I have to teach my mare to cut for a versatility class. Where do I start? She has no experience with cows whatsoever.
I'm going to work with a trainer, but I'd like to start on the very basic beginning stuff beforehand.
Any help would be greatly appreciated : ]
Do you have a mechanical cow/flag? Your horse should know the basics of getting on his hocks and have an idea of how to roll back before you get on the flag. If you don't have one, you can always use an athletic friend...just have them run back and forth on your command. After you have the idea down with the flag, (I'm assuming your trainer knows how the cutting basics like distance, shoulder position to cow and how to teach your horse the on ond off switch and to teach you to hunker) start trailing cows. Then maybe start turning back for others and work from there.
Cutting is super addictive - watch out! Is this a ranch versitility class?
Is there anything simple I can do with the cow/flag/person before I start working with my trainer?
It's just plain versatility - we're not doing the ranch one. It includes Western pleasure, English pleasure, showmanship, Western horsemanship, trail, reining, Western riding, cutting, hunter o/f, hunter hack, pleasure driving, barrel racing, stake racing, and pole bending. I'm not going to do all of them, but I want to do as many as I can.
When I would practice cutting id have a friend get in the arena and act as a cow, I know it sounds odd but its the same concept, jsut have them go slow and teach your horse that she needs to follow your friend. This will work until you get a mechanical cow or even a calf to work on. Does she do nice rollbacks?
Well, here's a video that shows you a litte about working the flag. You can have your buddy just play "cow" for you before you get on the actual mechanical com.
Notice his position, too. It's very different from anything you have been taught before but necssary! A lot more foot in the stirrup, too.
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Barrel racer - Yeah, she has a really nice rollback.
I do campdrafting which has a cutting componenet - However i'm not sure how similar they are in technique and scoring so feel free to disregard this advice if it doesn't sound right!
One of the biggest things used in the camp (Where we cut) is the bend through your horses body. When we are teaching a horse to cut, it starts with dry work without ever seeing cows. Basically, we want to be able to move the horses body to the right, with the head looking left, so the whole body is bent with the ribs.shoulder leading the horse to the right. Vice versa to the left.
Why? It is the begginings of teaching the horse to watch the cow no matter what the body is doing - they need to keep the head foccussed on the cow to be able to read what they will do next. If they get used to the head leading them in turns, it is much harder to change that around to the head focussing on the cow.
It also sets the body up correctly for the turn. The weight is on the inside feet to make it easier for them to dig in and turn. The head is already in the new direction of travel. The bend/flex shoudl change each time the horse changes direction with the cow - When learning, you won't be turning almost on the spot liek you see finished cutters doing - You will be walking with the cow, then moving up to block, then turning it, then doing it the other way.
So basically you want to teach your horse the basics of that excercise without the cow. Walking to the right, with the bend in the body as if you were watching a cow, then push up a bit, sit up, rollback over the haunches, change the bend, and off you go to the left. Once you ahve really snappy turns, an easy change fo bend and easy maintaining of the bend, then you are about ready to add in some quiet cows.
Thanks wild_spot! That helps a lot : ]
I would absolutely say FIRST thing your horse needs is to stop straight and square. No leaning, no gawking, stop straight, hind end underneath her.
Next, understand that when doing rollbacks in cutting, it isn't a simple rollback. When facing left, your horse should pivot on her back LEFT foot. The outside rear. This will set up her body for the next movement and put her in the correct lead, as opposed to having to transfer weight to the left after the turn, it saves a few extra steps, and helps you better keep up with a calf.
Getting these down first is more important than putting a horse on a calf or dummy.
Make sure that you get the bend mentioned above, as you need to be able to steer your horse with her ribs instead of her shoulder. So if you're coming along at the calf going right, don't use your right foot to push her closer to the calf, use your inside, or left foot, to bend her ribs around the calf instead, as it will encourage her front end to move toward the calf. Driving with the ribs is imperative because it encourages them to lift the inside shoulder and move closer to the calf, but with a cutting movement, more of a jump around to face or turn the calf as opposed to crossing over in front and peddling around. If you would like, I'll scroll through some videos on youtube to find what i'm talking about. If I can't find one, I'll make you one tomorrow at the barn.
edit: a good way to practice the bend and know if you've got it is to walk forward, with your horse in a banana-shape. If you were looking at her from above, she is in the form of a banana, and when walking "forward" she will in essence be coming diagonally across the way.
Thanks for the help!
Is that what you mean about steering her with her ribs? (around 3:45)
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