Introduction to cows
I found a local place who does team penning and ranch sorting. I've been working with Raina to get her ready for the arena, and I want to start introducing her to some cows pretty soon.
I need advice on the best way to do this. I can always feel her out and go with what she will tolerate, but ideas and guidence are always a plus. I'm curious as to how other members have started their horses on cattle.
Do you have any specific concerns?
My horses are on a ranch, so once they've got the basics down, I just start walking through the cow herd. Then I might trail a few cows, and eventually I'll work up to more intense stuff. Today I had to open gates to feed cows, so I rode my horse out, called the cows in, and they followed us to the fresh hay.
I also do cattle sorting, and I'm going to be starting a couple young horses in sorting this spring. I think once they turn quickly and stop well, and move off leg cues, they're ready to go.
In general, I find it's best to work calmly and a little slowy with sorting. This is great for young horses. People in our club have rode green horses in sorting, and it's worked very well.
Have you worked cattle before? A big part of sorting and penning is learning to read cattle. Both you and your horse will likely start to pick this up with practice.
My horse is very good on leg cues, stops quickly and pivots very well. I put a lot of training on this through last summer and this winter to get her ready for the pen.
She's never seen a cow before and I would have to trailer to practices, and I have never worked cattle before so this will be new to both of us. I was planning on taking her to the first practice and just feeling her out. She doesn't spazz much at something she's unsure of, she'd rather fight about it before she realizes theres not much to worry about. I'm hoping she'll take right to it but I don't expect too much from her right now.
Maybe the first couple times I should just take her to watch and learn the environment. Other than trail riding, she's never been off the property (aside from being sold to someone who didn't work out).
I would just arrive early, warm her up well, and see if you can walk her through and around the cattle (it will depend on the sorting club's set up). As long as the cattle move away from her, she'll probably lose any fear of them.
I don't know what your sorting club is like in terms of competitiveness, but you might want to ask them to put you on a team that's less competitive. Usually at our club they pair up the new or young riders with more experienced people who are patient. I would imagine they'll do the same at yours, but you might want to ask.
Sounds good :)
I'm not sure what they are like either. They are holding practices now and I intend to tell them I have no idea what I'm doing. That way I'm not put with someone who expects a lot and I could tag along with someone who has a bit more patience.
There's another thread on here with similar (but better, and more detailed) advice on introducing horses to cattle. My horses have always been kept near cattle, so they're not afraid of them.
Actually, some horses are so eager to work cattle when they first see them, I have to hold them back a little. That might happen to you, too. You never know. The trick there is to keep them from running right into the cattle, without totally discouraging them.
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