Billy Cook Says Champions Are Made, Not Born

Long-time saddle maker and horse breeder, Billy Cook, recently said in an interview with AQHA Journal editor, Larri Jo Starkey, that Champion horses are made, not born. According to Billy Cook, the right kind of trainer can make a Champion from nearly anything. We understood him to mean any horse with sound genetics and athletic ability. Billy Cook should know what he’s talking about. At 92 years of age, and his entire life in the horse and saddle business, he has plenty of real life experience to back up his opinions.

Champion trail horses, those bomb-proof, unflappable steeds that will take you anywhere, any time are made, not born. Sure it takes the right personality, genetics, and disposition to be one, but the horse is made from the years of experiences and “wet blankets” that educate the horse. People are always looking for the fast food approach to horses. How can we push years of accumulated experience into 30 -60 days? You can’t. If there was a horse-trainer that could, you wouldn’t find him giving clinics and writing books. He would mass produce horses to sell.

If you want a sound trail horse to ride and even use to help others in search and rescue emergencies or crisis situations. If you want a horse that doesn’t blow up when the other horses start to act up, you have to develop the horse and train it. There is no fast approach and frankly, the more you try to rush the training, the less progress you will make. With horses, fast is slow, and slow is fast. You teach a horse to accept things slowly over time and learn to enjoy new adventures. If you hurry the process, you just end up creating what you didn’t want; a spooky, jumpy horse ready to bolt or buck at the first new thing he sees. Someone has to put in the time, the training, and the patience required and they have to do it in a way to inspire confidence. The horse is a natural follower, a herd animal, that will go any place you want if he has been taught to trust and respect his rider.

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