If you count the predecessor to Road to the Horse, Craig Cameron has competed in this World Championship of Colt Starting four times. 2010 is the year he'll remember best.
He picked horse number 10, a scruffy-looking palomino with a thicker-than-usual winter coat. Craig admitted that he didn't really have a reason for his choice. "You never know what you've got until you get in the pen," he said.
What he got was a tough colt, as stand-offish as they come, who refused to look at Craig for the first hour. Nothing Craig tried seemed to work. He seemed to be running out of ideas, and that's probably when the tide turned for him.
The strategy that seems to work best at RTTH is simple: Let the horse set the pace. Work on the relationship first and the training second, even when time is running short and 5,000 people are watching your every move. Whatever you do, don't scare the horse.
When Craig plugged into this plan, things started getting better. Come time to ride, Craig abandoned the snaffle bit he'd gotten the horse to accept in favor of a rope halter and rope reins.
The test went well - not great - but that counts for relatively little in the judging anyway. What counts most is what happens in the training pens. The judges - and this year the audience, who registered their votes with text messaging - liked what they saw there and gave Craig the nod. The sixty-year-old Texas cowboy has a way of lighting up a room with his smile. This time, the smile came with a few tears. In a life chock-full of memorable days, I suspect this one will always be special.