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The British Rodeo Cowboys Association was the brainchild of Stuart and Lesley Powell. Horses were in the blood for both of them: he, as well as being an accomplished show jumper and having the privilege of being trained in the art of High School Dressage by the legendary Henry Wynmalen, Stuart was also a trick rider and trained horses for film and television, and she managing a large English show yard, was taught dressage by an ex army Major and competed on his horses.  For some time, Lesley rode other peoples horses in Cross Country Events. Before they met, Stuart developed his interest in Western Riding when running his 50 acre farm on his own, upon being given a copy of the “Western Horseman” magazine with an article on the “Cutting Horse”, he soon realised that a Cutting Horse was needed to help work the cattle, so he went about training one. Lesley was introduced to the Western way of riding by a Canadian Horseman who liveried his Quarter Horse with her and gave her lessons in the art of Western Horsemanship.

That was all many years ago and in the meantime Stuart and Lesley had toured the country, attending clinics with American trainers, competing in western shows, and demonstrating their skills as accomplished trick riders and ropers. In amongst all this horseback action Stuart and Lesley realised that there were a lot of other western riders who shared their passion for the versatile horse and, in 1978 the Bar –S– Rodeo was born. This became a highly popular twice yearly multi disciplinary event, and the high point in many western riding competitors’ calendars.

As a result of all this activity, they realised that there was a need for an association catering for the All – Around western horse. There were then (and still are) a number of associations in England that promote particular skills in western riding but there was a need for an association which would not only promote western riding competition in all its forms, but also provide a framework for training instructors and judges, and in 1996 they established the British Rodeo Cowboys Association.

It started with a group of thirty likeminded riders. The association now provides training not only in western riding but also the care and maintenance of the horse. Stuart and Lesley designed a syllabus which will train novices and examine them all the way through to becoming successful instructors and competition judges.

No mention of the BRCA would be complete without referring to the Bar–S Ranch, a name that is almost synonymous with the BRCA. The Bar–S is Stuart and Lesley’s home, their operational base and place of resort for anyone hankering to hear more about western riding in all its forms, be it simply riding out or the intricacies of a cattle cutting competition. Stuart keeps a herd of beef cattle which is frequently pressed into service for the training of the Bar–S stock horses and used at the many shows promoted by the BRCA in the course of the competition year.

So it is today that the BRCA is the only organisation in Great Britain that caters for all western riding disciplines. Other organizations set out to specialise in one form of western riding competition or another but the BRCA is the only association where members are encouraged to try all aspects of the sport – from working with cattle through Reining and all the show classes to Barrel Racing and other mounted games. The BRCA was the first western riding association in Europe to promote a Working Ranch Horse event and this popular event is a regular feature in the BRCA’s annual schedule.

But competition is not the BRCA’s be-all and end-all. It also caters for those that simply enjoy the western way of riding, and organises regular trail rides at various locations. We also organise regular training sessions or “clinics” when you can improve your skills in any of the various western riding disciplines. Whether you are a competitor, western rider or simply a spectator, you will be welcome among friends in the BRCA.

Membership of the BRCA helps to promote Rodeo and Western Riding in Britain. Members receive a quarterly Newsletter which not only keeps them up to date with what is happening in the BRCA, but also includes articles on training and management of the western horse.

Events are organised or sanctioned by the BRCA throughout the year, catering for all types of western riding but to the uniformity of the BRCA Rulebook which guarantees competitors a standard and safe format for shows. In this way, our aim is to provide a level playing field for the enjoyment of our members.

Rules governing our shows are derived from those adopted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the American Quarter Horse Association, the National Reining Horse Association, the National Cutting Horse Association and the National Ranch Horse Association. We adapt these American rules to suit competition in Britain, and regularly review them to ensure that our shows are, as far as possible, in line with what is current in the USA.

Grading competitors is a system unique to the BRCA. It enables a novice horse/rider to enter the same competition as an expert, and have the opportunity to win against other competitors in the same grade. As with other associations, competitors accumulate points throughout the year – but only the BRCA awards end of season “High Points” trophies in grades appropriate to four levels of expertise.




 Copyright ©British Rodeo Cowboys Association 2012