B's weekend with COWS!

B is a 9 year old red roan gelding. He was captured as an unhandled stallion on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. With 60 days training and lots of love and gentling under his belt, watch as he gains more confidence and experience to bloom into a perfect riding horse!

B's weekend with COWS!

Postby Juliane on Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:51 pm

A couple months ago, I signed Dandy and I up for a 2-day Beginning Cow Work clinic with Jon Ensign, being held up at Mission Farrier School. Unfortuantely, Dandy came down with a cough last week, and after being seen by Dr. Hannah, was given strict instructions NOT to go to the cow clinic. My options were to lose my deposit and not go, or to take someone else. So, I decided to drag B along.

Poor B - he was totally unprepared for what was in store for him. He was also at 8 weeks for his shoes, so was looking overly long, and since were were going to be at Mission Farrier School, my wonderful farrier, Greer Hei (also a recent Mission Farrier School graduate) met me up there before the clinic started so that we could reset B's shoes :) (She rocks!)

B and I initially had a tough time warming up. It was about 26 degrees out that morning and B hadn't been ridden in a couple weeks. He was stiff and tense when I first got on but pretty quickly worked out of it. I, on the other hand, was a shivering mess. I was as prepared as I thought I could be, with hand warmers and toe warmers and a silly Elmer Fudd hat to keep me warm, but I was still cold. :(

Our first exercise was herding the cows into the arena. This was B's and my first experience together with cows and I was nervous. That, and shivering uncontrollably on him, I was worried I was making him nervous. LOL What a mess. Luckily he was awesome and had no problem with the cows. He was not afraid of them and was more than willing to stare them down and herd them around. He was absolutely amazing!

Our next exercise was to learn how to get our horses to move their hindquarters and front quarters on command. I could pretty easily get B to disengage his hindquarters while on him, but getting him to move his front feet, while keeping his hind feet planted was pretty difficult for us.

I shamefully admit to going through a short period of time of cussing internally, wishing I had Dandy there and not B. Just about then, B and I seemed to 'get it' and everything started to click! All of a sudden, I was able to get his front quarters to move. We were pivoting fools, keeping his hindquarters in one spot, we would turn 360 degrees one way and then the other. He was awesome and seemed quite proud of himself!

However, the challenge came when we were then asked to pick a cow out of the herd, work the cow away from the herd, and practice our turns. The idea was that when a cow turns, they pivot on their hind feet. We should mirror the cow's movements on our horse. It's one thing to practice those moves with no pressure, but when you see a cow moving back and forth trying to jet away from you, it's pretty easy to mess up your cues, or for the horse to go back to his normal way of turning (pivoting on the front). We did pretty good, but definitely had some work to do away from the cows.

Here's some pictures from the first day:

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Feel the Spirit, Keep on Riding!
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Juliane
 
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Postby Juliane on Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:06 pm

Day 2

Our second day started out on a 'bad' foot. B was a sweaty nervous mess when I unloaded him from the trailer Sunday morning. I had no idea why he was so anxious - he hauled quietly, and has never had an issue before. I took my time brushing him and getting him to relax. However, when I saddled him, he immediately tensed up again. He was obviously ready to explode.

I asked Jon how to work him out of something like this, to guarantee that he wouldn't explode when I got on. Jon suggested sending him back and forth, making sure to 'loosen his hindquarters'. I did this for about 5 minutes, and each time B switched direction, he would arc his neck and snort loudly. I gave Jon a look that said "What am I doing wrong?!". This is where I have much to learn from Jon. Jon has an unending supply of patience and confidence that the change you are seeking will come.

I was expecting that B would be fine to get on after 5 minutes of going back and forth. Jon just said "Keep going". 15 minutes later, B was sighing, licking his lips and chewing and a completely different horse. Had I been alone, I likely would have gotten on after 5 minutes, before B was ready and gotten into some kind of trouble.

When I did get on, B was solid and quiet. I worked with him on doing the same exercises from the day before, lots more hindquarter and front quarter yielding. He seemed to remember it all and almost seemed fussy that I was asking him to do it again and again and again. LOL!

We worked in the outdoor arena for the first part of the morning, each one of us pulling out a cow from the herd and working it. B's turns were much, much better than they were the day before. B also seemed to have a natural ability to track a cow, keeping his eyes focused on it and watching it's body language. He's definitely a natural ranch horse and it was great to see the cowboys drooling over him! :)

After our lunch break, Jon and Mark Plumlee gave us a demonstration on how a real life situation might occur on a ranch. They both roped a cow, while Dave laid it down, and pretended to 'medicate' it. It was exciting to watch and I found myself wishing I lived on a ranch, where my day to day life involved herding cows! :)

All in all, it was an excellent clinic and I'm glad I went. I am anxious to ride Dandy and see if I can teach her the hindquarter/front quarter exercises. :)

Here's some pics from our second day:

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Feel the Spirit, Keep on Riding!
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Juliane
 
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Postby busted on Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:57 pm

He looks so good!! I think you found his calling in life!! You may have also found yours.... :wink: Way to go B and Julie!!!
Rachel Dekker formaly Jardine
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Postby Rex Paperd on Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:44 pm

Ughhh....I wish I would have kicked my butt out of bed early enough to go with you. Everyone wants MYYY horse :-) He is such a good boy. So exciting to see how much he has turned around. Would love to get out and learn this stuff with you and really keep on it so he doesn't forget how to do. Also, would love to learn the back and fourth exercise because he likes to tense up sometimes when we go to the arena so that would be nice. Definately looking at a few learning sessions!! Let me know if your up for it :-) Thanks for working with him...I wish I wasn't so busy and got more time to work with him. Appreciate all the help with working with him!!

-Mandy
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