Valley Journal
Valley Journal

This Week’s e-Edition

Current Events

Latest Headlines

What's New?

Send us your news items.

NOTE: All submissions are subject to our Submission Guidelines.

Announcement Forms

Use these forms to send us announcements.

Birth Announcement

Go for Broke

Hey savvy news reader! Thanks for choosing local. You are now reading
1 of 3 free articles.

Subscribe now to stay in the know!

Already a subscriber? Login now

RONAN – Three men succeeded in breaking previously untouched colts in a four-hour time span at the Ronan rodeo arena over the weekend, but one trainer’s superior showmanship brought the crowd to its feet and won over the judges to bring home the buckle. 

Sparky Wallace of Fairfield was named champion of the third annual Rocky Mountain Breeders Association Round Pen Shootout on Aug. 9. 

“That is a true horse whisperer,” commentator Bobby Pecora said as Wallace climbed upon the back of his two-year old filly and cracked a whip. It was the third time Wallace climbed on the horse’s back and leapt during the competition in a show that he was confident the green broken creature would not buck him off. 

Wallace was also the only competitor to complete the entire obstacle course, which required contestants to walk horses over a wooden bridge, pull a barrel and weave through poles. The bridge was the sticking point for fellow competitors Patrick Severance and Jim Davis, who spent most of the 15-minute time limit for completing the course unsuccessfully trying to get their horses over it. Wallace walked his horse over the bridge twice, and parked the filly on top of the bridge so he could leap from her back one of the times. 

Wallace said he enjoyed turning the headstrong unbroken colt into a horse that would allow his daring actions. 

“I picked that horse because I kind of thought what she would be like, and she was,” Wallace said. “She was a little stickier than I’d like. She’d sull up if you asked her too much. She’d pit her ears back and stick her heels in the ground. She’s the kind of horse you could beat her into a pulp and she just would have went backwards.” 

Wallace said the night laid a foundation for the rest of the horse’s life. 

“If somebody treats her right, she’ll be a great horse,” Wallace said. 

At times it seemed Wallace was moving at a glacial pace in progress compared with Davis and Severance. The other two contenders were rubbing their horses and running them around the arena within the first quarter-hour of the competition, when Wallace was still reaching out a gentle hand and crouching near the animal to acclimate it to his presence. 

“I really liked Sparky’s approach,” Pecora said. “It’s really different from the others’ approach, but you saw in the obstacle course that it worked.” 

Wallace’s unique training methods included placing a tarp over his and the horse’s heads.

The outstanding showmanship got a cheering response from the crowd, but it was the second place winner who took home the people’s choice award. 

Jim Davis of Deer Lodge was voted the winner by the audience. Though the trainer didn’t get his horse through the entire obstacle course, he said he was happy with the progress. 

“These horses have been through a lot,” Davis said. “It’s like sending a five-year old kid from kindergarten to high school for a day and expecting them to come home happy. It’s a lot.” 

Third place winner Patrick Severance of the Gallatin Valley said he was also happy with the outcome of the event. 

“My colt showed me a lot of nice heart tonight in the round pen,” Severance said. “ … She did a good job.” 

Sponsored by: