I did something incredibly awesome today...
Today, for the very first time ever, me and my English trained Arab mare... moved cows.
I know. Revolutionary right? ;D But it was so cool. There were twelve cows, and me and my cousin and our two ponies had to move them out of their six acres and through a small forest. Then she rode off ahead to check gates and me and my pony (ALL BY OURSELVES THIS PART) drove the cows down the road and into their new pasture.
All by us few selves! My pride in my pony knows no bounds right now, as neither of us had ever done anything like it before, and my cousin was fairly new to it all as well.
We will be doing alot more cow moving in the future as we now live on a 70acre block with about 20 cows and approx. that amount of sheep also. (living in NZ, the grazing is VERY productive so what might seem like overstocking somewhere else is pretty usual here.) So I was wondering if I could get a few tips about moving cows from all you experienced cutters and things?
Our main problem today seemed to be the cows didn't care much about me or Shakira. Every 100m or so they would feel the need to graze or stop to converse with other cows or sheep. I would then stop also and we'd stand there for a few moments with me hollering things and them looking blank. What is a more effect way of getting them to move on? Also, if I had Shakira trot after them they would get a little worried and start to moo. Should that bother me? Does it mean anything in particular?
Thanks for reading, any advice would be helpful. Now excuse me, I'm off outside to tell my mare how absolutely awesome she is.
Trotting after them won't hurt anything, you just don't want to lope at them unless you are trying to cut them off or turn them.
You will need to carry a whip, or rope with you for the times when they stop, after a couple of hits or pops, they will start moving off your arm flapping/whistling/etc.
If you don't have one of the above, you can move to the shoulder(at a close to perpindicula anlge), do not allow your horse to get within a foot and a half of the cows hip(could get cow kicked). Then you can either push your horse into the cows shoulder, or kick the should with your leg. After doing this a time or two, they will learn to start moving as you move toward them.
Your horse will start looking forward to "working" the cows, most really take to it well.
Working cows horseback is one of life's pleasures! Enjoy!!
^ I have a bit of a different take. We don't wave or holler at our cows. It's all the horse. If they don't move when we first start the herd off in a new direction, we move in really close. And if that doesn't work, we circle around and lope at them. That normally gets them moving. I wouldn't suggest the loping method if you aren't used to cattle though. I've never worried about my horse getting kicked either, but we run angus cattle that are more of the flight than fight type.
One thing I learned is that you want the herd to walk calmly. No running stampede or anything. That's the ultimate goal.
I think part of the problem was that Shakira wasn't actually trying to move them. It was all me. She was sort of vaguely interested but it wasn't a big deal. If I could get a running commentary from her it would probably go something like this...
Dumdedum, riding riding riding... ohh, cows. Blah. Cows. Hmmm, cows moving. Cows stop. Shakira stop. Ohh. IRide is yelling. Is she yelling at me? Noooo.... Ooh, cows walking. Why are there cows? Odd life.
Maybe if I could get her to understand somehow that SHE was actually moving the cows we might get some more proactiveness and the cows would not be so blasť. Actually everyone was pretty blasť.
IRide, alternately marvelling at the awesomeness and screaming at the cows..
Oh well, I obviously don't actually know anything about moving stock. I'll try both your ideas next time the cows need moving. Over time, I hope we get pretty good at this!
Brenda, your last statement is why we don't lope the horses at them...we want them to walk, not run off. They seem to move along at a better pace when being whistled at.
Also, we mostly have corrientes and longhorns or a cross between the two -- and they are pretty ornery and will kick and even charge us....keeps us on our toes.
The type of cows we have don't have horns, are curious, placid, lazy but did attempt to kick my cousins pony when he nipped one (my cousins pony IS proactive...)
Of course, we only lope at our own cattle. We know them well enough, since we only have about 70 head, to be able to apply the correct amount of pressure. We don't get vocal, because you see enough people at sorting shows hooping and hollering like a bunch of monkeys, and it seems to only make things harder for them. All the cows can hear them yelling, so they all get pumped up, not just the one they are targeting. We go in quiet and use our horses to work them. Now, well placed whistling I can understand.
I'm not sure if an interest in cows is built up over time, or bred. I think certain horses learn to go through the work, but good cow horses will be aggressive towards a cow, like ear pinning. I've seen a few Arabs with some cow sense, but granted they are far and few between. I think the fact she was so calm is a great thing. Plenty horses are terrified of cows. Don't want anywhere near them. Those are the ones that are fun to train when their owners want them to sort or cut.
A kick at a nip is pretty understandable. :)
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