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View Full Version : Pls educate me - cutting horses



oliverreed
Aug. 1, 2012, 03:10 PM
I only use my western saddle for trail riding. But in watching vids of cutting horsses, it seems to me that the horse is really doing all the work, the rider is just along for the ride. Is this true? How the heck do you train a horse to do this? They are just amazing!

Bluey
Aug. 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
You start with a horse that is bred and has the ability to want to cow.
Then you train it for several years carefully, so it learns so much it goes into keeping that natural ability to control the movements of a cow.
A good cowhorse will do the work, but you have to manage them very well so they keep working well, not start cheating in the corners until they start running off or losing their cattle, not overfacing them when tired, get them a less athletic cow to work, etc.

The NCHA has some short videos explaining what judges are looking for, may even be free, I have seen them advertised.

Here is a run two weeks ago tying for World Ch in the junior division at the big Cutting Spectacular.
That was a tremendous effort by his mare and him staying with her and helping her get where she needed to be:

http://nchatv.com/2012/07/14/jake-baca-2012-junior-youth-co-champ/

lizathenag
Aug. 1, 2012, 03:31 PM
I was a working cowgirl at one point in my life. Those cutting horses were amazing. The gate horses even more so and I rarely hear about them. Between the horses and the dogs, it was an easy life (except for the 18 hour days in the saddle...!)

Burbank
Aug. 1, 2012, 03:38 PM
it is my highly limited understanding that , yes they do the work and they have to WANT to do the work

you can teach them confidence, and what you want them to do but they have to deep down really want that cow

Bluey
Aug. 1, 2012, 03:46 PM
Several years ago, watching a neighbor start some cutting colts one evening, he had about six weeks on them and was starting them tracking one cow in a large round pen, he rode four, some doing better than others, then started riding this little sorrel filly that just danced naturally with her cow.

What a difference in talent right off from very nice prospects to an obvious promising star.

The neighbor sold her to a top trainer, he knew he would not do her justice and she went on to do very well.
Training is very important, but talent and ability can't be trained it has to be there.

Then, there are plenty of horses with no cow that are so well trained they can work almost as well as if they knew what they were doing, but not many can pull that one off.

threedogpack
Aug. 1, 2012, 04:29 PM
Here is a run two weeks ago tying for World Ch in the junior division at the big Cutting Spectacular.
That was a tremendous effort by his mare and him staying with her and helping her get where she needed to be:

http://nchatv.com/2012/07/14/jake-baca-2012-junior-youth-co-champ/

What an amazing mare! She took care of that little boy!

threedogpack
Aug. 1, 2012, 04:31 PM
then started riding this little sorrel filly that just danced naturally with her cow.

What a difference in talent right off from very nice prospects to an obvious promising star.

and that is why the bloodlines are so narrow. Pleasure horses can't do what those cutters do, but there are failed cutter bred horses that make outstanding pleasure horses.

LJStarkey
Aug. 1, 2012, 05:22 PM
I only use my western saddle for trail riding. But in watching vids of cutting horsses, it seems to me that the horse is really doing all the work, the rider is just along for the ride. Is this true? How the heck do you train a horse to do this? They are just amazing!

It's the horse's job to "read" the cow. It's the rider's job to provide acceleration. In a nutshell, that's the division of labor during the cutting process that you see in highlight reels.

What you don't see is the part where the rider sits and studies the herd for 20-30 minutes before the show to pick the right ones for to give their horse the best "play" on that particular day.

What you don't see is choosing the turnback help -- the riders who sit at the four corners of the arena and push the cow back into the field of play.

What you don't see is the hours of practice on a flag and at home.

What you don't see is choosing the right horse and the right trainer.

As in any horse discipline, if it's done right, it looks easy. If it looks easy, it took years to make it look that way.

All that to say that if you'd really like to learn to cut, most cutting trainers are delighted to give lessons, and age is no barrier to enjoyment in the cutting pen.

rabicon
Aug. 5, 2012, 02:41 PM
Kind of like dressage. Many of my none horsie friends will watch grand prix dressage and think the horse just knows what to do lol. Far from it but the riders are suppose to not be noticed. Just like cutting. These horses are trained from an early age how to track a cow. Lots of practice and yes lots of want on the horses part or its just not going to work. The rider uses more seat and leg as dressage then rein so your not seeing much from the rider. A good cow horse will track the cow keep it's head low and make most of the movements on its own but the riders is not just a passenger they are giving subtle cues to the horse

HydroPHILE
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:49 AM
I had a yearling AQHA colt that would cut Emus and cattle in the pasture solely for the fun of it. That's when I knew he would make someone a great cutting or reined cowhorse one day.

He thought nothing to race down beside them and cut one out of the group and keep them away until his ADD kicked in, and he wanted to run around like an idiot and be prancy mcprancypants showing off for no one :) Absolutely beautiful to watch move and cut on his own.

Now you would take a horse like that and hone in on his natural ability to cut...and link what he's doing with what you're asking him to do.

Tamara in TN
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:52 AM
A cutting horse has one of the highest inheritable traits known to horses.

The ability to look at a cow. Once they look it is the job of the trainer to teach them when to dwell(wait) rate (increase or decrease speed) and to tell them when a cow has been worked enough or is a bad draw and not worth the time.

The better bred the horse and the better the stock he is trained on the quicker he learns this job

Tamara

englishcowgirl
Aug. 9, 2012, 01:23 PM
Don't know how they do it but rescued a paint once from a bad situation. Older, unbroke horse with what I was told very "cowy" bloodlines and had been born on a working ranch. That horse would just go push the cows around, all on his own because he liked to. Just loved it, but the worst jumper ever so gave him away to a family member who trail rides. He lives in a place with cows now and will gallop across the pasture to watch them go in for dinner, he is just drawn to them. I think it is something that they are born with.

Fillabeana
Aug. 11, 2012, 10:27 PM
I have two cutting bred mares (Dual Pep on top and 'Kitty' mare line from which Highbrow Cat came) and they are AMAZING on a cow.
The really hot one can make a cow fall down- and not by running back and forth, more like a Border Collie staring the cow down and stopping the cow's move almost before she starts it. Add that to a bit of mud and a fat old cow, and they fall down. Then they go sheepishly where the horse wants them to!

I also have an OTTB gelding that will jump for a cow if he wants to. He's VERY cowy, but not in the same league as the cutting bred mares. I could probably show him in a Working Cow Horse class (with some practice), where you do a reining pattern, 'cut' but with your hands on the reins allowed, and then run a cow down the fence, turn her twice and circle her each way. And do pretty well, he's sure got the talent (minus a spectacular sliding stop for the reining). But about the only time I can 'put my hand down' on him (so he'll work the cow by himself), is when we are keeping a mad mama cow off my husband while he weighs and tags her new baby calf- that gelding knows EXACTLY what we need him to do, and he will protect my husband.

Most ranch horses (the good ones) can work cows pretty well, but they won't usually work a cow without direction from the rider. (Unless they have cutting horses close up in their pedigrees, or they are 'recycled' cutting horses.) But a good/well trained ranch horse, you can put exactly where you need him to be, and get the cows to go right where you need them to go.

I've seen plenty of stock-type AQHA or Paint bred horses who didn't give two farts where the cow goes, and you'd better hope the cow doesn't figure that out. Those are usually the really quiet disposition type horses. But I've never met a Thoroughbred that wasn't pretty cowy, given the appropriate exposure. I've got an Appendix mare from a Gunsmoke bred stallion, out of a failed OTTB mare, and she's almost as cowy as my cutting horses. I had a Percheron/TB, and he had plenty of cow. I also had two Arabs, one was OK on cattle and the other was great.

You never know where you're going to get a really useful cowhorse, but I have noticed that those really super quiet, tolerant QH types often just don't care a bit what the cow does. That's good if you are a novice trying to rope calves, and the horse just sort of drags the calf along, but not so good if you're trying to get a sick cow in, or trying to sort in a corral or an alley. You can gather cattle with just about anything sound, though.

ccoronios
Aug. 22, 2012, 02:39 PM
What Rabicon said. Go to a smaller show and LISTEN to the 'help' helping the competitor. Falls Creek (RI barn?) used to have a couple shows; Shartlesville, PA has several; don't know of any others - used to be several in Wappingers Falls, NY but they haven't had any in a few years.

LOTS of aids that are not visible; even more THINKING ahead of the action. The best advice I heard was "THINK ABOUT IT" - a cue to look for a place to quit that particular cow. PATIENCE - worst beginner mistake is racing through the herd. Get them all moving around and there's no way you can make a good cut (separating the cow you want to work from its 20-40 buddies - they are herd animals, after all), which wants to be quiet, slow, smooth and just 'happen'.

Good balance, being able to FEEL what the horse is doing, and read what the cow is thinking...all must haves. The best horse cannot do its job if the load on its back is flailing all over the place, giving (unintended) aids to walk/jump/back up/fly/lope all at once!

And your help is vital - they, too, need to know their jobs and be slow & quiet.

FUN FUN FUN to watch.

Carol

BensMama
Sep. 3, 2012, 05:23 AM
Most ranch horses (the good ones) can work cows pretty well, but they won't usually work a cow without direction from the rider. (Unless they have cutting horses close up in their pedigrees, or they are 'recycled' cutting horses.) But a good/well trained ranch horse, you can put exactly where you need him to be, and get the cows to go right where you need them to go.

I've seen plenty of stock-type AQHA or Paint bred horses who didn't give two farts where the cow goes, and you'd better hope the cow doesn't figure that out. Those are usually the really quiet disposition type horses. But I've never met a Thoroughbred that wasn't pretty cowy, given the appropriate exposure. I've got an Appendix mare from a Gunsmoke bred stallion, out of a failed OTTB mare, and she's almost as cowy as my cutting horses. I had a Percheron/TB, and he had plenty of cow. I also had two Arabs, one was OK on cattle and the other was great...
You can gather cattle with just about anything sound, though.

I love this post. :D I know exactly what you mean! My Paint gelding tries, bless his heart...but he has NO natural cow. He'll do anything you point him at, but he can't do it by himself - he needs instruction from the rider. My QH colt, on the other hand, has a lot of cow. I have high hopes for that little guy. And one of the best cowhorses I've seen is my hubby's old retired TB gelding. He got a lot of strange looks from the other cowboys, but they changed their tune once they saw Critter work! :D