Robert Cowan leads Admire Main at the Summerhill Stallion Day
(Photo : Leigh Willson / Summerhill Stud)
“Living and working with the Zulus
has been a life-changing experience…”
For many years, Summerhill has been host every breeding season to a clutch of students from abroad. A man who joined us in June on the personal recommendation of Darley CEO, Olly Tait, is Scotsman Robert Cowan, who left the 26° sunshine of Mooi River in the early hours at the end of last week for his motherland’s deepfreeze conditions. He penned this note on his visit :
“As I count down my final days at the largest and most productive stud farm I have been to yet, I would like to explain how much I have enjoyed being here, and how much it has changed my perspective on horsemanship and stud farm management.
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for putting up with me and I hope you have been able to get used to my Ayrshire accent. I have picked up a little bit of Zulu, which I’m sure will be useful when I return to Glasgow for Christmas. Living and working with the Zulus has been a life-changing experience; I especially enjoyed their kindness and patience when trying to communicate.
Secondly I would like to praise everyone for the hard work and effort you bring to the upkeep and daily running of the farm; it really is something special and it really does show, so much so that it is talked about worldwide. I have seen the farm transform from the cold winter landscapes into beautiful green pastures, wonderful trees and wildlife; I don’t think there are more bird species anywhere else in the world.”
Robert H Cowan.
The thoroughbred breeding world, as widespread as it is, is a fairly intimate circuit when it comes to staff exchanges and work experiences. There is little doubt these programmes are “value-adders” in the lives of young people, and there are few industries that are as open to these opportunities for students. The one thing they will all tell you about South Africa, is that it’s one of the more pleasurable circuits they visit, but more importantly from a career perspective, youngsters coming from abroad tend to be exposed to greater responsibility and higher levels of people management than anywhere else. When they leave us, they should’ve shifted up a few gears, something which Robert’s letter attests to.