Chris Krieg has been riding horses his whole life, but found his passion after going to a Ray Hunt and Dennis Reese clinic.
“I never really forgot about it,” he said. “I thought maybe I should go over to his house and see if I could get a job.”
Chris showed up and offered to clean stalls in exchange for learning how to train horses.
“He never actually made me clean stalls,” he said with a laugh. “I traveled all over the United States with him learning how to start colts, doing clinics and demonstrations.”
Following that, Chris went on to work for an assistant trainer of the late and great Greg Ward.
“Greg was his idol,” he said.
Through his connections, Chris got in touch with Greg’s son, John Ward.
“John told me that if I wanted a job I could come down and take it,” he said.
Chris started with the Ward Ranch in August 2007, and has been training alongside John ever since.
“That was a week after John won the World’s Richest on Smart Little Pepnic at the National Stock Horse Association show in Paso Robles,” he said.
The next year, Chris traveled with John to the Snaffle Bit Futurity, where John won on Black Pearl.
“That was my first introduction into cowhorse,” he said.
As humble as they come, Chris couldn’t tell you the first class that he won. But, he could tell you every detail about the horses he’s shown from the Ward Ranch program.
Three of the most memorable horses being; Smart Little Pepnic, Reminics Pep, and Black Pearl.
“Reminics Pep was the last horse Greg Ward won the Snaffle Bit Futurity on in 1988,” he said. “Pepinic and Reminics Pep are history.”
Watching such amazing athletes and learning from Greg and John Ward, Chris has picked up a few bits of wisdom over the years.
“Patience is probably a big one. As a young trainer you don’t realize how much time and patience it takes to make a good horse,” he said. “It takes a long time. Patience makes a good horse.”
Additionally, “trying to keep your confidence as a young trainer is hard,” he said. “You want it now, and you mess up so much trying to get there, to get to the point where you actually feel like a horse trainer.”
“It pays off, and you feel good, once you start making a horse and you make it to the Snaffle Bit Futurity, or you win your first class, or you win a big show.”
Chris has been to the Snaffle Bit Futurity on multiple occasions, and reflects on the tenacity and consistency it takes to win.
“When you do cowhorse you have these three events, and that’s a lot for these young horses to remember,” he said. “You have to spend a lot of time teaching them. And the reason the Snaffle Bit Futurity is so hard, and you see the top guys at the top all the time, is because those guys know how to show a three year old and get through all three events.”
“You’ve got to be a good hand to do these events.”
Chris has been working with a futurity colt, One Time Reno, for the last two years. He was purchased by Doreen Dalbey at the Snaffle Bit Futurity as a yearling, and has been brought up in the Ward Ranch program.
“He’s been easy, he’s an easy horse. You just have to ride him,” he said. “He picks up on it pretty quick, he’s always been easy and fun.”
“He is smooth everywhere; he’s smooth to stop, he’s smooth to lope.”
When asked about what he’s going to do to best prepare ‘Reno’ for the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity, he laughs and says “not mess up.”
“I want to make it enjoyable for him. I don’t want him to have bad habits or be unhappy doing it,” he said. “I just need to keep showing him ‘this is your job’ and making it enjoyable for him.”
“Keep working at it, and teaching him how to get better at it.”