to get them started and then it takes about three years to get a horse ready for competition.”
Tremblay’s training philosophy centers around bringing out the horse’s best abilities as some are naturally better at stopping than others, and some learn how to slide quicker than others. But sometimes a good performance simply comes down to the deep bond that develops between trainer and horse.
“Those horses, they’re a part of the family. Those horses are so important, and of course we build a relationship with them,” Tremblay said. “The basic of reining is me and the horse being one. Those horses know me and I know those horses really well. I’m sitting on their back about five or six times a week so, you’ve got to get close to them.”
Come the National Reining Horse Association Futurity in late November, Tremblay hopes to take home a world champion title.