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The Silver Spotlight - February 2011 - Road to the Horse

The Silver Spotlight - February 2011 - Road to the Horse

Five Questions with Road to the Horse founder Tootie Bland:


Q: Tootie, you’ve been putting on this incredibly unique and inspiring event since 2003. For our readers that are unfamiliar with the concept, can you explain what “Road to the Horse” is?

A: A point that I never want to get lost in the excitement of the event is that Road to the Horse is an educational event which just happens to be set in a Competition format. Our goal is to promote Natural Horsemanship to help build a better relationship between horses and man. If just one person out of 8,000 this year walks away with a better understanding of his/her horse then I consider us a success. The History of man and his horse does not read well, we have only in the past few years come to understand that we need to communicate with him in his language to create a lasting and trusting relationship. The good news for us is that the horse is one of the most forgiving animals on the earth. Road to the Horse’s goal is to lead the charge in educating people that there is a better way to create that partnership between man/woman and his horse.


Q: This year’s lineup of clinicians will once again allow spectators to witness some world-class horsemanship first hand. Individually, what unique approach does Pat Parelli, Chris Cox and Clinton Anderson bring to the competition?

A: What is more fascinating then the differences in the three Kings of Natural Horsemanship, Pat Parelli, Chris Cox and Clinton Anderson is the single thread that binds them all together and that is the love they all share for the horse. Each of them has dedicated their entire lives to help the horse through education of Natural Horsemanship. Their approaches to deliver the message may each have a unique quality but the message from them is the same. All you have to do is take a moment to speak with Pat, Chris or Clinton and you will not only find some differences in their teachings but you will become quickly aware that each will display the thread that binds them, the love they have for the horse. We are so blessed in the equine world to have these three gentlemen leading and sharing with us not only their amazing horsemanship but equally as important the life and breathe of the values of the western life style. You will not find any finer men than these three, Pat Parelli, Chris Cox and Clinton Anderson. They all are are fathers, husbands, teachers, community leaders, competitors, horseman, courageous, committed, horse lovers, pioneers, philanthropically active and friends.  


Q: In the western industry, it can sometimes be challenging to put on an event that captures the attention of the casual spectator and the respect of the professional equestrian at the same time. Why do you think this event has been so successful in achieving this?

A: Road to the Horse came from the heart. The single driving force behind it from day one was the love of the horse and the belief that if you were able to bring the finest educators of our day together in one arena, find the finest American Quarter Horses on the planet and educate in a competitive format you will find the truths in Natural Horsemanship. The universal appeal came from the simple truth that wither you own a horse or not you will experience a wealth of knowledge, watch a real life drama of a untouched horse meeting man for the first time and before your very eyes see the unimaginable happen, fear turned into confidence and partnership. Each year every single time I say to myself did I see that? Did that just happen? Unbelievable! And as crazy as this my sound each new year something more unimaginable than the time before takes place. It truly defies your imagination of what you think is possible and what is possible. It is short of a miracle and you have to see it to believe it.


Q: Over the past 8 years, what are some of the other things you have learned that are key to putting on a quality event?

A: That is simple … the key in everything we do whether it is producing equine events or serving hamburgers the answer is the same: respect and honesty. Coming from a ranching background the lesson is learned early but the true challenge is to live it day to day with everything you do. I was raised that your word is your bond and it is not what you say about yourself but what others say about you that matters in this life. The only path I have ever known is to respect all things and even though honesty can be a difficult at times it is the only way to go. I believe that Road to the Horse has set this example from day one and will continue on that simple path until it is over, so not so much what we have learned over 8 years but that Road to the Horse has proven that respect and honesty is the way to go with every person, job and animal in your life.


Q: A couple of years ago, Horse South Magazine named you the #1 influential horsewoman in the world. Tell us a little about your road to success and who has influenced you personally?

A: I am completely humbled by this award. I have no idea why they chose me, I am a simple cowgirl living on a ranch that loves the horse and growing tomatoes.


Road to the Horse runs February 25th – 27th in Murfreesboro, TN. Tickets have been sold out, but for the first time, the event will also be available to view via a live webcast.  For more information, visit