“My dream and goal are to become a better horseman, train horses and help others improve their abilities with horses.”
Those who know Matt Park of Oakley consider him an accomplished horseman readily congenial assisting anybody else with their horses.
That he is, but expansion of those abilities andbecoming a fulltime servant to horses and horse people are Park’s objective.
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” Most memorable quote of several by Winston Churchill fits Matt Park when hearing about his horse experiences and heartfelt feelings.
Interestingly Park wasn’t around horses much as a youth other than riding his Aunt Sharon’s horses on occasion. “I really didn’t get my first horse until I was in my twenties,” he said. “I decided I wanted to rope and practiced roping dummies every night in the barn.”
Then Park purchased a trained rope horses and competed in local jackpot team roping events. “I did mostly heading, never was really fast, but had a good time and won a little money sometimes,” he said.
Like many people starting out with horses, Park soon needed another horse and then some more. “I really enjoyed working with horses and decided to buy a couple broodmares,” he said.
Unlike some beginners raising horses, Park’s business venture proved positive. “I was fortunate to buy some well-bred performance mares and raised several good horses,” he noted.
“I started some of the colts riding and gave them limited use in our cattle operation,” Park said. “They were trained enough so others could get along with them and was able to sell some for a profit.”
New owners were successful with their purchases. Jane Johnson and trainer EJ Laubscher took one of his horses to a world show third place in working cow horse.
While Park was enjoying all his horse endeavors, that wasn’t the case with the rest of his family. “My wife at the time didn’t have as muchinterest in horses,” he said. “So, I ended up selling all my horses and bought a boat. That was okay, I guess.
“It was valuable time with her and my three kids, but I really missed the horses,” Park admitted.
Without horses for severalyears, Park’s passion for horses wouldn’t stop. “I just had to ride again. Life is so much better working with horses.”
Circumstances changed, and Matt went through a divorce, “which is challenging,” he emphasized.
Changing professions, Park now is a crop chemical applicator. “I’ve been doing this for eightyears,” he said. “The management is quite cooperative which works out well with my expanding horse interests.”
While still enjoying the roping aspect of working with horses, Park started participating in Kansas Western Horseman’s Association (KWHA) shows. “It’s fun competing in the variety of events, and I especially appreciate comradery of the other riders,” he said.
Park is a KWHA board memberactive in show organization as well as collecting competition circuit, state show and yearend awards.
Most arena and competition success previouslyfor Park was riding already well-trained horses.
“I became more interested in training horses at a level above what I’d done earlier,” he said. “I’d been intrigued by the Clint Anderson training methods for some time and wanted to improve my skills in that direction.”
He became a dedicated RFD TV follower of the Anderson program years ago. “I also acquired the Clinton Anderson videos and watched them over and over again,” he said.
His goodfriend Jill has been a successful barrel racer and is a strong supporter of Park’s training efforts. Jill’s palomino mare Jazz produced a now four-year-old grullo called Bella which Park has started andtrained with the Anderson Method.
“It’s a slow process but Bella is doing quite well,” Park credited. “Of course, Jazz is a good horse, so Bella has the genes to be great performance horse.”
Colby, Jill’s son, successfully shows Jazz in the KWHA youth division collecting awards. “Colby and I team up with Jazz and Bella and have had several good speed event times, too,” Park said.
Basics of the Clinton Anderson method, according to Park, are “respect, good manners,” listening to what the handler desires. “I back Bella everywhere because backing is the foundation of respect,” Park said.
Such a firm believer in the Anderson Method, Park feels fortunate to have been accepted to attend the Clinton Anderson Academy in 2023. “It’s not easy to get in and even more difficult to become a Clinton Anderson Certified Instructor,” he said.
Tuition is considerably high, but only ten students are accepted for each academy session. “I feel privileged to be given this opportunity,” Park said. “I even had to pay half the entire cost to guarantee my position there.”
Next spring, Park will spend two months at the Anderson training facility in Farmington, Arkansas. “I have to take two of my own horses each with 60 days riding experience,” Park said. “They must be trained to ride safety but no experience using the Anderson Method.”
Park has one horse in possession that he plans to take and is working to find a second trainee. “I will live in my horse trailer living quarters and keep my horses at the Downunder Horsemanship Training Facility,” Park said.
Program is designed for Park to work six days every week with the horses. “I will work with one horse in the morning under Clinton Anderson’s tutorship,” Park explained. “Then put the ‘method’ into practice during the afternoon with my second horse.”
Confident but with no guarantees, Park said, “Now not every student becomes certified upon completing the academy. The qualifications are very stringent.”
Without being shy of optimism, Park intends to become a Clinton Anderson Certified Clinician/Trainer.
“That title carries lots of weight in developing a fulltime profession working with horses and horse owners,” Park said. “I look forward to becoming a better horseman while inspiring the dreams of other horsemen and working with their horses.”