Most of us who cut don’t have to worry about staying hooked on cutting! We’re all plenty hooked on the fun, the adrenalin and our awesome athletic partners, our horses.
It is important though to know what to do in certain odd situations that will inevitably come up when you show.
This article is about what to do when a cow runs through the turn back people and you want to keep working it.
Before I explain more, I want to mention that often the answer is to quit the cow. This is the case when you’ve worked the cow for a bit and it runs through the turn back men. Or perhaps the cow you cut is horrible, and everyone else has lost a cow and you just need a clean run. Many times the correct response is to just quit the cow.
But sometimes you have less than 5 or 6 seconds to go, you’re on your third cow and it would be best to stay on the cow. Or if you are in the finals of a huge competition like Lindy Burch in the video, you may want to stay on the cow.
This article is about what to do if you want to stay hooked/connected to the cow.
In Lindy’s situation, she was in the finals and it was her first cow. It was a great risk to keep working the cow because she didn’t know what the cow would do when it came back to her (risk of her horse staying hooked or not … risk of how bad the cow would be when it returned). But in cutting judging, it’s all about risk and reward. The higher the risk, the higher the reward. Lindy took the risk and she was rewarded with a Reserve Championship.
If you choose to keep working the cow, as a rider, what exactly do you do?
#1. Know your job, which is to stay even with the cow no matter where it is. Stay even and parallel with the cow on the line.
You are on a linear plane going left and right. The cow is on a three dimensional plane, running left and right as well as running towards you and away from you. Throughout it all, your job is to help your horse remain only on a parallel position with the cow just as if you were working it close to you.
That’s tricky because you will not be moving much from where you are … just a little left and right as the cow is jetting all around. Your moves will be tiny. The cow’s moves will be huge. Stay cool.
#2. Resist the tendency to move in an effort to do something (anything!) and cease riding your horse forward. Sit still … very still. Your job is to stay even with the cow. Make any moves precise and tiny and only in relation to the cow. You can see how Lindy sits perfectly still. When she does move to her right, her moves are measured.
#3. Keep your eyes focused intently on the cow. Make your eyes become like laser beams of light that are beaming at the cow. This sharp focus with your eyes will transmit to your horse (in most cases) and he will stay focused on the cow, too.
#4. Keep your body soft and stay heavy and anchored deep in your core. If you get anxious, that will translate into body tension … which translates into leg tension … which tells your horse to go somewhere … anywhere … and probably off the cow. Anchor your core and stay soft.
#5. Stay patient and let the cow come back to you. You have to wait. Patience is the name of the game.
When the cow runs off, plant your seat and stay deep, soft and still. Focus intently on the cow. Make little moves left and right … and let the cow come back to you.