The Horse Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

· Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,146 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a lifelong horse woman. And I've ranched for the last 30 years. I understand appreciating a horse who is talented in cutting a cow from the rest for various reasons. But, I always have a goal. Usually an end point. Cow is at point A, I want her to be at point B. Whether point B is in another pen, or just to be out of the mob to rope and doctor without stirring up the others.

I've watched videos of cutting horses working, and while admirable in their athleticism, I don't know the "why" of it. To my rancher brain, I wouldn't want cattle to get used to going back to the others. Cattle learn, too. Though, perhaps if I made money off leasing cattle to cutting events, I'd put up with some bad habits too! :lol:

Links, etc., would be appreciated. I've looked at the NCHA site but it goes from general to technical pretty quick.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,983 Posts
The horse and rider have to get a certain cow from the batch and keep it from going back to the herd for a certain amount of time while showing off the horse's ability to move quickly and think quickly.
Posted via Mobile Device
 

· Registered
Joined
·
22,319 Posts
It's about like anything else in the show world. Incredible presentation, but not much use in the real working world. I've ridden a trained cutting horse while working cattle. In an actual working situation, he was just about as worthless as any non-cowy cull horse. He tried his hardest and could dang sure watch a cow, but he was in the wrong place every time because working ranch cattle is totally different than working "pen" cattle.

As for the cattle aspect of it, I never really thought about that. I'd lay odds though that those cattle they use for cutting are kept in lots, moved everywhere in herds, and if one needs doctored, it's run through a chute. As soon as they get too big or old or "wise" for the cutting arena, they probably go to a feedlot in prep for the killers.
 

· Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,146 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The horse and rider have to get a certain cow from the batch and keep it from going back to the herd for a certain amount of time while showing off the horse's ability to move quickly and think quickly.
Posted via Mobile Device
If I understand correctly, in some types of contests the cattle are numbered and the team draws which group they will have to sort off. I think that's "penning," right?

But, in cutting, the rider can chose which, um, 3 (?) they will go after, one at a time, within a limited time period?

Correct any of that, if needed. And do all sanctioned contests have the same requirements?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,035 Posts
You sound like my DH! He doesn't get why trail ride if you aren't moving cows, why you would rope a calf in an arena when it doesn't need to be roped, why you pen and sort cows for practice.

He is all about practicality and does all those things when there is a point, moving the herd, branding and doctoring but doesn't understand why any one does it when they don't have too!
 

· Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,146 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You sound like my DH! He doesn't get why trail ride if you aren't moving cows, why you would rope a calf in an arena when it doesn't need to be roped, why you pen and sort cows for practice.

He is all about practicality and does all those things when there is a point, moving the herd, branding and doctoring but doesn't understand why any one does it when they don't have too!
Ha ha. Yeah, that's pretty much me.

I went to one arena roping in my life. Took an old steady ranch gelding. Chute opened and we got outrun by the steer. I said "That one isn't sick enough to need doctored."

Now that's the line my ranching neighbors use when they miss a loop.
 

· Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,146 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay. Still thinking about cutting.

So, the rider picks any animal, has to get them away from the others, and has to keep them away for a certain amount of time, right? (Thank you, Roman.)

Do the judges score on how many roll backs the horse has to do? How low to the ground the horse goes? That's where, when I go to a show site, things get quite technical.

I ask those because I've heard cutters say things like "I didn't pick a good one. She just kept moving away from pressure." (which, in ranching I'd like) And I've heard others comment on getting dirt on the toes of their boots.

I've also heard some comment on having a long mane and tail. As in, "Her mane really gets to flying." or "His tail picked up two pounds of dirt." To whip around and look like more is happening? So, is it subjective, like rodeo rough stock riders and their flappy, shiny chaps?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
22,319 Posts
The ideal cow is one that will really challenge the horse by pushing hard to get back to the herd but not so hard that they run into/over the horse. Those cows are generally the ones that will really showcase the horse's ability. So, the riders watch while everyone else makes their runs to try to pick which cattle they think will be the biggest challenge. A cow that doesn't "lock on" will leave you with too much down time where your horse is just standing, waiting for the cow to face back up.

Any cow that turns away from the horse at almost every turn is considered a "quitter" and are a poor choice to sort off because they are difficult to get a good run out of. If the cow won't lock on to the horse and try his best to get back to the herd, then the horse has trouble locking on to the cow and his movements won't be quite as crisp.

As for how they are judged, it's much more than just how they turn around or how low they get, though "style" does play a part. Ideally, the horse is supposed to match the cow's movement down to the very last little detail, almost like working a mirror. If a horse turns around too slow and the cow gets ahead of them, they lose points. If they try to predict what the cow is going to do and the horse gets too far ahead of where the cow is at, they lose points. Of course, if the horse gets beat and the cow gets back to the herd before they wanted it to, they lose mega points.

However, there is also a time when the horse needs to get ahead to turn the cow around. On a perfect run, they should keep the cow in about the middle third of the arena. If the cow gets too far toward the rail on either side, they lose points because that shows a lack of control on the cow.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
6,030 Posts
You do not have to cut out 3 cows. You can cut either 2 or 3 cows in 2 1/2 minutes. Most riders cut 3 cows because if you work one cow too long, about any of them will run over you. You usually only cut two cows when the second one does not give you a good place to quit it with enough time on the clock to get a 3rd cow out. If the buzzer rings while you are in the herd trying to get that third cow, it will cost you points. They call it "dying in the herd".

You can only stop or quit a cow when it is standing still or is turned away from your horse. You cannot quit one when it is facing you and moving. That is called a 'hot quit' and each judge knocks you for 3 points.

If a cow runs past you and gets back to the herd, they deduct 5 points.

There are actually 4 helpers for each cutter. Two are called 'herd holders' and they stay toward the back of the pen near the herd. There are two turnback riders and they say out in front of the cutter to turn the cow back toward the cutter. If they know the cutter is trying to get off of a cow, they back away so the cow will turn away from the cutter and give him a place to quit without penalty.

There is a science to picking the right cows to cut. A cutter's helpers will be watching all of the cutters go before him. These are usually the same people that will help him in the pen. They make a mental note of which cows have been cut. Then, when the cutter is in the pen, they help him pick fresh cows (unworked ones) and cows that will present the right challenge to the horse. Picking cows is so important that there are videos and entire clinics devoted to picking cows that will help you win. It is all about 'reading' cattle correctly.

They used to use herds of identical cattle -- like 30 black Angus. Now, they mix most herds at big money cuttings with something like 10 Angus or black baldies, 10 Herefords (usually slower and more doggie) and 10 crosbred Charolais or Limousin cattle that are pretty waspy. They seldom use cattle with much 'ear' -- denoting that they are part Brahma.

You want cattle that will test a horse and make him look good. Too tough and the horse will lose one. Not tough enough and the horse cannot score high enough.

At big money shows, cattle are not used more than for one class. At small shows, the Open and Non-Pro classes are held first and the cutters are guaranteed 'fresh' cattle (never worked by a horse or been to a show. These 2 classes have the highest entry fee and highest cattle charges and are guaranteed fresh cattle. After they have been held, the youth classes are held (and may re-use some of the first cattle). Then the various Novice horse and Novice rider classes are held. These classes have smaller entry fees and cattle charges, pay back a lot less and use 'used' cattle. By the end of the show (when the lowest level classes are held), the cattle are so sorry, the horse and rider that wins was just lucky enough to get cattle that still worked at all.

Cattle are never supposed to be used for more than one show. After that, they go to the feed lot or get used for team penning or sorting. The last NCHA Futurity I went to was about 3 or 4 years ago. I think the announcer said it took more than 15,000 head of fresh cattle for the entire show. I know they were hauling truckloads of cattle in and out all day every day for 3 weeks.

It is a huge production to put on a big show like that. Most cattle are 'rented'. Cattlemen and ranchers gather fresh cattle that will be hauled to the show. They used to get $100.00 a head to let them be used for the show. It is probably a lot more now with cattle so terribly high. There may be an agreement for the contractor to also pay for 'shrinkage' (amount of weight the cattle lose at the show and from hauling) or the rental fee may include that. The contractor pays for shipping.

One thing is guaranteed -- You will never meet a cutter that was happy with the cattle at any show. Someone or something has to be to blame for not scoring high enough or for losing a cow. An awful lot of the time it is the cattle that get the blame. Most old cutters will start every story with something like "Well, I went to Abilene one year. They had the sorriest old cattle you ever tried to cut. They'd run over a Mack truck, much less the little horse I was hauling back then......."
 

· Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Cherie is spot on. As to the horse training part of it, trainers are just like any other profession. You have those who are working hard to do it right, and those who are concentrating solely on what makes them money.

Originally, the cutting horse was the highest level of cowhorse on a ranch. He was used to sort and separate pairs (calves from cows) before pens were common. There would be a main herd containing pairs and then a smaller herd would be formed that contained the freshly separated calves.
Of course, this method is pretty well never used anymore, but we can certainly see how neighboring ranchers would have pride kick in and start betting that their horse is better than your horse and bam, the first cutting was invented.

Cherie is spot on with the rules and regs.

I have made my living as a 2 year old man for nearly 20 years. I put the first year on these prospects. It takes 18-24 months to train one and they generally begin showing in the futurities at the end of their 3 year old year. Many, of course, have soundness issues and things and don't finish their training in time to compete.
The age events are where most of the money lies in competing. Futurities are for 3 year olds. 4 year olds show in Derbies, and 5-6 year olds show in Classics. Just about any horse that you hear of that won 6 figures in cutting did it in aged event.
As Cherie said, the aged events are big productions that can last a few weeks. There are also some smaller aged events that will be held in conjunction with weekend shows, but they typically don't pay nearly as well, and aren't going to be nearly as competitive as the big shows.
Cutting is now all about showing what the horse can do, but there are still many side benefits. Nearly any cutting horse training operation also doubles as a cattle backgrounding operation. Personally, I do not take in cattle from order buyers as many others do. My typical set of heifers are replacement heifers that I am using to train my horses, but I am also getting them gentled and easier to handle for the cattle producer. How you handle cattle makes a tremendous difference in the way they work. You can indeed spoil a herd and make them nuts, but you can also handle them so that they become well settled and are calm and easy to handle. I even get in some sets of wild a$$ marsh cattle. When they come in they jump fences and run wild. Most of the time, I could drive them down mainstreet by myself after a month or so. I also have always used my 2 year olds to do as much of the ranch work as I can. So, my 2 year olds also rope and doctor cattle and I use a different one each day to pen up the heifers that I am going to work.
There is absolutely no reason why these horses need only by specialized arena babies. It aggravates me to no end when I see an older trained horse that is useless to use to pen up the herd before working them. There's just no reason why that should be. No reason why working cattle a horseback should make them harder to work again. True, they will have a smaller bubble, but they should still honor a horse and be moveable at a relaxed speed and any direction I ask.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,009 Posts
You do not have to cut out 3 cows. You can cut either 2 or 3 cows in 2 1/2 minutes. Most riders cut 3 cows because if you work one cow too long, about any of them will run over you. You usually only cut two cows when the second one does not give you a good place to quit it with enough time on the clock to get a 3rd cow out. If the buzzer rings while you are in the herd trying to get that third cow, it will cost you points. They call it "dying in the herd".

You can only stop or quit a cow when it is standing still or is turned away from your horse. You cannot quit one when it is facing you and moving. That is called a 'hot quit' and each judge knocks you for 3 points.

If a cow runs past you and gets back to the herd, they deduct 5 points.

There are actually 4 helpers for each cutter. Two are called 'herd holders' and they stay toward the back of the pen near the herd. There are two turnback riders and they say out in front of the cutter to turn the cow back toward the cutter. If they know the cutter is trying to get off of a cow, they back away so the cow will turn away from the cutter and give him a place to quit without penalty.

There is a science to picking the right cows to cut. A cutter's helpers will be watching all of the cutters go before him. These are usually the same people that will help him in the pen. They make a mental note of which cows have been cut. Then, when the cutter is in the pen, they help him pick fresh cows (unworked ones) and cows that will present the right challenge to the horse. Picking cows is so important that there are videos and entire clinics devoted to picking cows that will help you win. It is all about 'reading' cattle correctly.

They used to use herds of identical cattle -- like 30 black Angus. Now, they mix most herds at big money cuttings with something like 10 Angus or black baldies, 10 Herefords (usually slower and more doggie) and 10 crosbred Charolais or Limousin cattle that are pretty waspy. They seldom use cattle with much 'ear' -- denoting that they are part Brahma.

You want cattle that will test a horse and make him look good. Too tough and the horse will lose one. Not tough enough and the horse cannot score high enough.

At big money shows, cattle are not used more than for one class. At small shows, the Open and Non-Pro classes are held first and the cutters are guaranteed 'fresh' cattle (never worked by a horse or been to a show. These 2 classes have the highest entry fee and highest cattle charges and are guaranteed fresh cattle. After they have been held, the youth classes are held (and may re-use some of the first cattle). Then the various Novice horse and Novice rider classes are held. These classes have smaller entry fees and cattle charges, pay back a lot less and use 'used' cattle. By the end of the show (when the lowest level classes are held), the cattle are so sorry, the horse and rider that wins was just lucky enough to get cattle that still worked at all.

Cattle are never supposed to be used for more than one show. After that, they go to the feed lot or get used for team penning or sorting. The last NCHA Futurity I went to was about 3 or 4 years ago. I think the announcer said it took more than 15,000 head of fresh cattle for the entire show. I know they were hauling truckloads of cattle in and out all day every day for 3 weeks.

It is a huge production to put on a big show like that. Most cattle are 'rented'. Cattlemen and ranchers gather fresh cattle that will be hauled to the show. They used to get $100.00 a head to let them be used for the show. It is probably a lot more now with cattle so terribly high. There may be an agreement for the contractor to also pay for 'shrinkage' (amount of weight the cattle lose at the show and from hauling) or the rental fee may include that. The contractor pays for shipping.

One thing is guaranteed -- You will never meet a cutter that was happy with the cattle at any show. Someone or something has to be to blame for not scoring high enough or for losing a cow. An awful lot of the time it is the cattle that get the blame. Most old cutters will start every story with something like "Well, I went to Abilene one year. They had the sorriest old cattle you ever tried to cut. They'd run over a Mack truck, much less the little horse I was hauling back then......."
why don't people like cutting Brahmans?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
22,319 Posts
Yep, also one thing I've noticed with those I've had to handle, they tend to get on the fight a lot quicker than other breeds. Makes a bad day for everyone if your cutting horse gets run over in the middle of a competition LOL.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,009 Posts
I guess its all about perspective; 90% of the cattle I have dealt with since I was a kid were Brahman and when I dealt with others I always found them to be to slow. Only ever worked with Herefords once, when I helped muster agistment cattle (which were the Herefords) off a neighbor's place, they are the slowest laziest and sulkyest cattle I have ever worked.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top