Trainer Spotlight with Monty Buntin
Author: Lauren Middleton
It has been a little while since our last entry in our CHC Trainer Spotlight Series, and it is past due! We always love being able to learn more about our trainers and get to know them a little better outside of the showpen. We were able to catch up with California trainer, Monty Buntin, who has been quite busy this year qualifying for the NCHA Open World Finals along with the $25,000 Novice and $5,000 Novice World Finals. His customers have also been extremely successful this year, and there is an obvious comradery among them. Here are a few things you might not know about Monty:
1. How did you get started in the sport and what made you decide to make it you career?
- I have always ridden horses for whoever would pay me to ride them ever since I was a kid. When I got a job loping circles for a cutter, making a hundred bucks a week I thought I was getting rich! I really fell in love with the sport of cutting though, after watching Austin Shepard win the Futurity on High Brow CD, I was hooked at that point.
2. Who have been your biggest influences and mentors over the years?
- I’ve been really fortunate to have had a lot of them. I kind of ran amok as a teenager and I was lucky that I ended up around a lot of great people, but there are a couple that stand out the most to me. Yancy James, I stayed with him and worked for him a lot when I was in my early teens. He actually introduced me to Lance Harrell, and that’s how I officially got introduced to cutting. Yancy was a great mentor at a time when i needed one and i wouldn't have gotten anywhere without his guidance. Tim Smith has off course stood out the most as my biggest critic and supporter from the day I met he and Diane. It has been a real blessing to be able to soak in what he has had to offer. I’d probably be a lot further along at this point if I would have listened to him more closely.
3. What would say is your favorite aspect of the sport of cutting?
- My favorite aspect of cutting is of course to ride a great horse. There is nothing like sitting in the middle of a great horse when you have a cow trapped. I’d have to say though, that my favorite part about what cutting has done for my life is the people that you meet. There are definitely a lot of opportunities to meet unique people that you would not normally get a chance to be around.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years? -
Well I would really like to make it into the Riders Hall of Fame, that’s definitely a goal of mine. Hopefully, I’ll be a little better showman, coach, and horse trainer. I just want to get better every year and hopefully by then I’ll learn how to ride the ups and downs of cutting a little better without stressing out so much. I’ve made some really good friends at the cuttings, and I would like to just enjoy the journey with them more. I have been known to be a little high strung.
5. If you were not a cutting horse trainer what would you want to be?
- A retired cutting horse trainer.
6. When you are not riding what do you like to do for fun?
- Nothing really, to be honest I enjoy what I do. Cutting is my hobby but if I’m not cutting I’m spending time with my wife. We have a lot of fun together no matter what we do.
7. What has been your most embarrassing moment in the show pen?
- Well there are plenty so that’s hard to say. It’s not usually when I’m showing, it’s has been when I’m helping. One of my customers was showing at the Western Nationals this year, and I was in the corner. Things got a little wild and I ended up losing my hat! Les Bates, without hesitation, went and got me a stampede string. I wore it the rest of the show.
8. What has been your overall favorite memory in the show pen?
- That’s easy, the Semi-Finals at the NCHA Futurity in 2012, on High Brow Jackson. I could not believe that I had actually just made the Finals, and to have everyone supporting me the way they were, I will never forget that.
9. Is there a specific moment that you can remember that got you hooked on cutting?
- When I was 10 or 11 years old I rode horses for a horse trader a few miles from where I lived. He bought an old retired broodmare that was a cutting horse. I brought up the roping steers and harassed the heck out of them. I’m sure it wasn’t very pretty but she was trying to work the cow. Even though I didn’t understand what was going on I remember loving every minute of it.
10. If you and your wife Tessa could go anywhere where would it be?
- Well this year has been a really long year so my first reaction is home, but we’ve always talked about going to Australia. Our good friends Trent and Claudia Smith live there and we hope to visit them someday soon.
11. What is your favorite stage of training a horse?
- Definitely the middle part of their two-year-old year. That is when they are really starting to figure out how to work a cow. Even when I’m not working them myself I enjoy watching that part.
12. If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming trainers what would it be?
- I would probably tell them to always plan for the best and never think about the “what ifs”. This is a mental game, spend time picturing yourself the way you want to end up. My favorite saying in the world is, “what you can see in your mind you can hold in your hands”. I believe the way you see yourself in the future is who you turn out to be, and it is your choice what you spend your time focusing on. Also, taking good care of your horses needs to be your number one priority.
13. You made the World Finals in the Open this year, what stands out the most about the year to you? Was there a specific trip or what is something special about the year as a whole?
- I feel like hauling is a great thing that everybody should do at least once. It really brings everybody together; the team feel that you get about halfway through the year is really special between the people that are working with you and all of your customers. It is a pretty amazing feeling for everyone involved especially at the end of the year. - We had a lot of really great trips, one that sticks out to me is having to chain up on the top of the Sierra Pass. We had four rigs, two of mine and two of Bravehart’s (Eric Wisehart). We didn’t have chains so we had to buy some for all the rigs in a small mountain side chain shop, turning an 8-hour drive to Idaho into a 16-hour drive.
For more information about Monty Buntin be sure and visit his CHC Trainer Profile