I have a 2001 model TB mare who has had years of dressage training (and therefore is VERY on the bit and into contact and not so much western appropriate). When she was coming off of a suspensory injury, I took her to a cattle clinic just for fun, and low and behold... my obnoxious TB dove right into a herd of cattle and cut them like she was bred for it. I let it go since it was just for fun, but she's been cranky lately with the dressage work, like she hates life, so I was thinking of a change of pace.
Do any of you know of any western SPORT trainers (cutters, ropers; no barrels) that are in the Chesterfield, VA area that could possibly take a 30-day evaluation? I'd like some suggestions to talk to, so I can see if maybe this is the direction she really wants to go.
That's so awesome-- a TB that wants to boss cattle around and an owner who will respect her wishes.
FWIW, my young WB gelding bred to by my hunter liked moving cattle around, too.
The guy who helped me figure this out said that a lot of WBs "have cow." IME, most horses like discovering that they can make another animal move around. It makes them feel like the Donald Trump of the animal world. They dig the powah.
From my experience, a TB that doesn't want to boss cattle around is the unusual one.
Cattle work involves knowing herd dynamics well. Horse herds and cow herds are really similar in terms of behavior. A good racehorse knows how to rate the pace of his racing competitors- there are a lot of herd dynamics going on in a race. So in my opinion, Thoroughbreds bred to be successful racehorses have unintentionally been bred to have great herd instincts. Almost all TBs are bred for racing, so most of the genetic base has good herd instincts.
I have two cutting-bred AQHA mares. They are hard to sort cattle on, because they are SO intent on bossing the cows. ALL of the cows. If you want just one cow, they will NOT let that cow get past!...and in fact they don't want to let any cows go past, and that can stir up the cattle.
My Appendix mare (from an OTTB dam and ranch horse sire) and my OTTB gelding are great at sorting, they will watch the cattle and boss the one/s YOU are after, and let the other ones past quietly.
Any horses that have not been exposed to cattle might be terribly spooky about them at first, I wouldn't evaluate 'cow smarts' in a horse until the horse was totally cool around cattle. I would bet that just about any TB has the cow sense to go do cow things. The appropriate training/exposure to go do well, though, is another matter entirely!
I would HIGHLY recommend Kent Stough, but he's in Frederick, MD, which seems a bit far. I used to video quite a bit of cutting, and I don't recognize any names in NC/VA.
Working cattle is a blast - have fun! And another "good on y' " for listening to your mare! No reason why she can't do both - cows & dressage. When I lived in KY, a woman had an amazing ??breeding gelding - evented, showed hunters... and worked on their farm. One morning at an event, just as she entered at A, the farmers up the hill decided to move their herd. Lots of lowing... Clay (gelding) didn't score very well - he was perfectly willing to go round in circles, "but Mom, there's work to be done - we can do your circles later!!!"