This is Part 2 in this multiple part video analysis series in which I dig deep into concrete, key fundamentals you can immediately use in your cutting runs.
- Herdwork Planning (Part 1)
- Walk to the herd (Part 1)
- Approaching the Herd (Part 2)
- Walk through the herd to set up a clean cut mid-arena
- Proactive cuts
- Key points for working the cow for each cow
- Between cattle strategizing to build a run
For the series, I’m using a Youtube video posted by Cutting Horse Central during which Austin Shepard coaches his son, Cade to a big championship at the Breeder’s Invitational. Austin has a Go-Pro camera mounted on his hat. While the quality of video is not ideal, there are priceless, classic coaching points made by Austin.
This video depicts “real life” in the cutting pen as experienced by the cutter being coached. That’s why I thought it would benefit you!
In this multiple part series, I identify incremental key take aways you can use during very specific segments of a show run.
Video Time Window for Part II
2:00 – 2:21
1. Focus as You Walk to the Herd 2:00 – 2:05
During these 5 seconds of the video you won’t see Austin or Cade, nor will you hear sound except for a little ambient audio buzz.
You’re probably thinking, now Barb … WHY in world would you call attention to this part of the video?
How you walk to the herd … what you are thinking … where you look … and your posture … are important for two reasons:
- What your are thinking keeps you focused, grounded, and calm. This state of mind impacts your body and your emotions. It sets you up to make good decisions for when you do enter the body of the herd and make your cut.
- Where you look and how you look as you walk to the herd sends a message to the judge. You project confidence (or not) somewhere on a continuum from anxious and unsure to, “I’ve got this!”
- At all times you want to look professional and say (through your actions and posture) that you are there to present your awesome horse to the judge.
KEY POINTS to help you focus as you walk to the herd:
- Mentally review your herdwork plan as you walk to the herd.
- Remind yourself to stay mentally grounded. Have pre-determined words to help yourself, i.e., “Stay cool, Barb … stay cool.”
- Keep your eyes on the herd, no matter what your helpers say to you. Do not look at them when they talk to you. Listen to them intently, but there is no need to look at them. This will help you process what they are saying, and stay focused.
- Keep your posture upright. Have the look of confidence … chin up; shoulders back; eyes on the herd. This will help you feel more confident. It also gives a subtle message to the judge that you are confident!
- Wherever you begin your walk to the herd from in front of the judge’s stand, walk in a straight line towards the herd. Don’t zig-zag over to your corner help to chat or hug the fence. This too begets the look of confidence, especially when combined with focused eyes on the herd, and the posture of chin up and shoulders back.
2. Assimilate Information From Your Helpers as You Near the Herd 2:05 – 2:21
Cade is not in the frame of the video yet at 2:05, but momentarily Austin begins to locate several cattle for Cade, “Gray cow and the white cow. See the white cow there, Cade looking away from us by the red mott?”
- As Cade approaches the herd, he is zeroing in on which cattle his Dad is talking about. He is doing this step-by-step, moment-by-moment. This influences where he will enter the herd and how he will walk through the herd. The cutter’s experience is one of constantly processing information about ever-changing cattle positions in the herd.
- Notice Cade keeps his eyes on the herd while Austin talks to him. He does not look at Austin.
As Cade gets closer to the herd, Austin continues to talk about where the white cow is located, and he adds, “That may be the left-eared baldie over there by her (the white cow).”
- Cade’s hears what his Dad is saying. He stays calm as he processes that another one of the cows on their list might be a good choice, too depending on the position of the cattle as he walks the herd momentarily.
KEY POINTS to help you assimilate information from your helpers as you near the herd:
1. As you approach the herd and a helper coaches you, i.e., locates cattle or reminds you of something he or she thinks you need to remember:
- Keep your eyes on the herd.
- Breathe and maintain a feeling of calmness. Listen closely to what your helper says.
- Stay grounded … don’t feel rushed. You have time to make decisions.
- If you don’t understand what your helper is saying, i.e., which cow he or she means … pause … keep your eyes on the herd … and ask for clarification. Make sure you understand.
- Maintain a rhythm … look … step … pause when necessary … nod your head in acknowledgement … or talk to your helper and confirm what was said.
2. The decision about which cow you will ultimately cut is always yours. Your helpers can give you information and coaching about what to do, but situations change in a heartbeat and you will always have to make the decision. (I completely understand that this can be intimidating and unnerving.)
In Part 3 of this multiple part series, I will talk about decision making in the herd. I will also talk about how to walk through the herd so to set up a clean cut in the middle of the arena. See you then!