Horse Training and Death Jumping

Photo of Ortega-Corral completing the Jump of Death during a competition. Photo provided by Juan Ortega-Corral.
Photo of Ortega-Corral completing the Jump of Death during a competition. Photo provided by Juan Ortega-Corral.

Senior Juan Ortega-Corral is well known in the world of horse training and rodeos throughout Loudoun County and across the country. As a student, he spends his A-days at school completing his required courses so that he may graduate in January. As a professional trainer and rider, he spends the majority of his time outside of school training horses, teaching children how to ride horses, and riding bulls. 

I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I love it, it’s a passion.”

— Juan Ortega-Corral

Ortega-Corral’s daily routine consists of waking up at 5am, then feeding his horses, checking on the cattle, and training the horses. On A-days, he proceeds to come to school for the rest of the day until it is time to go home. After school, he continues to train and work with the horses for the rest of the day. On B-days, Ortega-Corral spends all day with the animals, training and working with them. He remarked that he spends “at least 40 hours a week” working.

Ortega-Corral has had many accomplishments when it comes to working with horses. He was the champion in Virginia’s Jump of Death competition. This competition involves jumping from one horse to another while the horse is running full speed, with the victor winning by having the fewest faults in execution. He also took first place in both Georgia and North Carolina. In this competition, Ortega-Corral competes in multiple bull riding competitions a year, sometimes several in a month. He says he would rate the danger of it an eight out of ten because, “riding a bull and an untrained horse you can get bucked off.” He himself has felt these dangers, fracturing his own skull. He also has gotten stepped on by a bull in both the cheek and elbow. 

Photo of Juan Ortega-Corral riding a bull. Photo provided by Juan Ortega-Corral.

“Family. It runs in the family. Dad was a professional bull rider in Mexico and my uncle is a race horse trainer,” explains Ortega-Corral, considering what made him want to train horses and ride in rodeos. He explains further that his father helps coach him and that, ”wherever I compete, he is always competing behind me.” When talking about his father’s influence, he notes how smart his father is and how, ”there’s time when I am getting ready to go compete and he’s right there when I get ready to nod my head and come out to shows. He is there making sure I am on my A-game and safe.” 

Ortega-Corral trains horses to be around humans and works with them on ground manners. Ground manners include working with a lead, letting their entire body be touched, allowing their hooves to be handled, and waiting patiently. Ortega-Corral has had many accomplishments when it comes to working with horses. For those who have watched the show “Yellowstone,” they have seen some of Ortega-Corral’s horse training in action, as he has trained two horses for the show. He states that he will train a horse for anybody and that he treats all the horses he trains equally and one is not more important than another. Ortega-Corral remarks that the best part of working with all these animals is, “making sure the animal is safe with you and making friends with the animal. I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I love it, it’s a passion.” 

Photo of Ortega-Corral riding his horse through competition. Photo provided by Juan Ortega-Corral.

Ortega-Corral’s goals for the next few years after high school include buying more land to grow his ranch, Las Rositas Ranch, breeding more horses, and growing his cattle herd. In the future Ortega-Corral wants to continue to train horses as a professional horse trainer and also be in the business side of the industry. Ortega-Corral spends a lot of time traveling for rodeos throughout the year, but says this does not negatively affect his social life because he meets many different people while traveling. He meets other trainers, Mexican artists, and business people who work within the horse industry. He says he keeps in touch with many of the people he meets after the competitions. 

Through hard work, determination, and a little necessary grit, Ortega-Corral has won multiple championships. His passion for animals and training skills will continue to fuel his career after graduation. 

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