The Road to the Horse 2023 is hosted by
Matt West – Official Host
Matt West has proudly hosted Road to the Horse since 2013, and will host the very first dedicated Wild Card Challenge. West can be most commonly heard as live event announcer for the PBR Unleash the Beast tour, the elite tour of the Professional Bull Riders and as the host of his podcast “Matt West Now.” Throughout his career, West has been part of the team for 12 PBR World Finals, has announced The American Rodeo, has been heard in iconic venues such as Madison Square Garden, AT&T Stadium, and The Staples Center in Los Angeles, and traveled not only across the USA, but also in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. When not traveling, Matt and his wife Megan own and operate their gym WESTFIT in Oklahoma and enjoy life in their hometown of Delaware, Oklahoma. Follow Matt on all social media platforms @MattLWest.
Dan James – Horseman’s Host
Dan James is a Road to the Horse fan favorite; fans have been intrigued with the roman-riding Australian horseman since his first performance at Road to the Horse 2012. James has held many titles at Road to the Horse as a past Champion, competitor, and entertainer. He adds Horseman’s Host to his already impressive list of Road to the Horse titles. Born in Queensland Australia on a small cattle farm and starting his first colt in his early teens sparked his hunger to understand more about the horse’s thinking patterns. After studying at Longreach Pastoral College, James began traveling the world to gain a better understanding of the horse. In 2008, James joined his good friend, Dan Steers, in Western Australia at El Caballo Spanish Horse Centre where they performed together each weekend. In 2009, Steers and James relocated to New South Wales and founded Double Dan Horsemanship. Now based in the United States, Dan James continues to perform, teach, and inspire horse lovers at the Australian Equine Performance Center, based in Midway, Kentucky. James is joined by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter Isabella and son Jesse.
Luke Gingerich is a horseman, clinician, and performer whose mission is to inspire and educate horsemen and women to better connect with and understand their horses, while developing a great relationship and achieving results together as partners. He specializes in liberty horsemanship and has been fascinated with it ever since he was a young boy. He also competes in reining, ranch versatility, and western dressage. Luke was the 2022 Quarter Horse Congress Open Freestyle Reining Reserve Champion and was also the 2022 International Liberty Horse Association Invitational Freestyle Champion. Much of Luke’s liberty work is founded on the basis that a horse naturally wants to mirror or be in sync with, other members of the herd. He channels that desire and instinct to read subtle shifts and changes in body language in order to create complex, high level maneuvers and behaviors that his horses can perform completely at liberty. The combination of both the mental and emotional connection, combined with the physical body control and muscle memory that this work creates, can then be carried directly over into riding in many other competitive disciplines. Luke currently presents at equine events throughout the country, and offers an extensive online coaching program for students, in addition to offering demos, clinics, and lessons at his home base training facility in Plain City, Ohio. Learn more at www.gingerichhorsemanship.com.
Originally from Georgia, Caitie Holtzman moved to Texas in 2006 to pursue a career in the Western performance horse industry. She is now based in Nocona Texas with her husband, Elliot where together they own and operate Versatile Horsemanship, LLC. They start colts, train Liberty horses, and compete in various aspects of the Western performance horse world; and like many folks, they also have roots in the Extreme Mustang Makeover competitions.
Aside from training and competing, the pair teaches and hosts clinics and lessons at their home facility and all across the state of Texas and Southern Oklahoma. Caitie was the Champion of the International Liberty Horse Association’s Invitational Freestyle event at Road to the Horse in Kentucky in March 2022, and was the Reserve Champion of the Road to the Horse Horsemanship Freestyle. She was a 2022 presenter at Art of the Cowgirl and performed a specialty act as a part of the opening ceremonies for the finals of World’s Greatest Horsewoman. The horses that Caitie performs her specialty acts and presentations with are not only Liberty horses but are also competitive in Cow Horse and Reining.
David O’Connor represented the United States in the sport of three-day eventing. He competed in two Olympic Games, winning a team silver at the 1996 Summer Olympics and an individual gold and team bronze at the 2000 Summer Olympics. At the 1999 Pan American Games, O’Connor took an individual silver and team gold and at the 2002 World Equestrian Games he assisted the US team to gold. After his retirement from competition in 2004, he became involved in the administrative side of international eventing. O’Connor has held top coaching roles for the US and Canadian national eventing teams, and was president of the United States Equestrian Federation from 2004 to 2012. During his career, O’Connor and his horses were awarded many honors, including equestrian and horse of the year awards from several organizations. In 2009, he was inducted to the United States Eventing Association’s Hall of Fame, and two of his horses have been granted the same honor. O’Connor is married to fellow international event rider Karen O’Connor, and the pair operate two equestrian training facilities in the eastern United States.
Tik Maynard is a trainer, coach, clinician, author, and international-level rider who has combined his love of eventing with horsemanship training. Tik grew up in Southlands, a small agricultural sector of Vancouver, British Columbia, where both his grandparents and parents shared their love of horses with him. His mother competed in grand prix dressage while his father was a grand prix show jumper. Tik competes in Three-Day Eventing for Canada. He authored his 2018 book, In The Middle Are The Horsemen, which was published by Trafalgar Square Books and translated into German in 2020. Tik has competed and judged at the Thoroughbred Makeover and is a two-time Makeover Freestyle Champion. Tik produces educational videos for Noelle Floyd Equestrian Masterclass and The Horseman’s University. Tik writes for various magazines and was a regular columnist for Off-Track Thoroughbred magazine. He and his wife, Sinead, operate Copperline Farm in Citra, Florida, where they teach clinics, camps and are regular guests on a variety of equestrian podcasts. Their goal is to show the world that not only can the worlds of horsemanship and eventing be combined, but by considering a horse’s psychology and combining it with Olympic aspirations, the end results are better, and the horse is happier. Learn more at www.copperequestrian.com.
The Woodhaven Wranglers
The Woodhaven Wranglers are an elite performance drill team from Allen, Texas. They are back to back National Drill Team Champions and they are the current 2022 USEDC Sportsquest International Champions. The Wranglers focus on performing creative drills that illustrate the beauty and athleticism of their horses with an emphasis on entertaining their audience. Good horsemanship and showmanship is at the core of what they do. The Wranglers are primarily a youth drill team with team members ranging in age from 13-22 years old. The team has been coached by April Evans for 11 years and a major component of the team is mentoring young women and providing a positive place for them to grow in their horsemanship. The Wranglers are honored to showcase their performance drill routine for the incredible fans at this year’s Road to the Horse. The Wranglers have been featured in Texas Lifestyle Magazine and performed at the 2022 Road to the Horse: Wild Card Challenge and this year’s Art of the Cowgirl. The selected team members performing are: Bella Greco, Jillian Garver, Jessi Ramos, Jaica Evans, Casey Perkins, Clementine Brown, Sarah Muckelroy, Camryn James, Caroline Hebert, Alex Sztajnert, Wynn Harrell, Tatum Myers
Laura Green-Hart is a horsewoman, mother and singer from Elizabethtown, Kentucky. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and she once pursued a music career in Nashville in the nineties, but left it to become a wife and mother. She and her husband, Lee Hart, run Hart Training together. They ride, compete and work together. Their goal is to train and provide performance horses for people who aspire to ride in events like Extreme Cowboy Racing, Ranch Versatility, Working Cowhorse and all around riding. Together they share 6 children and one granddaughter. Laura has had the honor of singing both the American National Anthem and the Canadian National Anthem at several EXCA National and World Championships, the Calgary Stampede, and a few Road To The Horse events, including the 2022 Wild Card Challenge in Ft. Worth where she was also Lee’s pen wrangler. As an Amercan, a mother, and a cowgirl, Laura has great respect and gratitude for our servicemen and women who protect us, for our farmers who feed us, and for our cowboys who strive to preserve a precious lifestyle. She is grateful for the opportunity to show her respect for America by singing our National Anthem for you all.
Fleur De Lis Vaulters
Equestrian Vaulting is described as gymnastics and dance performed in harmony on a moving horse. Vaulting is one of the oldest equestrian disciplines and is featured at the FEI World Cup. Vaulters can compete individually, in pairs (known as Pas De Deux), and as a team having up to 3 vaulters on the horse at one time. Vaulting teaches balance, strength, coordination, and teamwork all while having FUN! The vaulting community acts as one family and has something to offer everyone with any interest. Equestrian Vaulting USA is the governing body for vaulting in the US with over 100 registered vaulting programs nationwide. Fleur De Lis Vaulters is a non-profit vaulting program based in Lexington, KY. The club was founded in 2017 by Makayla Clyne and Mikhail Proctor. Through these coaches’ combined expertise, Fleur De Lis Vaulters found success in the competition arena as well as in demonstration performances. The team takes pride in acting as ambassadors for the sport of vaulting with the hope of continuing its growth and popularity. “We are embracing the connection between Horse and Human athletes through the Art and Agility of equestrian vaulting. We vault as one family expressing true Passion with Purpose.” ~Mission Statement
Asbury University Equine students are in the business of training horses. Our training program started twenty years ago training Percheron/TB horses to serve as police mounts. In the past year, we have added a western training program with Quarter Horses with an end goal of Western Performance and Liberty. Under the leadership of Jesse Westfall, our trainer in residence, the students produce safe, reliable mounts ready for active duty. The horses are brought in at 6 months of age and intended to finish when their trainer completes their college studies in four years. The weanlings learn to develop a calm, respectful disposition to handlers and others, and go through extensive ground training. As yearlings, they are desensitized to more a casual, common touch (like that of a farrier) and then sensitized to various cues and pressures. At 2 years of age, the horses are put under saddle and trained in both English and Western tack. They learn to respond to light cues, including leg pressure and seat position, and collect at walk, trot and canter. By age 3, obstacles become a fun way for the horse to learn (and trust the handler) in what would typically be a frightening situation. They are trained to go over, under and through a variety of obstacles (on a variety of surfaces). Horses ride in parades, in town and exhibitions as they begin to desensitize to city life. There are currently 58 service mounts and 15 Quarter Horses in our training programs. In the past seven years, the service mount program successfully placed 26 horses with police mounted units.
Mary Kitzmiller is a horse trainer and clinician based in Kemp, TX. She uses her years of knowledge gleaned from working with horse industry’s leading professionals to create outstanding performance horses. These skills led her to find incredible success in the Extreme Mustang Makeover Competition, winning over $50,000. Mary has also earned the honor of being chosen for Road to the Horse’s elite Wild Card Competition in 2014 and 2015. It is Mary’s passion to share what she knows with the public through clinics, lessons, and demonstrations. Mary subscribes to one key element in her horsemanship, and that is simply: Follow the Horse. The horse is never wrong, Listen, Watch, and Follow.