The world’s best cowboy is Bernard Fonck, aged 45, from Herentals in Antwerp province in Flanders. Official. At least, official according to the results of the World Equestrian Games which took place last weekend in Tryon in North Carolina in the USA. “I’m so happy to have beaten all those Americans,” he commented later.
Fonck and his trusty steed What a Wave are not greenhorns, however. “I’ve had special horses before, but What a Wave is my best ever,” he said, giving credit where credit is due. “Every time he gives his all, and he keeps getting better and better.”
“What we do is a lot more than playing cowboys,” he said. “This training is best described as a Western form of dressage. As a rider, who have to put your horse though a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops. And the stops are spectacular and difficult. The horse in fact does everything with his forefeet, while the back feet remain still, slipping through the sand until the horse comes to a standstill.”
And while his speciality may seem particularly American, in fact Fonck travels the world. Living for the past eight years on a breeding farm in Italy, though recently returned to live home on the range in Herentals with his wife Ann, who also happens to be a rider.
“I do this for my country,” he said. “And fortunately that’s appreciated. We’re no longer unknown Belgians in the US. We hope to be able to pick up important prizes in the future,” he said.