How Matt Koch is Preparing for The American Performance Horseman

How is this reined cow horse professional preparing for The American Performance Horseman? It's all about simplicity.

Koch on SJR Diamonds Justify in the Open Cow Work Finals | 2023 Teton Ridge NRCHA Stallion Stakes

The American Performance Horseman is a one-of-a-kind event, held in Arlington Texas on March 8th, 2024. The event took the Western industry by storm in its inaugural year and drew a large crowd to watch teams of some of the best horsemen in the industry compete for big money. Each team consists of a reined cow horse rider, a reiner, and a cutter. Riders face off as individuals and as part of a team, competing for big money.

Under the Bright Lights

Matt Koch, a well-respected horseman and cowboy from Elizabeth, Colorado, is heading to the bright lights of Globe Life Field. There he will compete with Andrea Fappani, and Wesley Galyean on Team Racing Green. Koch has racked up numerous wins in the reined cow horse and made a name for himself in the show world, but his tried-and-true methods for prepping for the big shows remain consistent. He keeps it cowboy.

“My biggest deal is to keep it as normal a workday as possible”, stated Koch, when inquired about how he was preparing for the event. “We treat it normal, so the horses don’t really know any different. I want them to act the same at home, or a big show, or a little show, or the branding pen, or just going to team rope on them.”

Cowboy Through and Through

Matt Koch is one of those horsemen that is just fun to watch compete. Folks take note when he enters the arena, and his humble nature is true to his cowboy roots. Even when preparing for a big show like TAPH, Koch recognizes the value in keeping his horse’s mind quiet and treating it like a normal day. He doesn’t shy away from treating his show horses just like his ranch horses, either. In fact, his show horses double as ranch horses on the daily.

“Everything that comes through our barn gets the environment and opportunity to go do something different”, says Koch. “Actually, the mare that I am showing at The American has doctored, branded, and been used outside. You just treat them like horses as much as possible and then they’re prepared for whatever.”

Koch will be competing on Smart Ladies Sparkles. A 2015 mare that has showcased her skills from the show pen to the branding trap.

Keep it Simple

With Koch and his wife, Brianna, running the operation together, they find that keeping things organized and ready to go are the secrets to packing efficiently. With the help of one other gal, the team keeps show gear tidy and in totes, ready to pack in the nose of the trailer and head down the road at a moment’s notice. Koch says this simplifies things, “Just clean your gear when you get home, put it back in the totes, and you stay ready to go.”

As the countdown begins to the event, Koch is feeling ready and excited. “Everybody that participated last year said that the energy was like something they’d never felt. To show in front of that many people will be an experience. And then we can say we’ve been there at least once.”

If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Matt Koch swing a leg over a horse and go down the fence, tune in to The American Performance Horseman and enjoy the show. From his riding style to his training philosophy, and his humble and respectful demeanor, Koch embodies the definition of cowboy. Whether he’s working horses in the arena preparing to ride for big money, loading horses to head to a roping jackpot, or doctoring a sick calf, Koch’s ideology remains the same. “We just try to keep everything as simple as possible.”

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