Teaching horse on cows
I'm sure there are some people around here who do it on daily basis. :-)
So my question is HOW you start it?
I took couple lessons to put my cow-bred qh to work cows. First time was not bad, actually - she was unsure in the beginning, but then did pretty decent for the 1st time. But next week (yesterday) I had a 2nd lesson, and OMG! She was like crazy. All she wanted was just to get any running cow, and when I didn't let her to fly or go forward she started annoyed bucking or popping. So I should make her to disengage (spell?) the hind to calm down all the time. The trainer said she's full of energy (even with 80+ degrees and like 80% of humidity and hour of work she wasn't sweaty except under the heavy pad and girth) and will be really good to work cows only after 1-2 hours of workout. Is that always true? I mean you have to work out the horse before doing the cow work...? :shock:
We do warm up the horse prior to working cattle. Lope, roll back, back, side pass, lope from stand still, lope from backup, turn on the hindquarters, etc.
What type of cattle work are you doing?
How much time do you spend to warm the horse up? I had lesson both times almost right away without much warming (except yesterday, when they let me do it for 5-10 mins, but I did no canter as I didn't feel she warmed up (and calmed down too) enough).
Well, I'm not sure what you mean by "type". :-) It's a team penning farm, and they have those smaller black cows, which I must say really fast in running.
We started by moving the cows from big field to the pen/ring. I just feel she was HORRIBLY overexcited from the very beginning (I know her very well, and generally she's more laid back horse unlike my paint, but it definitely was not a case). But she tried to run after them to the pen, and later was just trying to run like crazy. It just didn't feel safe to me (even though the owner of the place said it's OK).
Oh, I see what you mean by "type". I know they do team penning and sorting. Basically he made me keep them in one place, cut one move it and move it back. Frankly, I don't feel she's very ready for team penning as all these runs drives her crazy. I want to try sorting to see what is that.
We have team sorting tonight. We will walk or trot from the trailer to the pen and then W/T/L big circles, little circles in both directions to warm up. Sometimes it is only 10 minutes but if we get there early enough, it's up to 30 minutes.
Before our run, we'll lope a circle each direction to stretch
Sounds like he is having you cut the cow and then 'track' it. Basic skill to get your horse to focus on the task at hand.
I always pat my horse after a run to let him/her know they are done. I cutting you touch the withers as kind of an 'off' button.
When we work cattle at home, we do the other things I mentioned before we bring the cattle into the arena.
Thanks for sharing, mls. Yes, he tries to teach her to concentrate on cow and that perfectly makes sense. She's pretty good keeping them in place. It's just when it's time to run she's very handful. She's very young too though...
Is there anywhere nearby where you can go and just work her in a paddock with cows? The first introduction to cows any of my horses get is trail rides through paddocks containing cows. I ignore them and expect them to do the same.
The next step for me is tagging along when mustering. I let dad do the work on the bike, and I just criss-cross along the back of the mob, geeing up any stragglers. This can be done at a walk on a loose rein, and as you get more confident and your horse gets more relaxed, you can move it up to a trot then a canter. I also practice stops, rollbacks and haunch turns when doing this, keeps my horse’s attention on me and gives them practice performing these moves with cattle nearby. If my horse gets worked up, I drop it back to a walk and back off the cows a little until it settles.
Next thing I do is a bit more hands on mustering; still in an open paddock, but I do more of the work with the bike as a back up. The next step up is moving cows with just weaned calves in the yard, or taking bulls out of the paddock with the cows. Both of these have a bit more motivation to challenge you, so your horse can have its first experience of actually working a single cow, but it’s out in the open in an area where the horse is comfortable. Being in a yard is a much more high pressure situation. Having the bike as a backup is great because if your horse gets worked up they can step in while you settle your horse. It’s now that I start introducing keeping with the cow, (they will have already learnt to follow cows by following the mob) now they learn to focus on the cow and me at the same time. This incorporates stops, rollbacks and haunch turns to keep with the cow, and if needed getting up close and sometimes touching a shoulder to the cow to put a bit more pressure on them. The cows will be a bit more sluggish than bulls (only a bit!) so are a good starting point, but will give you a decent challenge trying to get back to their babies. The bulls are a good challenge for a horse who is getting the hang of working, as they are more aggressive in their movements and also tend to face up to you a bit more than the cows.
Now moving into yard work… I wouldn’t start trying to work cows straight away. I would practice picking out one cow, and moving into the mob at a nice relaxed walk and cutting it from the rest. It will get your horse used to moving through the cattle in a confined space but not put the pressure on it of having to then work in this confined space. Just let her get used to being this close to cows. Once she can calmly go into the mob, select your cow, and cut it from the rest, only then would I start working it by itself. I would start running the cow along the front side of the yard; pushing it across the yard, hanging back a little to let it run, then moving up and blocking it and sending it the other way. I send the cow across the yard and block and turn it maybe 3-4 times before letting it return to the mob and selecting another cow. It stops the cow getting tired or piggy/sticky, lets your horses have a break, and gives it more practice at moving calmly in with the cows cutting out your next cow.
wild_spot, thanks a lot! That's certainly VERY helpful. Unfortunately people around definitely won't let me work their milk cows. :-) But I'm thinking about getting to the "lesson" place next time and telling him that I want to ride just by myself slowly, without running much. I do think she was pushed little too much too fast, and we may need to back up a little.
BTW, do you do sorting as well? What is that and is it something slow enough to try?
I have never done sorting, not really sure on what is involved. I do general stockwork with my dad on the property and compete at campdrafting, which has a cutting component and then a course you have the work the cow around.
Ah fair enough, I don't live in a dairy area so it's all hamburger cows here :] plenty to work. I think you should be right if as you said you just back up a little. It takes them time to get used to having cows around their legs, and understanding what you want them to do. It will take at least a few sessions before she will start tracking the cow, or at least it usually does. At first they are just so curious as to what they are!
You could get in with a beef cattle when they get their cattle up to work them, I do think there are some beef cattle in Maryland. And if they will let you do what Wild_spot suggested.
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