Horseman’s Calling is a natural horsemanship competition taking place on 5-6 April. It is loosely based on the US competition Road to the Horse and brings together different horsemanship techniques. Here we chat to event organiser Stephanie Oliver about what spectators can expect. What is the thinking behind the event? Having been involved with natural horse practitioners in the States, we were very familiar with the US events Road to the Horse and Way of the Horse and decided it was time to bring this kind of competition to the UK. The element of competition is fun but the event is really about educating a large audience about natural horsemanship techniques and their benefits.
Explain the event’s format The event is run over a weekend with three teams of two competing against each other to load two non loading horses and start two young horses under saddle. The teams will be judged by a panel of equestrian experts on their methods and not necessarily on how far their horses have progressed. At the end of the two days there will be a set test to ride.
The action will be commentated on by well known horseman Richard Maxwell and judged by a panel of industry experts from different fields of equestrianism. The judging will be on the competitors’ methods and how their horses respond, not on the end result. Trainers will be marked down if their horses look stressed or over faced at any point.
Who are the main players at this year's event? The three teams will be headed up by Grant Bazin, Guy Robertson and Jason Webb, all established horsemen working in the UK with a range of methods influenced by Monty Roberts, Pat Parelli, Craig Cameron, Clinton Anderson and more.
What can spectators expect? It will be a really exciting event. Three teams, 12 horses and two days of non stop action. As well as the main competition arena, there is a shopping village and demo area, which will feature some outstanding displays of horsemanship including liberty work, free riding and educational seminars on horse health.
What future plans do you have for Horseman's Calling? The event is actually part of a European circuit and it will be held in Germany at the end of next year. We have plans to make this an annual fixture in the UK, introducing new trainers and horsemanship methods, and are already planning the 2015 event.
What two things would you like to see change about horsemanship in the UK? First the way many horses are trained. I would like to see more mainstream trainers looking to incorporate natural methods into their programmes. Secondly I would like to change the remaining stigma that surrounds natural horsemanship techniques. I would like to see them embraced by mainstream equestrianism as practical, effective and ethical alternatives to traditional methods.
Grant Bazin and Dan Wilson Our first competitive team to be announced is Grant Bazin and Dan Wilson from Practical Horsemanship. This duo worked and travelled the world with Monty Roberts for 10 years learning his methods and riding his demo horses. They now both have very successful yards based in Cornwall and Northamptonshire where they take in problem horses and young starters. www.practicalhorsemanship.co.uk
Guy Robertson and TBA Guy has travelled extensively and has trained and started horses all over the world, including Australia, USA and New Zealand. His methods have been strongly influenced by studying some of the world’s great trainers including Martin Black, Pat Parelli, Craig Cameron, Clinton Anderson, Buck Brannaman, Bill and Tom Dorrance, and Ray Hunt. He has a very successful, established yard in Rawcliffe Bridge, East Yorkshire, where he takes in horses. He also runs clinics and demonstrations all over Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire. www.guyrobertsonhorsemanship.co.uk
Jason Webb and Tom Mitchell After a very successful Polocrosse career, Jason found himself sought after for starting young horses using the methods passed down through his family in Australia. He is in demand for demonstrations and has performed at prestigious national and regional events including Your Horse Live in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He also contributes to national magazines Your Horse and Horse & Rider, is an ‘Ask the Expert’ for Horse & Country TV and a blogger for Horse and Hound.
Tom works alongside Jason with most of the horses that come through the centre. Growing up with the Pony Club and competing in all disciplines, he went on to work for the Suffolk Hunt and top eventing yards, where he bought on young horses and competed in affiliated events. He also retains very close links with the racing industry with his family involved in Newmarket life. www.australianhorsetraining.co.uk