The Idaho horseman’s road to the championship includes plenty of twists and turns.
Photos and Story by Ross Hecox – Western Horseman
Wade Black returned to Road to the Horse competition and claimed the prestigious colt-starting championship in grand fashion. Held March 25–28 in Fort Worth, Texas, the Idaho horseman earned the $75,000 winner’s check riding Sixes Ridinghood, a Four Sixes Ranch gelding by Sixes Pick and out of Red Ridinghood.
Black won the wild card division of Road to the Horse in 2019, which earned him a spot in the RTTH main competition. He was slated to compete against renowned horsemen Craig Cameron of Bluff Dale, Texas, and Ken McNabb of Lovell, Wyoming. However, RTTH 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With continued restrictions in place in Lexington, Kentucky, where the event has been held since 2013, show organizers moved the 2021 location to Cowtown Coliseum in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Fans filled the stands to cheer for Black, Cameron and McNabb.
Black says that his 2021 horse was more challenging than his 2019 wild card horse.
“I didn’t know if we would make it around any obstacles [in the final round],” says Black of Homedale, Idaho. “Because in the previous rounds, I’d ask him to do something, and he’d get frustrated and kind of shut down on me. So I was fortunate today, and there were so many people praying for me. It was awesome today. He was a different horse. He had a lot of life and was bucking and on the verge of running off. But I can take that. I’d rather have that than him sulled up and not moving.”
Despite three broncy moments, Black stayed aboard, and judges credited the horseman for remaining calm and patient. By the end of the round, Sixes Ridinghood completed the obstacle course with a relaxed and willing demeanor. Black earned 1,417 points during the competition. In Round 1, Black built a 41-point lead over his fellow competitors, and he held his lead over the remaining two rounds. McNabb scored 1,373 total points, and Cameron earned 1,300.
RTTH 2021 once again included a wild card division, and it included Cole Cameron of Bluff Dale, Texas, Wylene Davis of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Craig Moore of May, Texas. Cameron, the son of main competitor Craig Cameron, won the division on Sixes Wrapper, by Sixes Pick and out of Pink Wrapper.
“Once they announced me for Road to the Horse [wild card competitor], I didn’t know how much of a chance I had to win this,” Cameron says. “But for the past two years I have borne down and worked with my dad day-in and day-out, working with colts and starting tough ranch horses. I was pretty confident coming into this. After being here and winning this, I know my strengths and my weaknesses, and I see where I need to slow some things down when I compete next year.”
After winning the wild card, Cameron will compete as a main competitor at RTTH in 2022. The annual event strives to entertain and educate fans in the art of natural horsemanship. Contestants have three days to start an untrained 3-year-old gelding bred and raised by the Four Sixes Ranch of Guthrie, Texas. The first two days each include an hour and 45 minutes of roundpen work. The final day includes 20 minutes of roundpen work, and then 35 minutes to complete rail work and an obstacle course.