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Blog Tales from the LOPE Ranch

Ray Hunt, 1929-2009

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Ray Hunt at LOPE Clinic Ray Hunt at the March 2006 LOPE-hosted clinic

Ray Hunt was the best horseman I’ve ever known. In the early days after founding LOPE, I watched his colt starting DVDs over and over, hoping to learn more about horse training. Although I run a racehorse adoption ranch, my training credentials at that time were woefully thin. I needed a crash course and Ray’s videos seemed like a good start.

Ray was a holdover from another era, when horses were valued partners in the rugged work of large-scale cattle ranching. His imposing height and sardonic humor belied his gray hair – Ray was an impressive physical presence on camera. In his clinic tapes, he barked at the riders, recited poetry, squinted off into the horizon and gentled every equine rogue, no matter how wild or crazy. Ray was supremely confident in his skills, never once showing worry or fear – he’d just laugh and say something cryptic like “You got to take the bitter with the sweet,” or “It’s best to stay on the edge of trouble, not in the middle of it,” or “You got to adjust to fit the situation.”

I was fascinated with his mix of gritty machismo and zen-like slogans. Summoning up my nerve, I put in a request for LOPE to host a clinic with Ray in 2006, and he agreed.

That clinic changed everything for me.

Ray’s sharp eyes, crusty Yoda-like comments and deep respect for the horse made a profound impression on me. I turned away from horse training – and towards horsemanship.

It was a seemingly small shift – but like Ray says, “It’s the little things that make a big difference.” He taught me to recognize the smallest change, the slightest try in myself as well in the horses.

Because of Ray, I might not know where I’m going, but I’m sure not lost.

Thank you, Ray.

3 Comments

  1. JD says:

    Great story about a great man-

  2. You were blessed to be able to met Ray Hunt and learn from him and I am sure the horses you meet from now on will look a bit different through your new eyes. Thanks for posting this short article about him.

  3. Hubba says:

    We’re losing the old-timers too fast, huh?

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