Wade Black, first place winner at the 2021 Road to the Horse World Championship and professor of equine science, horsemanship and horse training at TVCC. (LILIANA FRANKEL/The Enterprise)

ONTARIO – Wade Black’s grandfather trained horses and started colts. So did his father. And so does he, having started in early childhood under their guidance.

It’s a legacy he’s passing on not only to his three children, but to generations of students at Treasure Valley Community College, where he teaches equine science, horsemanship and horse training. 

Nowhere did Black’s expertise shine more than at the recent Road to the Horse World Championship, where he took first place. The championship is a colt starting competition where competitors are judged for “the effectiveness of their horsemanship methodology to communicate, educate and build a partnership with their colt based on trust,” according to the event website. 

Black was eligible to enter the 2021 competition after winning the 2019 Wildcard competition. The 2020 competition was postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

Black said that he’d had a “tough horse” in the competition this year. 

“He really wanted to buck, he had some tight spots there,” Black said. “In the final round I was a little nervous how it was gonna go. A lot of the tests I had given him, he had kind of struggled a bit trying to find the right answers. Picture a little kid who’s going to fall apart. But in the end, he did awesome, he did really good.”

The experiences that built Black into the man and the cowboy he is today began 38 years ago on 1.25 million-acre ranch in Nevada, where his father was employed. That’s where Black learned the everyday art, science and work of ranch life. 

At age 10, Black moved to Homedale, Idaho, with his family. His father transitioned out of ranching to horse training, and Black worked with him throughout his adolescence. 

At the same time, he was becoming known at the state and even the national level on the rodeo circuit. 

Black studied at TVCC and then at Montana State University with a rodeo scholarship. It was there that he first discovered his knack for education and mentorship. 

“I really struggled in school, I wasn’t very good at it,” Black said. “But I enjoyed teaching.”

The university gave Black a colt-starting class to teach, and “It was that ‘Aha! moment,’” he said. 

Black’s theory of horse training centers on recognizing that a horse has a mind, a will and emotions. 

“What’s deeper than that soul is the identity of the horse,” Black said. “If a horse gets tight or scared, they’re going to seek the comfort of the herd. They eat grass – they’re going to seek the comfort of hay.”

For his master’s degree, Black got to delve deeper into what makes horses tick, and transfer his family’s decades of knowledge to an academic setting. 

“I tried to bring a scientific component to everything I saw my dad and grandpa do growing up,” he said.  

As an adult, Black and his wife Amaia now run a nonprofit, Training Quality Assurance, which marries their passion for horsemanship with their passions for their faith and family. That means taking a holistic approach to horse training, and making explicit connections between the process of training a horse and raising a child. 

“We work with people in positions of authority,” Black explained. “They can influence the kid’s identity. You’re either going train them positive or negative.”

Referencing his theory of horse training, Black said “How do my words affect someone else’s mind, will, and emotions, and ultimately their behavior? If I’m a parent I’d sure like to motivate my kids to do the right thing.” 

With his students at TVCC, Black takes the same rounded approach. He said that one of his biggest concerns was helping students complete the program, as many tend to pursue formal employment before completing their degrees. 

“We started a stock horse team,” Black said. “Those kids can transfer to four-year schools and possibly get scholarships to finish at four-year schools. Kids will stick around because of a team. And we’re trying to build scholarships to help kids stick around.”

A different type of challenge, Black said, was Covid, which decreased attendance. Recently, he had just six students in the program, which typically enrolls 30 in an incoming freshman class, and about half of them make it through the second year. 

“The ones that make it through the program, those are the kids that are actually gonna make it through the industry and be good employees,” Black said. 

Black said that his students included kids like him, who grew up ranching, but also others from across North America.

“To be honest, those are some of my best students,” he said. “Because they didn’t have the opportunity but they always had the desire, they work way harder.”ONTARIO – Wade Black’s grandfather trained horses and started colts. So did his father. And so does he, having started in early childhood under their guidance.

It’s a legacy he’s passing on not only to his three children, but to generations of students at Treasure Valley Community College, where he teaches equine science, horsemanship and horse training. 

Nowhere did Black’s expertise shine more than at the recent Road to the Horse World Championship, where he took first place. The championship is a colt starting competition where competitors are judged for “the effectiveness of their horsemanship methodology to communicate, educate and build a partnership with their colt based on trust,” according to the event website. 

Black was eligible to enter the 2021 competition after winning the 2019 Wildcard competition. The 2020 competition was postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

Black said that he’d had a “tough horse” in the competition this year. 

“He really wanted to buck, he had some tight spots there,” Black said. “In the final round I was a little nervous how it was gonna go. A lot of the tests I had given him, he had kind of struggled a bit trying to find the right answers. Picture a little kid who’s going to fall apart. But in the end, he did awesome, he did really good.”

The experiences that built Black into the man and the cowboy he is today began 38 years ago on 1.25 million-acre ranch in Nevada, where his father was employed. That’s where Black learned the everyday art, science and work of ranch life. 

At age 10, Black moved to Homedale, Idaho, with his family. His father transitioned out of ranching to horse training, and Black worked with him throughout his adolescence. 

At the same time, he was becoming known at the state and even the national level on the rodeo circuit. 

Black studied at TVCC and then at Montana State University with a rodeo scholarship. It was there that he first discovered his knack for education and mentorship. 

“I really struggled in school, I wasn’t very good at it,” Black said. “But I enjoyed teaching.”

The university gave Black a colt-starting class to teach, and “It was that ‘Aha! moment,’” he said. 

Black’s theory of horse training centers on recognizing that a horse has a mind, a will and emotions. 

“What’s deeper than that soul is the identity of the horse,” Black said. “If a horse gets tight or scared, they’re going to seek the comfort of the herd. They eat grass – they’re going to seek the comfort of hay.”

For his master’s degree, Black got to delve deeper into what makes horses tick, and transfer his family’s decades of knowledge to an academic setting. 

“I tried to bring a scientific component to everything I saw my dad and grandpa do growing up,” he said.  

As an adult, Black and his wife Amaia now run a nonprofit, Training Quality Assurance, which marries their passion for horsemanship with their passions for their faith and family. That means taking a holistic approach to horse training, and making explicit connections between the process of training a horse and raising a child. 

“We work with people in positions of authority,” Black explained. “They can influence the kid’s identity. You’re either going train them positive or negative.”

Referencing his theory of horse training, Black said “How do my words affect someone else’s mind, will, and emotions, and ultimately their behavior? If I’m a parent I’d sure like to motivate my kids to do the right thing.” 

With his students at TVCC, Black takes the same rounded approach. He said that one of his biggest concerns was helping students complete the program, as many tend to pursue formal employment before completing their degrees. 

“We started a stock horse team,” Black said. “Those kids can transfer to four-year schools and possibly get scholarships to finish at four-year schools. Kids will stick around because of a team. And we’re trying to build scholarships to help kids stick around.”

A different type of challenge, Black said, was Covid, which decreased attendance. Recently, he had just six students in the program, which typically enrolls 30 in an incoming freshman class, and about half of them make it through the second year. 

“The ones that make it through the program, those are the kids that are actually gonna make it through the industry and be good employees,” Black said. 

Black said that his students included kids like him, who grew up ranching, but also others from across North America.

“To be honest, those are some of my best students,” he said. “Because they didn’t have the opportunity but they always had the desire, they work way harder.”

News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577.

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