We had a chance to work cattle from horseback yesterday. It’s one of our favorite things to do! One of the ladies described working cattle horseback as a ballet. As I watched people work with their horses on the cattle I believed more and more that she was right! Getting a horse to be right on cattle is fine art. There are horses that are bred to be a cowhorse. Those horses seem to know instinctively what to do and where to be. All we need to do is let them know what the job is and get out of the way. Other horses may be less sure and not as cowy but, we haven’t found many horses that didn’t enjoy moving cattle around a pasture or putting them into a corral. It seems to give meaning and purpose to the things we’ve asked them to do before putting them on cattle.
I’m not a dancer. A lack of rhythm and two left feet have prevented that. I am an admirer of those that can dance and a student of how a horse can dance with a cow. The ability of a horse to read a cow is phenomenal. How we use that ability to our advantage is key to being successful in working cattle with a horse. If we have a horse that is naturally cowy, we try to figure out how to let our horse know what our goal is and then get out of the way. We want them to let them do our thing their way. If we are riding a horse that doesn’t have that natural instinct and doesn’t have any experience working cattle, our ability to read cattle and communicate with our horse where to be will help him develop the ability to read cattle.
When dancing with a partner, timing and balance between partners is critical. Getting the horsemanship piece between horse and rider good before working cattle really smooths out the introduction of cattle into the dance. If horse and rider aren’t in sync, it’s tougher for the horse to stay with the cow. We have to have confidence in our horse’s ability to do the job and go with him. Much of that confidence comes from how we introduce our horse to cattle. Done right, we’ll have a confident horse that knows how to dance with a cow. A confident rider riding a confident horse is the best way to have FUN working cattle horseback! Come join us next time we’re working cattle and give us a chance to help you have that kind of fun with your horse.