2021 Heart of the Horse Judges

New to the panel this year is Mel Hyland.⁣⁣

Mel is a celebrated rodeo athlete, with four Canadian Saddle Bronc titles, one Canadian Bareback title, one amateur Saddle Bronc title, and two Worlds Championship Saddle Bronc titles. He was inducted into five different halls of fame in the USA and Canada, and has been celebrated with many prestigious awards such as the Canadian Cowboy of the Year award. ⁣⁣⁣

After leaving the world of professional rodeo, Mel focused on horsemanship. He studied with some of the greats like Ray Hunt and Dennis Reis. He has been a much sought after colt starter, clinician, advisor and private teacher. His philosophies are that the horse is never wrong, and that the horse knows when you know and he knows when you don’t know. He stresses the importance of feel, timing and balance, and helps students focus more on themselves which has a direct effect on the horses behaviours and performance. Mel has been involved in three different colt starting challenges, and was the winner of one.⁣⁣⁣

On a personal level, Mel is a family man and a musician. He and his wife Marjie have a large family and enjoy spending time with them and playing music together. Mel has written and recorded many songs over his lifetime, and in recent years he put out a remix of his favourites with Marjie and three of their children, produced by Allan Christy. ⁣⁣⁣


It is Mel’s desire to share with others what he has learned over a lifetime in the world of horses. ⁣⁣⁣


Mel Hyland - Heart of the Horse judge

Say hello to our second 2021 Heart of the Horse Judge, Jerri Duce! ⁣⁣


Jerri has trained horses for many different disciplines and is an extremely versatile cowgirl that has many achievements to her name. Jerri is a nine times Canadian Champion barrel racer and the first Canadian barrel racer to qualify for the NFR. She is the first Canadian Finals Rodeo Miss Rodeo Canada, as well as the first woman inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, as a barrel racer & trick rider.

Jerri was inducted into Alberta’s Sports Hall of Fame (first female rodeo athlete.) She’s trick rode across Canada, the USA, Scotland, England, Bermuda & Japan. This talented athlete also performed at the World’s Montreal Expo in 1967 and the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. In 2017, Duce was inducted into the Calgary Stampede’s Hall of Fame. She was the 2018 Calgary Stampede Flores LaDue recipient and is presently competing in rodeo, working in the film industry as a wrangler & performing occasional stunts. ⁣⁣


Duce is an inspiration to many and we are honoured to have her a part of the team.⁣⁣


Jerri Duce - Heart of the Horse judge

Please say hello to our 3rd Heart of the Horse colt starting judge... Jim Kelts!⁣

Born on a ranch in Consort, Alberta, Jim has spent his life making a living on the back of a horse. At an early age, he’d take on ponies and colts to break. ⁣

At sixteen, Jim tried his hand at bronc riding thus starting a rodeo career that resulted in fourteen consecutive trips to the Canadian Finals Rodeo, five appearances at the National Finals Rodeo, and one Canadian Saddle Bronc Riding Championship title, which honored him with an induction into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2009.⁣

When Jim wasn’t in the rodeo arena, he’d always have a handful of colts at home, to train for clients. Upon finishing his bronc riding career, Jim turned his attention to working and selling horses of his own, while picking up rodeos at all levels of competition.

Jim rides pastures and private ranches throughout the summer, doctoring and treating cattle where his colts are exposed to all aspects of ranch work. There are few days this man is not “in the saddle” – loving his (cowboy) way of life. A humble man of few words, he is extremely honored to have been selected as one of the judges for the “Heart of the Horse” competition.⁣


Jim Kelts - Heart of the Horse judge