Kade Mills was 22 years old when he ventured down to Gainesville, Texas to train at Carol Rose Quarter Horses. A lifetime of riding, and mentoring from his father Doug, had clinched horses as a career for Kade.
Not long after, he began working at Top Notch Performance Horses in Stony Plain, and has been Alberta bound since then.
“I was hooked on the amount of rodeos and working cow horse shows there are out here,” Kade says. The sheer number of competitions has allowed Kade to gain more experience in the show ring, and he has since opened up his own training program out of Tindastoll Stables in Innisfail, Alta.
As if to further cement the success that his father’s “Training Thru Trust” program has demonstrated, Kade competed — and won — two Trainer’s Challenges in 2011.
“My first Mane Event was in Red Deer and I talked on the phone with my Dad every night as we hashed out a plan for the horse I had drawn.” That victory was soon followed by another at the Chilliwack Mane Event.
“I also competed at the H3 Trainer’s Challenge in Manitoba and the Saskatchewan Horse Expo, which were great experiences. This year I was lucky enough to win the Canadian Training Championships, held in Innisfail.”
The best part of the competitions for Kade, however, is how it has improved both his horsemanship and teaching skills.
“From every competition there is an opportunity to learn, and then pass that knowledge on. One of the most pivotal learning moments for me was at my first trainer’s challenge — I had to learn not to rush the training process. How ironic to learn that while you are competing against the clock! However these timed events absolutely taught me to slow down, and take my time.”
Rushing the training process is something that Kade sees all the time at his clinics.
“The most common training problem I see is not enough foundation on a horse — meaning that there were important steps that were missed along the way. If your horse doesn’t understand pressure then you will have problems. It is important to focus on the basics in the beginning.”
Kade is planning on competing in the working cow horse circuit next year on his client’s futurity horses and trying to fit in some time with his family.
“As horse trainers we love our job,” explains Kade. “My family had our first non-horse related vacation a couple years in Mexico — but to be honest, we even visited horses down there!”