Steve is the owner of Sunny Banks Ranch. He grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, part of a large family, and spent many of his summers in Becket, Massachusetts at his grandparents' farm. (The two hundred acre property has been in his family since 1906.) When he was a young boy, he became fascinated with horses. Although he was living in a big city, he always dreamed about being a cowboy and was determined to see his dreams come true. Steve had, at the age of 16, started building his dream at his family's property in Becket; he hand built a barn, cleared some land for an arena, and cleared trails for riding. As an eager teen, he practiced his rodeo skills and began competing in steer wrestling and roping. He won his first rodeo by his 18th birthday, and that bug bit him hard! In Ct., he married and he and his wife began to raise a family. He became a firefighter for the New Haven Fire Department. He spent several years competing on the rodeo circuit, throughout his career as a fireman, when time would allow. For two years in a row, 1986 and 1987, Steve won the championship titles in calf roping and steer wrestling in the national competition, the Black World Championship Rodeo. After helping raise his family in New Haven, and divorcing, and then retiring from an illustrious, twenty year career as a New Haven firefighter (and being inducted into the Firefighter's Hall of Fame), Steve and his youngest son, Kyle, moved to Becket full time where Steve concentrated his energy on helping to raise Kyle, and making Sunny Banks Ranch the place he dreamed of as a child. Steve could see that the youth in Becket were fascinated with his ranch, as they pressed themselves against its fences, watching and smiling as he practiced his roping and riding. He decided that he should share his gift with these children, and others interested in western style riding. Steve created and began hosting the Northeast Youth Rodeo Association (for children between the ages of 8-18) at his ranch, and made the ranch available to the public.
What makes Steve a true cowboy is his understanding of how to communicate with horses and his drive to make horses respond with the least amount of pressure from the riders. It's not unusual to see him warming his horse up at a roping or rodeo, with his horse wearing a rope halter. He possesses a natural feel and timing which makes him such a great horseman. The unfortunate truth is; many people lack the knowledge to really communicate with their horses (regardless of the discipline they are riding) and that's where Steve steps in to help. With his unique teaching techniques, he helps riders learn how to connect with their horses. Whether working with groups at the clinics he offers, or with individuals, he emphasizes the need for riders to learn to give the correct commands to the horses, and to pay attention to the horses' responses to the commands given. Steve insists that problems with a horse's responses are (usually) the fault of the rider. "Change the way a rider cues the horse, and the horse's response will change. I've made all my good horses; anyone can buy a made horse and be successful for a while but if a rider doesn't possess the knowledge to address issues as they arise (and consistently give the right cues), then the rider and horse will have a lack of success. A good horse can be ruined with improper handling. The rider needs to be able identify his/her own riding issues, and his/her horse's issues, and to correct them. I like giving people the opportunity to develop better riding techniques, and to identify and address the problem areas." says Steve.
Steve divides his time between roping, training riders and horses, giving a variety of clinics, putting on events such as "Extreme Cowboy" style races, cattle sorting, directing the Northeast Youth Rodeo Association group at his ranch. Steve recently retired from a position being the director of an equine program for teenage boys ( who cannot thrive in a traditional educational setting due to their behavioral issues) at a private, therapeutic, residential school, where he had won many awards for his excellence in motivating these students through his work with horses. Many of the students who struggled, otherwise, opened up and found the animals a cathartic method of relating to the world. He also has the distinct honor as being a judge at many northeast horsemanship competitions. Steve also does motivational speaking to a variety of audiences.
*Professional Cowboy *Massachusetts Licensed Instructor * Professional Horse Trainer * Professional Horse Show/Competition Judge