"Cowy"? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-16-2011, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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I've ridden English my whole life, but recently found myself accepting a job at a dude ranch in Colorado . I've gotten into the swing of things, but can't help being a newbie at Western terminology. I've heard mention of "cowy" horses and I know it relates to their instinct with herding/sorting cows, but I was curious how horses get this trait or if it can be trained into them? I'm actually enjoying myself so much out here, that I'm tempted to trade in my English saddle for a ranch saddle and live out the rest of my horse days behind a horn.
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-24-2011, 03:35 PM
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Just like with other characteristics, it goes back to the bloodlines. I recently purchased my first "cow" horse. He is double cutting bred on both sides.

Working at a dude ranch sounds like a lot of fun and a great experience!
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-24-2011, 03:45 PM
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Howdy, Lanci, and welcome to the forum .

Most of a horse's cow savvy comes from their bloodlines and is about as natural to them as breathing. A non-cow bred horse can be taught to be a little bit cowy, but no matter how well trained they are, they will never have the natural feel for the cow like a horse bred for it.

Perfect example is my Mustang Dobe. He has zero natural cow savvy, but has been taught to work cattle and does a decent job of cutting. He's not great because he doesn't have the speed or agility really needed to be great, but he tries his heart out and wants to get it right. It took about a year of hard work to get him to this point and he will never be one that I can drop my hand on and just let him work. I always need to give him a pointer here and there.

He will never be able to compare to my brother's cutting bred horse. Snuffy is from good cutting lines on both sire's and dam's side and he was cutting cattle by the time he had 3 rides on him. In less than 60 days, brother could drop his hand and Snuffy would work a cow until you told him to stop.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-24-2011, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Alrighty, thanks! That makes a lot more sense.

I had the chance to ride a cutting horse yesterday. It was incredible to say the least.
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-21-2011, 02:14 PM
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My thing is dressage. . . Last week my little QH and I sorted our first "cows"--this mare has cutting lines from her sire, and who knows about the dam (old ranch stock)-- but I was simply amazed that she just went in and followed whoever I pointed her at (while I kept an eye on all the pointed horns ) and thought nothing of heading them off if they got too close to the other pen's opening. I THINK she might be a natural; we just have to try it again to find out!

I think it's WAY more fun than watching -- who would think it's fun to follow a steer only a little smaller than your pony? -- however, I will never EVER get used to that dang saddle.
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post #6 of 6 Old 10-16-2011, 11:50 PM
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hi lanci,and welcome.i have to disagree some on the term cowy going back to the bloodlines.i am a long time professional trainer of cutting and sorting horses,and some bred to work cows did not want anything to do with a cow.please dont get me wrong,it helps alot if one is bred for it.but the term cowy means that the horse catches on to working cattle pretty fast and easy,and the horse enjoys making good moves and dont mind getting up close to a cow.
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