The BRCA allows folks in the UK to participate on a proper rodeo day. I don't mean bucking horse riding and the like, but events involving precision riding horses and working with cows. I have heard of no other events in the UK that allow cow work as I believed the RSPCA were against it. I enquired and apparently the RSPCA had audited their activities and could not see any problems.
Anyway, we drove around the M25 and finally made our way to the Bar S Ranch. We were glad we had rang and asked for directions. As we drove past a white bungalow I remembered a white bungalow being mentioned in the directions. Sure enough as I looked closer I saw horse boxes parked behind the bungalow. This was the Bar S Ranch. I wondered what we had come to see !
On entering the ranch we found a nice arena at the back and horses already being ridden. Nervously we approached the riders and asked what was happening. They could not have been more welcoming. Everyone was already on horseback, and apart from lunch stayed there all day. The horses were all very chilled in a cramped area alongside the arena standing patiently whilst the riders chattered away and watched proceedings.
It was a competition, but to be honest the only person who seemed to take it at all seriously was Lesley, the judge. Everyone else was just have a good time whilst trying to improve there ranching skills.
The first event we saw was Ranch Trail. Basically and obstacle course including dragging logs, backing around a pattern, sideways over cones etc. During this we mingled and got to know the folks there and display our ignorance. They were keen to educate us and we soon began to understand what the day was all about.
Over lunch I got talking to Stewart who owns the farm. He was an older guy who started working cattle as he got fed up with having to ask friends to help him move cows around his farm. From that he developed an interest in vaquero and so we had a long chat about the style. He then showed me into his tack room which was full of bosals, spade and half breed bits etc. In the meantime I heard Lesley getting annoyed outside. It turned out that Stewart was supposed to be sorting out the pens in the arena for the cattle classes. To avoid him getting into more trouble Ritchie and I helped with the fence panels.
The cattle classes were the most fun and interesting to watch. The team sorting was particularly fascinating. There are two pens joined by an open gate. All the cows are in one pen and have numbers on their backs. The judge calls out a number and the team of two have to cut that cow out of the herd and get it into the other pen. Should the wrong cow get into the other pen then their time is up. They have 2 1/2 minutes and I think the best was 10 cows. The ones who did best were the quiet calm ones who just did the business with the minimum of fuss.
I won't describe all the classes here as they can all be found on the BRCA
website. We have now joined the association and look forward to attending more events over the coming months and years. They also do clinics for those who have never rode like this before and we definitely need to go to some of those !!