“Three Steps for Better Stops and Turns”

One of the biggest challenges in learning to cut is to sit at the right time, to sit deeply and to allow your horse to turn correctly. Three simple steps can help the following cutting challenges:

  • Rider leaning
  • Horse going too long on a cow
  • Horse not drawing back on his haunches
  • Rider using feet too quickly in the turn
  • Rider not reading the cow

The Three Steps

1. Sit quicker.

Sometimes cutters will be looking at the cow, but not reading the cow. They know they need to sit for the stop, but they sit too late causing a horse to go too long or not draw back on his hindquarters before he turns.

The solution … read the cow for the purpose of helping your horse stop accurately in the right position to stop the cow. Just tell yourself, “Sit quick,” and you may be surprised at the results because you are reading the cow better and helping your horse physically to be able to turn around correctly.

2. Sit again.

It’s easy for cutters to sit the initial time when they know it’s time to stop, but then immediately their body rises up again in anticipation of the turn. This may cause the rider to lean and/or use their feet too quickly in the turn. It may also cause the horse to not to draw back.

The solution is after you sit quickly in Step One, dramatically drop down even deeper one more time. Pretend you are becoming a small ball and you are going to keep dropping down into your horse in the stop. You can tell yourself the words, “Sit again.” It’s very effective.

3. Give the turn to your horse.

We all try to control things and make things happen. But being ahead of your horse by trying to do “something” with your upper body and feet before it’s time for you to resume using your feet or seat on the line after the turn can cause leaning, fast feet and a horse who doesn’t draw.

Instead, simply tell yourself that it’s your horse’s job to turn … not yours. Tell yourself to “Be still. Don’t move. Stay in a ball.” The effectiveness of this is dependent upon how disciplined you are in talking to yourself.

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“Three Steps for Better Stops and Turns”


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4 Comments on “Three Steps for Better Stops and Turns”

  1. Kim Burck on Wed, 20th Jul 2016 11:42 pm
  2. Barbara, everyone one says read the cow! Do you have any pointers on how to read a cow, what to look for? Thanks, Kim

  3. Lloyd Estes on Thu, 21st Jul 2016 10:33 am
  4. Hi Barbara, Thanks for sending “Three Steps For Better Stops And Turns”. I may have said this earlier, but IMHO, the tach and rider are the horses “Back Pack”. Applied Physics finds the “Back Pack” position/location to greatly dictate whether the horse is being good, bad, sore, untrained, or trying to compensate for an unbalanced “Back Pack”. Physiologically, the rider hears DON’T LEAN IN. therefore counter-productively, often causes the rider to focus on leaning, which may actually promote leaning “IN”. Comparatively, DROP THE HERD SIDE SHOULDER UNTIL YOU FEEL YOUR HIP BONE ENGAGE THE SADDLE LEATHER. That small weight transfer gets the BACK PACK closer to CG (center of gravity), but also supports more base wide stops and turns. Base wide stops are critical to avoiding stifle/short rib interference and injury. Subject to degree of leaning in, the horse is catching its balance in the stop and turn, while going base narrow. Base narrow in the turn, has the stifle position to collide with the short rib and lock up. The foot is then the only mobile component because it can slip in the dirt. However, the slipping foot is a tense moment, because we know the stifle and short rib has collided, resulting in stressing hocks and flat spotted stifles.

  5. Barbra Schulte on Thu, 21st Jul 2016 10:46 am
  6. Hi Kim. That’s s great question. To me reading the cow is a combo of a couple of things. One is just a desire to watch the cow for the purpose of “predicting” what it will do ahead of time … and to relax into it. Reading a cow is a bit instinctive like a cat reading a mouse. Sometimes we get caught up in mechanics of riding so we see the cow but we’re not focused on it. Try having the intention to really focus on the cow to “read” it and enjoy the process of gaining that feel. I know this is a rather vague answer but I also know it could help your process. Thanks Kim. Barb

  7. sherry on Thu, 21st Jul 2016 9:24 pm
  8. Hi Barbara,

    I loved this information, makes so much sense & just what I needed. Thank you for sharing so much expertise

    Looking forward to my next cutting 🙂


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