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A Legacy of Learning


When the 2015 Legacy of Legends Scholarships were announced at last year’s Gathering in Fort Worth, Carolyn Hunt immediately went about finding just the right placement for each recipient.

While she and Buck Brannaman cofounded the program that pairs students with horsemen who are carrying on the teachings of Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance, they don’t participate in the selection process. “We have a group of very knowledgeable and dedicated individuals that reviews and carefully evaluates all the applications. It’s not an easy task and they pour their hearts into it,” says Carolyn, who chooses to distance herself from the application reviews so as not to influence the committee, and to instead focus on finding the very best placements for their picks.

Out of the 40 applications the program received this year, eight scholarships were handed out. The number of awards varies from year to year, depending on applicants and the availability of funds. Scholarship funds come from sponsor contributions, supporter donations, Legacy of Legends merchandize sales and proceeds from the annual Gathering. “We give as many [scholarships] as we can and the numbers keep growing,” Buck says. “It’s all about honoring the legacy of Ray and Tom by helping people to work toward a life that is fulfilling and rewarding – and offers a better deal for the horse.”

“That’s the whole idea behind the program,” Carolyn says. “We’re not trying to make trainers or clinicians. Not everyone has to be out there in the limelight to find satisfaction in their lives and in their horsemanship.”

So if your goal is to associate yourself with a famous clinician in order to advance your own career as a clinician or trainer, the Legacy of Legends program may not be for you. Often the mentors Carolyn selects are relatively unknown to the masses. She and Buck both want the program to be about building horsemen, not about building resumés. A number of the mentors do not give clinics or take on students except through the Legends of Legacy program, which means scholarship recipients receive some very rare and unique learning opportunities.

The road to becoming a true horseman involves struggle and disappointment. It requires soul-searching and self-examination, and finding the humility to put the horse first. It’s not about external achievements or bragging rights. It’s about inner discovery and working on yourself, which Carolyn believes was the central message Ray and Tom were trying to convey. “The scholarship program to me is about helping people find the resources within themselves to recognize everything is a learning opportunity. It’s not just about getting on a horse. It’s about opening yourself up to possibilities.”

“Ray didn’t start out to do clinics. The clinics evolved out of his passion for horses and a need to show people how they could offer the horse a better deal,” Carolyn explains, adding that she hopes scholarship recipients will follow Ray’s example by finding their own path to fulfillment.

Although Carolyn seeks advice and guidance from Buck, the scholarship review committee and other knowledgeable horsemen, the final decision on where to place each of the scholarship recipients rests with her. “I have so many contacts from all the years of traveling with Ray, doing clinics, meeting and getting to see so many horsemen ride and work with Ray.”

This means that Carolyn personally knows everyone she places a scholarship recipient with, both as horsemen and humans. “They’re not just good horsemen; they’re good people who are living fulfilling lives through their work with horses. They are all people of integrity, who have traveled the same path the scholarship recipients are on. They’re just further along in the journey so that they can offer support, experience and guidance.”

It’s this exposure to how others live and utilize the lessons learned from Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance that Buck and Carolyn feel is essential to carrying on the legacy of great and compassionate horsemanship. The goal is for students to emerge from the program, not better than anyone else, but better than they were and with a better understanding of how the gifts left by these great horsemen can be incorporated into their own lives.

2015 learning opportunities included placements with: Anthony Desreaux, Brooke Hazlett, Jaton Lord, Kevin Stallings, Kip Fladland, Mark Schwarm, Mindy Bower, Patti Hudson, Pepper Fewel and Wayne Robinson. For more information about each of these horsemen or the scholarship program and how to apply go to: www.aLegacyofLegends.com

March 11-13, 2016
Fort Worth, Texas


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Patti Hudson
Patti Hudson grew up riding jumpers at Fort Sam Houston, where the Modern Pentathlon trained. But her family roots were out in west Texas and a few times a year her father would take her there to a friend’s ranch to ride. It fueled a love for cattle, horses and arid, open spaces that eventually led her to eastern Oregon. In mid-70s, she met Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance. Getting to know the two men changed more than her approach to horses; it started her writing career.