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August 11, 2008 | | Comments 0

Top 5 Horsemen in America

Written by: Matthew Brendal

It is a tough call to pick the top 5 horsemen in America today. America has produced and continues to produce so many great horsemen. Many times people are considered great because of their accomplishments such as amount of wins or volume of consistent performance in competition. To me a great horseman doesn’t have to be someone who wins millions of dollars or tons of belt buckles. I think great horseman must be horse advocates and teachers both to humans and horses. As you read from my list of top 5 horsemen they are predominantly familiar faces of people who train people to train horses. These horsemen are the Pied Pipers of telling the horse interested masses how to treat horses properly.

Number one on my list has to be Pat Parelli. He is the originator of the phrase “Natural Horsemanship” and made it a horseman’s horsehold word. He is a tireless advocate of the horse. He and his wife Linda designed the Parelli Natural Horsemanship system into something that all people, despite their entry level knowledge into horsemanship could understand. He makes being around a horse something fun and interesting. He was the first horseman to franchise his system around the world. He did this in an effort to make the horse’s life better. He is will probably always be head and withers above all horsemen just because of the number of lives both horse and human he has touched.

Second on my list is Chris Cox. He was born in America and raised in Australia after moving there as a small child. He was on horseback many hours a day, everyday while living on that cattle ranch. He came back to America with a few dollars to his name and horses on his mind. That’s what I like best about Chris Cox; he is America’s Journeyman Horseman. This horseman communicates like a poet of economy, simple and to the point, so that he is clearly understood by the horse and the human. He is an eloquently smooth master with a horse. Chris also preaches that all horsemen must have respect for the horse. Twice he has won the Road to The Horse competition. This is a competition in which a green unbroken horse is started and must do certain tasks in a very small time frame. If you want a great teacher of how to be a good horseman, I can think of no better.

I have selected Stacy Westfall for the number three spot on my list. She is my only horsewoman on this list of horsemen. Stacy Westfall got her horse when she was 13 years old. She spent a lot of time riding her horse bareback. For the first three years she rode seven miles back and forth to work each day. That shows me how much she enjoyed that horse. She never lost an appetite for learning about the horse. She attended the University of Findlay to learn more about the horse. She found mentors to help her along, but she did the stuff many people shy away from, the hard work to make it all happen. She is the only woman to ever win the Road to the Horse colt starting competition. Another thing that puts her high on my list is her famous ride on You Tube. That video helped spread the word about what a horse can accomplish. She is the Annie Oakley of the horse world.

My number four spot is filled by a humble master horseman named Dennis Reis. He is and was the driving force to have the National Day of The Horse. “National Day of the Horse” was designed to encourage the people to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history and character of the United States. But Dennis Reis has made many more contributions to the horse world. He crafted his “No Dust Tour” to show people that less is more when training a horse. His keen insight to the little things that have a big effect on horses have added to better understanding the communication between the human and the horse. His success using smooth and calm horse training techniques prove that old ways of breaking horses is obsolete.

Last on this short list, but certainly not least is Craig Cameron. No one can bring out more of the love and enthusiasm of training a horse than Craig Cameron. He is always so very positive and excited that it is contagious. Craig Cameron brought Extreme Cowboy Race to television, which was interesting watch. More importantly it helped people learn how to handle and train horses in situations that they may encounter in normal riding on the trail. Craig Cameron is a great teacher and example for horse people. And by golly he’s just fun to be around. Ain’t that half of why we want to be around horses? If it ain’t fun to do, what’s the fun in that?

Fundamental Horsemanship is TLC = Trust, Leadership & Communication.

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