"Every rider is a horse trainer." Those words, as modern as tomorrow's headlines, were uttered nearly fifty years ago by Monte Foreman, a great American horseman whose contributions to Western riding, horsemanship education, and saddle design cannot be overstated.
Monte was a maverick, a freethinking Renaissance man with diverse talents ranging from boxing to drawing. Fortunately for us, his greatest passion was horses. Born in Alabama in 1915, he grew up riding race horses, playing polo, and jumping fences. Then he went west to become a cowboy. During World War II, he discovered the value of film in educating his fellow soldiers about riding. After the war, he signed on at the legendary King Ranch in Texas, where he ran the horse training and horsemanship programs, and further refined his ideas.
In 1958, Monte took his show on the road in a groundbreaking series of clinics designed for riders and their horses. Much of his riding focused on leads and lead changes, which were unknown to most Western riders at the time.
Monte was highly opinionated about riding and he was determined to elevate Western riding to the sophistication of other riding disciplines. Using slow-motion film, he was able to break down the mechanics of riding to allow anyone to learn.
Along the way, Monte found time to reinvent the Western saddle. With forward-hung stirrups, a closer contact seat, and a bulkless cinching system, the Foreman Balanced Ride Saddle made it easier to ride as Monte prescribed.
Monte Foreman died in 1987. He did not receive the recognition he deserved during his lifetime. Today, a handful of teachers and saddle makers actively carry forward his legacy. His influence can be seen if you know where to look, but the public remains largely unaware of him.
Monte wrote a book and produced three films, which are available today at VideoHorse.com. A TV episode and three radio interviews are available at my web site, TheHorseShow.com.
The most poignant of my radio interviews was with Monte’s son, Gary, who took Monte’s methods to the top of the show world. That interview airs in hour two of my radio show this week.
Thank you, Monte.