- Associated Press - Friday, October 14, 2016

LYONS, Kan. (AP) - Farold Russett grew up around horses. His family always had horses, and as a child he had a Shetland pony that he would ride, accompanying his father at the feed yard.

He rode for fun - even qualifying for nationals in high school rodeo - but he also rode as a form of physical therapy for cerebral palsy, a central nervous system disorder that makes coordination difficult. Because of his lifelong work with horses, he knew he wanted to be involved in the horse industry somehow, The Hutchinson News reported (http://bit.ly/2d3MYB7 ).

Russett found his niche doing “ground work” - that is, work with Russett standing on the ground, rather than riding the horse - preparing colts to accept a rider. Russett demonstrated and spoke about some of the techniques he uses Saturday at the Bar K Bar Bonanza Horse Fair in Lyons.

Russett was joined in the arena by a colt he has been working with. The colt, which Russett calls “Curious George” because of its temperament, was remarkably calm as Russett demonstrated a number of methods used to acclimate a colt, to carry a rider and do ranch work.

Whether stepping over obstacles, having a lasso twirled over its head or getting its foot caught in a rope, the colt was unfazed. The only time Curious George seemed anxious was when Russett’s father, Fay, loudly waved a big plastic flag near the horse.

Russett started his career with horses in 2005, doing ground work with colts for others. In 2006 he struck out on his own, starting Russett Quarter Horses. The Kinsley-based business works in training and sales, according to his business card. He said seeing the development of a horse is a fun part of the job.

“I like to watch where they start to the finished product,” he said.

He said it is difficult to pin down how long it takes to prepare a colt to be ridden, because it varies so much from one to the next.

“I watch the horse and he’ll tell me what I need to do,” he said.

The three keys to getting a colt ready are to make it gentle and get it to respect and trust the trainer and rider.

Curious George, whom he has worked with off-and-on for eight or nine months, is close to being ready for a rider. The horse appeared very friendly, getting a close look at visitors and their cameras while Russett spoke with people after the demonstration.

“He’s a people horse,” Russett said.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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