After what young Andy considered a “near death” experience after his pony ran away with him and bucked him off on the county road, he moved in another direction. He continued to enjoy working with cattle and showing livestock in 4-H, but kept his distance from the horses. He kept his distance until an old family friend put a rope in his hand. He quickly took to team roping, energizing his competitive nature and regaining his passion for horses.
Team roping led to an interest in rodeo, but living in a small ski town limited his ability to compete in high school rodeo. As high school graduation neared, Andy found himself researching the top agricultural universities with competitive rodeo teams when he came across California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, California. Andy joined the rodeo team and fell in love with the sport of Saddle Bronc riding while earning his B.S in International Agricultural Business. His time at Cal-Poly began to shape his future with horses.
One weekend a good friend invited him to tag along to the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, Nevada. As he watched the highly trained horses compete in traditional vaquero events, he was hooked and his interest never wavered, but rather continued to increase. With a growing interest in training and competing, Andy spent a semester interning for the renowned natural horsemanship clinician Craig Cameron of Bluff Dale, Texas. His time spent with Craig training horses and conducting horsemanship clinics across the country instilled a pride for developing comfortable and relaxed horses that riders are able to communicate with confidently. Cameron’s program quickly became a model for what Andy would eventually use as the foundation of his training program. This foundation has been combined with skills learned from some of the leading cutting and reined cowhorse trainers.
After receiving his diploma from Cal Poly, Andy hit the rode and joined the PRCA, competing in Saddle Bronc. He loved the open road and climbing on a rank horse, while pushing himself to improve with each ride. He found himself making the short round at several of the largest rodeos and qualifying for the Mountain States Circuit Finals.
While rodeoing, Andy spent a winter in Weatherford, Texas, and began riding under the guidance of million dollar cutting horse trainer Bruce Morine. During this time, Andy gained essential knowledge about starting two-year-olds, working horses on cattle, and preparing finished show horses for competition. Along the way, Andy was fortunate to make several contacts in the cutting horse industry that would continue to influence his philosophy and training program. After a successful run working with Bruce, Andy began his own colt starting company just outside Weatherford in Millsap, Texas. While operating this business, Andy started some of today’s top cutting horses, which have gone on to win and place at prestigious cutting events across the country.
Although Andy had developed a thriving colt starting business, his insatiable quest for knowledge and passion for reined cowhorses got the best of him. With that, he decided it was time to put his business on hold and continue learning from the pros to increase his abilities. Initially he made the move to Leading American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Breeder Carol Rose Quarter Horses in Gainesville, Texas. While at Rose’s, Andy worked under head trainer Chris Dawson and continued to further his knowledge of reined cowhorses. Working for Carol Rose and Chris Dawson thrust Andy even further into the industry as he fine-tuned his skills not only with reined cowhorses, but reining and rope horses as well.
After his stint at Carol Rose’s, Andy made an additional move to work under Corey Cushing of Scottsdale, Arizona, who many have dubbed as one of the hottest young trainers in the reined cowhorse business. While working for Corey, Andy gained an entirely new insight on training. During this time, he learned necessary skills and increased his patience level to produce calm and precise show horses that are able to properly display their talents in the practice and show arenas. While under the guidance of Corey, Andy made his debut at the prestigious NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity riding Hesa Stylish Pepto. Competing in the event provided Andy with the confidence to personally train a horse to reach the highest level of competition offered in the horse industry.
With a strong business knowledge and even greater experience at the highest level of horse training and competition, Andy returned to his native roots of Steamboat Springs to reopen his training business with the goal of producing quality horses in his hometown. He has gone onto to attract top caliber horses and compete across the country, including the AQHA World Championship Horse Show and NRCHA Futurity. In addition, Andy wanted to focus on helping riders become reliable leaders, while adding clarity to their riding skills and partnership with their horse by conducting a variety of horsemanship clinics for all levels of riders. With that, Andy Kurtz Horsemanship & Performance Horses was born. Andy has found his place, combining his passion for both horses and people.
You can learn more about Andy Kurtz by visiting www.AndyKurtz.com.