As promised, Alana and I have some answers for y'all from our semi-recent Dinner Date with Al Dunning. Where else to take a cowboy, but the Uncle Buck's Steak House attached to the massive Bass Pro Shop (hunting, fishing, and outdoor sports) in Grapevine, Texas? Just to make y'all jealous to let y'all know, we had a great time with Al. Some people with big names get big heads, but not Al Dunning. He's friendly, humble, sincere, and full of knowledge. He was more than happy, in fact quite eager, to answer the several questions readers posted on our blog and on our Facebook page.
Judy Falzon: How do you see new trends in training and competing these days and in the future? Better? Worse? Interesting? Troubling?
Al: I see trends for what they are -- just trends. There will always be fads in the horse industry, whether they're in fashion or training. The thing about trends is, they come and go. So, I don't really concern myself with trends. I stick with what I know best, what's worked for me, and what's right for the horses.
L.A. Pomeroy: OK Al, I'll put my 'classic icebreaker question to ya. Do you remember your first horse (or pony), and what did that horse teach you as a rider and as a horseman, that you have carried with you to this day?
Al: My first horse was Roxy, an older bay mare. We bought her in 1958 when I was 10 years old. I had no saddle, and I had to learn to ride bareback. She took the fear about riding horses away from me. She was a cool horse.
April Fingerlos: When are you coming to the Denver metro area for a clinic in 2010?
Al: I'll be at CSU in June!
April: Do you mind if a super well broke horsemanship/western pleasure horse shows up, and wants to use basic reining skills to start scoring higher in pattern work without actually stepping toward a reining class? Or, is that too distracting to your reining-focused participants? (this horse couldn't do a sliding stop to save his life--his back is WAY too long to get his hocks that far under him!) We wouldn't show up at a cattle clinic, though I have used this horse to hold the herd in the cutting pen before.
Al: Actually, this happens all the time. What I do, is use basic reining fundamentals to make a better-broke horse. The horse will stop, turn, and maneuver better; he'll rein better, with out actually being a reining horse.
April: What did you ask Santa for, for Christmas? I imagine a LOT of riders asked for a clinic with Al!
Al: I just ask for my family to be together--for the people around me to be happy. I believe it's always better to give people happiness, rather than give them "stuff."