Leslie Lange lives and breathes Quarter Horses. The 2015 AQHA Most Valuable Professional started in the ranching community, and then moved into the rodeo and horse show worlds.
“I grew up on a working cattle ranch in Woody Creek, Colorado, which is up by Aspen,” Lange recalls. “My dad was a third generation rancher up there, so I grew up riding.”
Horses were always in her blood. Lange is one of seven children with a horse trainer for a father. While her father was into roping and ranching, her sisters were into hunter jumpers. Because she was the youngest, Lange was involved in it all, but had a certain fondness for the horse shows.
“I didn’t really love the rodeo events,” says Lange. “I was more into the horse shows. I liked the fancy clothes and cool saddles, so I kind of drifted in that direction.”
Lange’s first step into the showing world came when her parents bought a horse from the National Western Stock Show sale.
Lange explains, “My parents bought me a gelding that came from a family in Kansas that was an all around youth horse at the America Royal. His name was ‘Going Joe.’ He was my first fancy show horse.”
That’s how it all started for this horsewoman. Lange’s mother started hauling her to circuit shows on the Western slopes of Colorado where she was the “ribbon girl” as well as a fierce youth competitor. Though she continued her horse showing career into her college years, she had made no distinctive plan towards becoming a professional horse trainer.
“I started helping some kids as a senior in college,” Lange explains, “I did get offered to go get my master’s at Colorado State University. I thought well I’m going to train horses for a while until I get tired of doing it.”
The day never did come. Lange traded in her youth status to become an open rider. Soon after, her and her husband established their training business-- T&L Quarter Horses, LLC out of Greeley, Colorado.
Lange explains, “We specialize in the all around events, youth, amateurs, trail, western riding, showmanship, horsemanship, and equitation. We do some of the rail classes like hunt seat and pleasure. I’ve been showing horses in the ranch riding, so we are going to start branching into that a touch more as well.”
For as talented of a horse trainer Lange is, her personal satisfaction comes from the success of her clients.
“Every client has a different goal and I get great satisfaction out of them achieving them; whether it be a world title, a congress title, or staying mounted,” says Lange. “Helping people enjoy the process and reach their goal, I would say, is the most gratifying.”
It’s not just horse training that keeps Lange busy these days.
Lange explains, “Outside of the horse show industry, my husband and I bought a PRCA rodeo company about ten years ago, (Flying Diamond Rodeo Company). It’s based in the Northwest. Now we travel to rodeos on the weekends and we like to go watch our livestock buck.”
Lange, along with her husband Tom and managing partner Mike Corey, have enjoyed a lot of success under the title “stock contractor.”
“We’ve been fortunate enough that every year out of the last ten years we’ve owned it, we’ve had animals that have been invited to the National Finals Rodeo,” Lange goes on to say, “I think we’ve won six go round buckles out of the ten years that we’ve been there, so it’s been a hoot.”
One more title the Lange holds is the 2015 AQHA Most Valuable Professional. This title shares the shelf with the 2003 Professional Horsewoman of the Year award.
“The Professional Horsewoman of the Year is more about your showing and horsemanship skills, truly in the arena,” says Lange. “Being the Most Valuable Professional is more broadening the parameters.”
Lange explains that this award is given to professionals that go above and beyond to help the association and its affiliates succeed, truly the future of AQHA.
“I’ve been involved with AQHA and its business,” says Lange, “I’ve helped conduct workshops for the continued education of their judge’s program and served on several task forces.”
Who would think a woman with so many accomplishments would still have goals to attain.
Lange explains, “I’ve never won the world in hunter under saddle. I’ve been second four, five, maybe six times. I would love to have an opportunity to have a horse that could be a world champion in the under saddle.”
And what about the Ranch Riding, Lange’s newest showing endeavor?
“I’ve been fortunate in the short time that I’ve been doing it,” Lange says, “I’ve won the Congress and I’ve won the NSBA world. My short term goal in that is to make the finals at the Open World Show.”
Lange was first introduced to Kimes Ranch Jeans at the Silver Dollar Circuit five years ago.
“(The owners) Matt and Amanda had a small booth there and had people coming up to try their jeans. I tried their jeans on and just loved them.” Lange goes on to say, “I was on team Wrangler with AQHA that year. I declined to participate in team Wrangler the next year and have been a Kimes Ranch fan ever since.”
Lange currently wears the Betty jeans and is the Alex jean’s newest fan.
“They are just really comfortable, durable,” Lange explains. “They last and I just think they are a good product. They fit well. I just like the fit, the durability and the look of them.”
Photo credits: Leslie Lange
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August 4, 2016