Alternative "jobs" for cutting horses?
I have a 7 year old cutting horse gelding who I have been showing for the past two years...We mostly stick to local club shows with a few local NCHA shows only because it's all I can afford to do! He is good enough to go to the bigger shows, but that is not realistic for me right now. (We are with a trainer year-round though, and practice on the flag or cows 3 days a week). Anyways, I am at a point in my life where I'm considering not showing in cutting after this season is over. My life will be getting a little more crazy and time consuming, and cutting is a very expensive and time consuming hobby.
I am very attached to my cutting horse, and I really don't NEED to sell him if I quit showing. He is an awesome horse - I love his mellow disposition, his sweet personality, and not to mention he's the funnest horse to ride. So, I have heard that basically the only other activity you can do with a cutting horse without "ruining" them for cutting is trail ride.
IF I do decide to take a break from showing, I am wondering if any of you other cutters out there know really what I can do with him to keep him active (without ruining him for cutting in case we ever decide to go back, or I end up needing to sell him). I am taking him to a competitive trail clinic this month, just for fun, and as a way to desensitize him a little bit. I would like to do more stuff like this in the future, and will take him trail riding a little bit, but nothing too extreme. Any other ideas? I don't really want to start showing in any other discipline or anything, just ideas of what I can do with him, so I can continue to ride him and expand our skills!
Try sorting, it's just a step away from cutting and because its still a newish sport it isn't expensive to get into..
Some of the best barrel and pole horses ive seen have had cutting work in their background. This may be something to consider.
Sorting is a good one.
You could also try "Cow Catch".
Trails are always great to go on.
Have you consider leasing him to a capable, experienced rider?
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What's "cow catch"?
I would absolutely NOT use a good finished cutter for sorting, team penning, roping, or anything that involves "chasing" or pushing cattle.
Only a very small amount of horses in the right hands can comprehend the difference between cutting and the other cattle sports. While cutting they need to hold a line. It is difficult for them to do that if they get a taste for charging.
You can do just about anything else with them. Trail riding is excellent, open show classes, or even breed shows. Just don't expect to win at western pleasure in a big show. Mounted shooting is kind of fun too.
I would also evaluate the reasons for working a finished horse on the flag or cattle 3x a week, especially if you're going to a weekend show too. If he doesn't need the practice or training, and you're just working cattle for fun or to practice your riding, then you could be contributing to overuse of his joints or souring his attitude to working. It's easy to make them incredibly show smart and other issues when they get practiced on too much. It really depends on the horse and what they need though. I'm glad to hear you're working with a trainer, and I hope he is good at understanding the needs of his non-pro/am clients.
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CCH - I totally agree. That is why I brought this question up, because I know sorting, penning, etc are out of the question if I ever want to sell him or use him again as a finished cutter. Couldn't really think of what else I could do to keep him "busy" without showing in something else. I'm not a huge fan of competition, and would rather do something that I can have more fun with, without the pressure and nerves of a show setting.
On a funny note - he has a lazy lope like a western pleasure horse, I bet we could actually be pretty competitive ;) haha
The reason we work the flag/cows so much is more for my practice than his, I have only been cutting for a couple years, and still have things to work on. Although I would consider him "finished", he could benefit from the extra training as well. Although he has had quite a bit of training, he was hardly shown at all before I bought him, so it has taken a little bit of correction to help him be "show ready." We are not working really hard during the week, 2 days a week I lope him for a while then work the flag for just a few minutes. Saturdays we get to work cows, so that is our main practice day. He gets more time off during the winter as well :)
Oh, and we'll see how the competitive trail clinic goes this weekend, might be looking into doing more of those kinds of events! Excited to see how my horse does.
sorting isnt bad for a finished cutter as long as you just stay in the gap and cut the cows off
For relaxation for both of you - you should try horse soccer! My filly loves it - she is not a finished cutter - she is started on cows but VERY cowy... she loves to play horse soccer - she is dominating the ball, just like a cow..
I know we look like a bunch of people that they don't know what they are doing - it was the very first soccer event.. when you get them real good and focusing on the ball, it's a great workout for both horse and rider.. and it's FUN! You are still pushing something around :)
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