Back to the Beginning

The seventh annual A Legacy of Legends gathering to honor Ray Hunt’s colt-starting techniques is March 3-5 in Fort Worth, Texas.

A Legacy of Legends

Jaton Lord, Reata Brannaman and Nathan Greiner will be among 30 other participants starting colts at the 2017 Gathering. (Bridle Horse Photography photo)

“Ray just loved his colt-starting classes. He believed it was the most important thing you could do for the horse and that how you went about it determined the rest of that horse’s life,” said Carolyn Hunt, who along with Buck Brannaman co-founded A Legacy of Legends. Together they produce the annual gathering that celebrates the legacy of Ray Hunt and his mentor, Tom Dorrance.

The 2017 Gathering is March 3-5 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas. This year’s event features an invitational colt starting that will run all three days. Carolyn is quick to point out this won’t be a competition, and that it will not have any time constraints. Each invitee will draw one horse to work with throughout the three days and will move at whatever pace fits their particular horse.

“What Ray could get done with a bunch of colts was amazing. By not forcing anything on them, he could keep them in a good frame of mind that allowed them to willingly accept new experiences. Ray used to say if he could expose a colt to one new thing in a relaxed way, then he could expose him to something else, and then something else. There wasn’t any time limit, but he could get a lot done in the span of a clinic by just allowing the horse his dignity,” said Carolyn.

Many now practice this approach, passed from Tom Dorrance to Ray Hunt and from Ray Hunt to the world. Some Hunt-trained horsemen are famous and some are virtually unknown, but all are trying to carry on the legacy of compassion and understanding handed down from two of the greatest horsemen to ever live.

Early in 2016, Carolyn and Brannaman sat down and made a list of names of horsemen they wanted to invite to the event. There were many they knew personally, but there were just as many they didn’t know who were recommended by other highly respected horsemen who had worked directly with Ray or Tom. More than 30 horsemen were invited to Fort Worth and demonstrate their interpretation of what Tom and Ray taught.

Bill Smith, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion saddle bronc rider and his brother, rodeo champion and coach Rick Smith, will be the masters of ceremony. As highly respected horsemen and early followers of both Dorrance and Hunt, they have plenty of knowledge and recollections to share with the audience.

Proceeds from the event help support the Legacy of Legends Scholarship Program, which pairs students with mentors who studied with either of the two legends.

“It’s so rewarding to see Ray and Tom’s teachings being passed along and shared the way they intended, and this year, with how we’re doing the colt starting, it’s going to be especially meaningful and exciting,” Carolyn said.

Visit for a complete list of participants, tickets, hotel packages and other information.