Colt-starting competition will feature four champion horsemen

Josh and Kelsey Peebles in the covered arena at the Union County Saddle Club with April, a horse belonging to their student, Nanon Russell.

Colt-starting competition will feature four champion horsemen

By Kendall McWilliams

BLAIRSVILLE – Four champion horsemen from across the Southeast will compete to start a halter-broke AQHA-bred filly or colt at the 5th Annual Ultimate Horseman’s Challenge: Champions Reunion colt-starting competition Sept. 29-30. The event will be hosted by All Purpose Horsemanship at the Union County Saddle Club Arena in Blairsville.

Taming and starting young horses is the foundation of horsemanship. Colt-starting competitions like the Ultimate Horseman’s Challenge allow qualified horse trainers to demonstrate methods of properly training young horses and teaching them basic obedience.

Josh Peebles, owner of All Purpose Horsemanship, started working with horses at age 14 when he began an apprenticeship with a local trainer. At age 21, he started a business of his own training horses for others. As a horseman and trainer with a breadth of experience, he began competing in colt-starting competitions at the suggestion of his now wife, Kelsey. The costs associated with traveling out West to contests ultimately inspired the couple to host a competition of their own.

“It was just expensive for us to keep going back and forth,” said Josh Peebles, “so we thought we might as well host our own.”

They did so for the first time in 2014. So far, the couple has successfully planned four events that have provided members of the equine community with fun, educational weekends centered around quality horsemanship and training. The schedule for this year’s event features competition sessions, trainer demos, obstacle course and arena riding, and a raffle drawing.

For the 5th annual competition, the Peebles have invited all four of the previous title winners back to the arena to compete head-to-head in a champion’s reunion. Josh Peebles, who won the competition in 2014, will be joined by 2015, 2016 and 2017 winners Taylor McIntosh of Alabama, Joe Williams of Florida and Johnny Cook of Georgia.

The trainers will compete using personal methods and training tactics while demonstrating to spectators the importance of quality horsemanship when working with young horses. According to Kelsey Peebles, the goal of the event is for the trainers to share tips and tricks that are vital to the foundational stages of training colts and fillies.

“There are so many bad examples of horsemanship out there, and we have the opportunity to provide people with an opportunity to see training in a different light,” said Kelsey Peebles. “The goal is to have the equine community take something away from it.”

This year the Peebles sourced all horses from Lost Creek Cattle Company, an AQHA breeder out of Lebanon, Tenn., to ensure an even playing field for the competitors. All four Quarter Horses, two geldings and two fillies, are sired by the same stud, born within a month of each other and have been handled the same way, ensuring fair competition for the trainers.

“Aside from cloning them you couldn’t get them closer to each other,” said Kelsey Peebles. “Our goal is always to make it as fair as possible. The fairer it is, the better the competition.”

According to Josh Peebles, the event draws in enough revenue to cover the cost of hosting, but his love for good horsemanship is compensation enough.

“It’s put on just because of our love for good horsemanship, and colt-starting and giving the horses the best deal that you could give them,” said Josh Peebles. “If someone in the crowd is able to take one thing away from this competition, then it will be a success.”

For more information and updates regarding the Ultimate Horseman’s Challenge: Champion’s Reunion Event follow “All Purpose Horsemanship – Training, Clinics & Events” on Facebook or contact Josh Peebles at 706.897.3244.

If you go …

The Ultimate Horseman’s Challenge will be held at the Union County Saddle Club Covered Arena in Blairsville from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, and 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30.

Union County Saddle Club Arena

73 Saddle Club Dr.

Blairsville, GA 30512

For more information contact Josh Peebles at 706.897.3244

Tickets are $15 for a single day and $25 for both days. Kids 13 and younger will be admitted free of charge.

Events will include demos, trainer meet-and-greets and a raffle drawing. The raffle drawing will be held at the conclusion of the event on Sunday. Two winners will select one of four Lost Creek Cattle Co. horses to take home. A limited quantity of tickets is available at $10 each.