tips on being a turn back/herd helper?
Both my horse and I are new to cutting but we've been asked to be a reserved herd helper/turn back in a show (we'll be called in if there is not enough experienced helpers)
Any tips/ tricks/ thoughts on being a good turn back or helper?
Thanks heaps in advance!! :D
I'm not an expert, but have been cutting for a few years now, so this is just from my experience:
You will either be a corner helper (in one of the back corners by the herd) or doing turnback up in front of the herd. If you are a corner helper, once the cutter goes into the herd and brings some cows out, your job is to get the rest of the cows that they are not using pushed back to the wall. Try and do this as quickly as possible without getting in the way of the cutter. You're also responsible for making sure the herd stays against the wall in the center of the pen. If they get too off centered, you and the corner helper on the other side will need to push them over until they are centered again.
If you are doing turn back, make sure you aren't putting too much pressure on the cows so that the cutter cannot get a good work in. You want to put enough pressure so that the cow is moving around, but not so much that it gets too panicked and flees. You will have to judge the cows individually, as some are slower paced and can take more pressure without getting too squirly, but others need a much larger "bubble". Try to keep the cow between you and the cutter, without letting it run past you towards the other end of the arena.
I will add any more I think of, hopefully some more experienced turn back riders can add something!
I cannot imagine a cutter using an inexperienced herd holder. A turn-back rider is less critical than having a good herd holder. The herd holder is usually the one that help keep track of where the cows are that the cutter wants. This rider also has to help the cutter NOT get a cow that has been worked. The herd holder can step up and keep a cutter from losing a cow or getting charged with a 'back-fence' or can increase the cutter's chance of either of these penalties. It is a huge responsibility and makes or breaks the performance.
The judgement call to step forward or step back can make or break any work or score. Have you been riding turn-back during practice sessions? If not, you need to ask the trainer if you can practice with him or her. You need to set up a set of signals. Some cutters nod their head when they want a helper to step up and move the cow. Most turn-back riders will also step aside and let a crazy cow run out into the warm-up area behind the judges before it runs over the cutter. You sure need to work with a cutter before you go out there at a show and get blamed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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