Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Cow horseman competitions are growing in popularity, largely because crowds are fascinated by watching a horse and rider work a cow in patterns and maneuvers.
Saskatchewan has one of the best in the business in Dale Clearwater of Hanley. At a competition in Stephenville, Texas this February, Clearwater earned top honours and over $17,000 for his efforts.
Clearwater was raised on a farm near Nipawin. At the age of 16, he began a career riding in pastures for eight years. Because pasture work is seasonal, during the winter he went to Alberta to work for horse trainers. In 2002, he spent a year working with a cow horse trainer before returning to Saskatchewan in 2004 to venture out on his own.
Clearwater has traveled North America with cow horse competitions. He entered his first show in 2001. Since then, he has earned approximately $100,000 from both cow horse and cutting competitions.
Critical to the success of cow horse showmen is a solid understanding of animals. Clearwater gained much of his knowledge from working in pastures. "I think being a good showman involves being able to do the cowboying end of things and working with animals all day," he said. "It makes you a better showman, because you understand how the cattle and horses think."
Saskatchewan riders will soon have an opportunity to learn from Clearwater's expertise. The Sandhills Stable near Saskatoon is hosting a Working Cow Clinic on March 29 and 30, with a repeat clinic on April 26 and 27.
These workshops will help participants prepare for cow horse shows and competitions. Rein work components include lead changes, stops and turnarounds. In addition, attendees will practice working cows down the fence and circling.
Bonnie DeWitt of Sandhills Stable expects participants to represent a mix of people, with some simply wanting an introduction to the sport, while more experienced competitors will be looking for tips and skill development.
Demand for cow horse training is increasing. The clinics Clearwater has held over the past two years have all sold out. While the March offering is already full, DeWitt says there are still a few spots open at the April workshop if prospective participants hurry.
Upon starting a clinic, it takes Clearwater very little time to earn the respect of any doubters, given the amazing ease with which he is able to move cattle.
"When you put a good run together, nothing feels as good as that," Clearwater said. At the competition in Texas, everything went perfectly for him, "but it can go the other way, too. You're humbled and you go home and work harder," he noted.
For now, Clearwater will enjoy his success, and enjoy teaching his skills to others interested in the practice.
For more information, contact:
Dale Clearwater, Clinician
Phone: (306) 544-2421
Bonnie DeWitt, Operator
Phone: (306) 477-3508
Sunday, April 6
A dedicated team player, he developed some of Canada’s most productive travel trade partnerships, worked as a business communicator in tourism, agricultural and health-related sectors, leveraging insight gained through an award-winning broadcast journalism career. In 2004, he was admitted to the degree of Master of Arts in Archaeology and Heritage with Distinction at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.