Jackson, MS - When Jordan Kiker and her mare Twist would show up at barrel racing events no one wanted them there. The mare was reckless, dangerous, and what many considered to be a liability and risk to their safety.
Kiker was even offered money not to run the mare, and she was about to throw in the towel and find a new barrel horse. Then a friend made a suggestion that would drastically change things for Kiker and Twist.
"I had lost a lot of confidence in her, and I was just about to get a young horse to start instead," 22-year-old Kiker said. "There was a friend of ours that had sent a horse to Ray Ainsworth and said, 'You should just give him a shot.'"
So with no ideas left on what to do to stop Twist's dangerous behavior, Kiker turned to renowned horseman Ray Ainsworth. Known as "The Man Horses Talk To™," Ainsworth does not train horses; he teaches them in a way that makes him one of the world's most unique horsemen.
Ainsworth first began working solely with Twist, before soon working with both Kiker and Twist to help develop what would become an unbelievable partnership.
"I went down there and worked with Ray and worked with Twist, and I loved it. It was great. He taught me so much about life," Kiker said. "There were days he made me cry and that I hated him, but it made me a better person in general. I understand horses better now. I went to Ray's farm about two or three times a week."
Kiker continued, "During that time, I went to Arkansas for a barrel run. All these people there were saying things like 'I can't believe you brought her back. We do not want this horse here.'
A guy offered my dad another $200 just to not bring her. My dad said, 'I don't want your money. Back off.'"
What happened next for Kiker and Twist was priceless. Not only did they surprise the skeptics who did not think that the dangerous Twist that they knew could ever change, Kiker and Twist beat everyone by more than two seconds and set a new arena record - all with no bridle, just a halter and lead rope.
"I was on the horse that everybody hated and that everybody said was going to cause somebody to get hurt. We probably would have if it hadn't been for Ray. It was wild!" Kiker said. "People realized that we had both grown up and changed. It's unbelievable the change in Twist and the change in me. Ray changed my whole perspective on riding, and my horse and I are both happy."
Now, in between balancing classes as a chemical engineering major at the University of Mississippi, Kiker teaches riding lessons when she can to pass along the knowledge and approach to horses that Ainsworth instilled in her.
Through those lessons, Twist is right there with Kiker, teaching even the youngest students how to ride.
"I have a 13-year-old girl, Taylor, leasing Twist and running her right now. She's run in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi," Kiker said. "Taylor said that Twist is really minding her and acting like a sweetheart. Back home, I have little five year olds crying because Twist is leased out and won't be back in my barn for a year!"
Kiker concluded, "I owe everything to Ray. It's amazing how different Twist is and how different of a rider I am because of him. When people are like I don't know what to do, I immediately say send them to Ray. It's worth any money, and it's worth any time. You'll come out a different person."
Ainsworth travels the world presenting entertaining and informative clinics to horse lovers of all disciplines. Plus, he has a series of comprehensive teaching DVDs. Ainsworth has started as many as 10,000 horses. His stress-free program teaches horses how to behave with a maximum of understanding. He works with all types, breeds of horses - young foals, old mares, abused horses, trailer-shy horses, horses who will not allow their feet and ears to be handled and every horse in between.
Ainsworth's specialty is starting horses the right way and helping address behavioral concerns. Along the way, owners and riders learn horse language themselves and are able to apply this knowledge to their own dealings with these amazing animals.
Find out more about Ray Ainsworth at www.rayainsworth.com.