“The truth is that I can’t remember my first time on a horse. Old photos in family albums and scrapbooks show me perched on a horse before I was 18 months old; I was riding before I was walking. Being around horses has been as natural to me as breathing for as long as I can remember. The feel of horses, their presence and my relationship with them has defined my life. Horses have always been, and remain, in large part responsible for the man I am today.” – Ride the Journey, 2008
Born to a ranching family in Kissimmee, Florida, Chris’s earliest memories involved horses and his family’s life of ranching and cattle. At the age of two, his family purchased and moved to the Prince of Wales Island, a 100 square mile island off the coast of Australia. Their only transportations on the island were either the horses or the Massey Ferguson tractor.
Chris was home schooled until the second grade. He and his brothers then traveled to public school on Thursday Island. To get to the other island, they would ride their horses to the beach in the mornings, leave them in the corral for the day, take the boat to the island, come back and ride the horses back home.
As a kid, Chris competed in many different clubs and competitions. He was a member of the Pony Club and competed in camp drafting, or otherwise known as the working cow horse event. It was then, he realized, his father thought of horses in a different way than he did.
"I was already discovering that I could become partners with the horse."
At ten years old, Chris attended a clinic held by the man who had refined horsemanship in Australia, named Lee Reborse. Reborse had plenty of skills that Chris wanted to develop as a horseman; he was a great teacher and an even better communicator with horses.
About the time he met Lee, Chris and his family moved from the island to the mainland. There, Chris worked on various ranches over the summers and during school breaks. He had even begun breaking and training many young horses. After he was bucked off a few times, he started to develop a fear. He decided then to replace that fear with knowledge, so he wouldn’t lose his passion for the horse.
“I made it a point to learn to read their responses, to try to anticipate what they might do before they did it. The more I rode, the more I learned. The process was addictive.”
After high school graduation, he attended Longreach Agricultural College in Queensland. There he met Ken May, another Reborse student. Ken also positively impacted Chris. He went on to help Ken with colt starting and horsemanship clinics, throughout college and beyond.
When Chris turned 18 years old, he had saved up enough money to buy a plane ticket back to the United States. The day after landing in Florida, close to where he was born, Chris was horseback helping to gather 5,000 head of cattle.
After a short while in the U.S., he traveled to Tennessee to see some of his mother’s relatives. Their neighbors dared Chris to ride their three year old Tennessee walking horse for $300. The mare was known to buck the rider and the saddle off. Within the hour, Chris was riding her.
“That was my first ‘clinic’ in the United States.”
Chris began to start and train horses professionally. In Madisonville, Texas, he began working out of a facility starting colts, training cutting horses, performing demonstrations and hosting clinics. He had also rented facilities in Geneva, Alabama and the panhandle of Florida.
Florida was his big debut to being a well known horseman. He had started a mustang at a clinic and word soon got out and to the Bureau of Land Management. They contacted Chris and wanted to watch him work. The BLM hired Chris to travel to adoption sites in different states to demonstrate how to start a mustang. He released his first instructional video in 1990, “Breaking into the Horse’s Mind".
In 1995, he bought a ranch in Ocala, Florida. Despite his new ranch, he had always felt a deep connection with Texas, because of his father having worked for the King Ranch, an ancestor fighting in the Texas Revolution, wanting to be in the middle of serious horse country and not too far from the “Cutting Horse Capital of the World”, Weatherford, Texas.
As soon as he heard that land was for sale in Texas right where he wanted it, he jumped on the opportunity. He was going to be able to build his facility from the ground up the way he wanted to in Mineral Wells, TX.
With his Chris Cox Horsemanship television show on RFD TV, the nationwide Ride the Journey Tour stops and appearances at equine expos and events, Chris has touched the lives of many a horse enthusiast and shown them there is a straight-forward, practical way to gain a better relationship with their horses.
Chris offers progressive six-day horsemanship clinics several times a year. Chris also offers nationwide three-day clinics to make it even easier for those throughout the country to get first-hand instruction directly from him.
Today, Chris is a three time undefeated world champion of Road to the Horse, reserve champion of the Perry Dilorreto Invitational team roping, colt starting champion of Equine Experience, recipient of the Monty Roberts "Equitarian of the Year" award, competitor and breeder in the National Cutting Horse Association, reined cow horse and team roping competitor. He lives on the Diamond Double C Ranch in Mineral Wells with his wife Barbara and their children Charley and Case.
His program has proved to be immensely popular with people of all ages and skill levels. It requires no gimmicks or special equipment, but rather commitments to understanding the horse, devoting time, self-examination and honesty about one's own limitations.