THE VERSATILE HORSE
~ Western Riding every which way
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Of course, the grand daddy of them all is Cutting Horse and, once again, you will find a multi million dollar sport behind that in the USA but many find Working Cow Horse provides a bit more action and, once a western horse has got cow sense, it can just as easily do either.
But it’s in the team events such as Team Penning (another class that’s huge internationally), Team Sorting and Team Trail that the novice cattle horse can find itself getting the confidence to tackle the solo cattle classes such as Working Cow Horse and Solo penning.
It’s a game of cat and mouse between horse and cow where the horse only is being judged and the rider better be sitting there looking for all the world as though he’s just there to enjoy the best seat in the house.
More than any other form of Western Riding, Cutting has its origins firmly set in the roots of the working cowboy.
It takes a lot of training and patience to produce a good cutting horse but all the characteristics of a good versatile horse are needed. Add to that some real cow sense, and you’ll be well on your way to having a cutting horse.
Before the cow is released into the arena, the horse and rider must work a simple reining pattern.
Having done that, it gets real interesting because horse and rider then have to take a cow round the reining pattern with them!
Needless to say, the cow needs to be shown the way and it’s just as much cat and mouse as it is in a Cutting Class. But the horse has to have a few more qualities than the nimbleness needed for the Cutting Horse class.
Outright speed is one of them. The Working Cow Horse doesn’t have the cutter’s benefit of other horses in the arena to help keep the cow where it should be and depends purely on its good cow sense to stay one step ahead of the cow.
It’s popularity lies in the fact it can be done without needing a fully finished Cutting Horse and is a good way of getting into cattle work while your horse is still building its cow sense. And you have two other riders out there with you to get the job done.
The “job” in this case is to take 3 nominated cows from an unrestrained herd at one end of the arena and park them in a small pen at the other end.
The horses need cutting skills to hook the nominated cows from the herd and Working
Cow Horse skills to get those cut cows up the arena to the pen. To be done in just
2 ½ minutes -
Well. Getting it out of the pen to start with is your first problem. Your horse has
to work quietly in a restricted space among a small herd, find the cow and get it
back through the herd to and out of the gate -
You might be lucky and your cow see the other pen as a refuge but that rarely happens
Getting the cow into the pen when you get there usually needs some brisk dancing on your horse’s part.
It involves a team of 3 horses, taking a small herd of about 10 cows out of a pen and driving the herd round a figure of 8 course.
Again it needs to be done in 2 ½ minutes but is a judged event and speed isn’t the object. All horses must follow the same course as the cows and, needless to say, points are lost for straying cows.
The class is completed when the herd has been placed back in its pen.