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Phillip Ralls has spent years in the arena. His home in Paso Robles, California, isn’t just where he and his wife Teresa raise their family, but where Ralls trains top performing horses for National Reined Cow Horse Association events. In the arena, he takes colts and transforms them into champion athletes.

From the start of his training regimen, Ralls instills discipline into each horse. His methods are simple: Start with the basics and then build into the cow work.

“I’m basically working on mechanics,” Ralls says. “I’m teaching them how to bend and stop and turn. I can teach them to stop and turn, backup, the basics then I start working cows on them.”

And key to his approach is Ralls’ understanding of the pedigree and the physical build of each horse he trains and competes with. Investing time and thought into each allows him to build the longevity of their potential partnership.

“The competition is getting so tough now,” he says. “You have 20 or 30 of the best riders going, and what usually separates them is horsepower. When you get done with those horses and you’ve taken that time and you’ve put that much thought and effort and time into it and care, those horses go on and last a lifetime.”

As an NRCHA member, Ralls competes under the strict discipline that pays homage to the California vaquero and trains his horses to comply to even the slightest touch of the reins. Most recently, Ralls showed Call Me Mitch, owned by Estelle Roitblat, at the 2017 NRCHA Open Two Rein Spectacular and rode off as champions.

“Most of the time you kind of make your own luck,” Ralls says. “And if you’re prepared and you have your horse ready and things are right, you sure eliminate a lot of the what ifs. When you pull out of there and you know that you’ve got three or four in the trailer that you have an opportunity on, that makes you confident.”

Watch the video above to see Ralls in action.