When you think of horses in England, it’s generally the sport of kings (thoroughbred racing) or the aristocracy in their red jackets hunting foxes on horseback over the rolling green hillsides that comes to mind. But did you know, there is a small but growing interest in reined cow horses over there?
Last month we featured a story about the sport gaining a foothold on the European continent. While it’s not quite as established in the UK as it is across the English Channel, there are those with high hopes looking to host regular shows.
Guy Robertson from Goole, in Northeast England has spent a lot of time traveling the world playing polocrosse. While in the U.S., he was introduced to colt starting and the California bridle horse tradition following Buck Brannaman and Martin Black. Then he found the reined cow horse world and slowly began to pick up the techniques. He has also participated in Richard Winter’s clinics in England.
He owns and operates Guy Robertson Horsemanship where he starts colts for a range of disciplines like thoroughbred racing, dressage, jumping and trail horses. He also does a lot of teaching and has started bringing cattle into his program.
He has 40 cows at his place during the spring and summer and brings riders in to learn the basics of working cattle. Some riders move onto boxing, sorting, team penning and cutting.
“It started off as a horsemanship exercise but people are really keen to do more of it and learn how to get their horses operating a bit better around cattle…It’s become quite popular and we do a lot of these cattle clinics now,” Robertson said.
He gets a lot of cows from dairy farms that are crossed with Angus. He said they aren’t quite set up to do cow horse shows in England yet but he hopes it will continue to grow.
“We’re starting to get to the point where more people are getting exposed to working their horses around cattle. And getting more people, especially from the reining and western horse events, to cross over to work their horses on cattle,” he said.
Robertson said a friend of his has a great facility where he hopes to one day host shows like ranch riding and boxing and eventually reined cow horse events.
“The purpose of my horsemanship clinics is getting as many people as we can to experience what it feels like to ride horses around cattle. And how connected the horses can get to that task and how that can feel to them.”
He received a lot of positive feedback from students about how good their horse feels.
“I’ve never done anything on a horse and felt that if I climbed off, the horse would still be doing it, apart from working cows,” said Robertson.
With such little cow horse infrastructure around him and so few trainers, RCHTO is a valuable resource helping Robertson to develop his skills where he can pass on his growing knowledge to help those keen to learn from him.
“[There] are a lot of online training programs but having lots of different trainers is ideal because you’re not just getting one version of something,” he said.