Alicia “Buckskin Ali” Massie is currently preparing for the Rocking Heart Ranch Colt Starting Challenge that takes place on September 16 in Fort Macleod, AB. She has been given 60 days to train Frosty, the horse she drew randomly from a hat, and it is an opportunity for the 28-year-old Fort Steele resident to be chosen as one of the top ten trainers in Western Canada.
“When you get the horse it’s only halter broke, so that’s as far as it goes,” said Massie. “And they might have had their feet trimmed but they’re not handled by people very day.”
This type of competition showcases the importance of training young horses by highlighting a trainer’s ability to teach their horse fundamental techniques like loading into a trailer, gait control and bridle manners.
“It’s everyday ranch work that you would do and you try to do it as soft as you can,” Massie explained.
There is also a freestyle segment at the end of the competition that allows the trainer to demonstrate all extra training they have taught their horse. Massie for example has taught her horse to lie down on command, walk through dark pools of water and to let her stand up on top of his back.
Massie has been riding horses since she was 12. After taking around two years off from riding when she sold her first horse, she got back into it when she came to train at her uncle John Soles’ ranch where she has been ever since.
Massie runs her own business as well, called Buckskin Ali Horsemanship. She earned the nicknamebecause when she first competed in the Colt Starting Challenge, she drew a buckskin horse from the hat, and buckskin just happened to be her favourite colour.
“It’s just training horses, so it depends on the owner; what they want done, it depends on the horses age and how well their mind is, if they can handle a shorter period of time or a longer period of time,” she explained of her business. “Riding lessons, so I have kids anywhere from six-years-old or under all the way up to 16. Anybody that’s basically lacking confidence, because I’ve been there so it’s kind of scary. You have to put your hands in the faith of something with a mind of its own, doesn’t always work out well.”
Massie also has been running clinics on weekends for backcountry horsemen because of the wildfire-related closures including a “cowboy up” obstacle challenge. The extreme levels of smoke have not hindered her in her training efforts and she said she rides, “rain, shine, cloudy weather, hurricane — who cares? Gotta ride the horse, get it done!”
Looking forward, Massie plans to continue on this upwards trajectory, training horses, competing and developing her business.
“My plan for the future is just to be able to keep doing this but eventually have my own place and my own arena and do the same thing still.”
The horses are auctioned off after the competition.