The Interview - with Al Dunning
TELL US ABOUT THE ALMOSTA RANCH AND WHY YOUR PROGRAM HAS BEEN SPECIAL FOR SO MANY YEARS?
In 1970, John Hoyt and I moved to the Almosta Ranch on McDonald Drive and the canal bank in Scottsdale. A developer bought the property, bought out my lease, and I was able to purchase property near 108th St and Shea Blvd in 1973. At that time, that property was about 12 miles from any store and the city grew out to us. In the mid-1990s another developer came in and bought that property which had grown to 25 acres. I bought 40 acres of property on Jomax west of Scottsdale Road, which I intended to move the Almosta Ranch to in the future. That property seemed too close to town so I was able to sell it and acquire a 30-acre property on 160th St south of Rio Verde Drive in 1996, which at that time was still 12 miles to the nearest store. We moved out in 1999. On the 30 acres, I have developed one of the premier training facilities for all western events.
I can’t count the number of great horses, riders and trainers that have flourished through my programs and have gone on to amazing successes. Besides that, I have continued to raise my family, which now includes two grandchildren.
After training horses for over 50 years, in 2015 I made the decision to trim the number of horses that I keep in training from 40+ to 15. With my clinics, being chairman of the Judges Committee of AQHA, showing and teaching, I am still amazingly active and work hard to continue achieving more.
What has made this place special is hard work and great people with wonderful horses that wanted to get to the top of their game. It has been unbelievably fun!
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I have recently listed the current Almosta Ranch for sale. After the sale, which is obviously an underdetermined period of time, Becky and I plan to rebuild on 10 acres in close proximity to our current location. For those of you that know me, I love working hard and helping people. Horses have been my life and will continue to be. I am looking forward to the NEW Almosta Ranch but in a smaller scale than what we have right now.
WILL YOU CONTINUE TO DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW?
I will continue to take outside horses, give clinics, run my AD Tack business, Dunning Consulting LLC, and my online training business, Team AD. Cutting has been my passion for the last several years but we also will train reiners and cowhorses, along with ranch riding horses, which is the new craze.
YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AN ARIZONA TRAINER. WHY?
I began my career in Arizona and plan to continue in the state that I have had so much success in. Even though I have developed prominent ranches in other states and developed horse programs for other horse enthusiasts, I have always felt I wanted to be known as a leader for the state of Arizona. My mentors Jim Paul, John Hoyt and Don Dodge not only assisted me in my career but made me realize the importance of a home base. Where other trainers have moved to Texas and other states, I will always remain here in Arizona. I always remember if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Being in the AZQHA Hall of Fame, AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year, Western Horseman Magazine Horseman of the Year, NCHA Zane Schulte Trainer of the Year and more accolades were all achieved by maintaining a prominence in Arizona. Arizona has never been a place for raising a lot of colts so I’ve had to make it happen. I always felt that I represented Arizona, not just myself. I have been on almost every Board of Directors of state and national organizations to represent Arizona, as well.
WHAT ELSE IS NEXT FOR YOU?
Besides being excited about the next Almosta Ranch, I don’t plan to change much. I love training horses and people and working on my ranch. I run a multi-faceted business that even includes writing for six equine publications. I have now published 5 books with Western Horseman Magazine. This summer I will travel to Austria and do two weeks of clinics, and have another clinic in Bozeman, MT.
I love what I do and plan to continue competing, coaching and mentoring.
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