“Part 3: Put Your Cow on the Outside and Drive UP!”

This is Part 3 in our video analysis series.

  • Herdwork Planning (Part 1)
  • Walk to the herd (Part 1)
  • Approaching the Herd (Part 2)
  • Executing Your Two Jobs IN the Herd (Part 3)
  • 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 Part 3 episode you will find tips on your two jobs in the herd.

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the importance of having a plan for your herdwork. In Part 2 I discussed your approach to the herd (just prior to entering the herd).

Now in this episode, I will talk about key tips for your walk through the herd … and driving up to the middle of the arena. 

Video Time Window for Part III
2:08 – 2:37

Quick Review 2:08 – 2:13

During this 10 seconds of the video, Austin points out to Cade where the cattle are located in the herd. These are cattle they had planned to cut when they designed their herdwork before the run.

Austin, “See the white cow … looking away from us by the red mott."

This information helps Cade decide where he will enter the herd, and gets him focused on what he will do to set up a proactive cut of the white cow.

KEY REVIEW POINTS for you just prior to entering the herd:

  • Make sure you hear your helpers. If you do not hear what he or she says, ask them to repeat it again. Talk to them. Take your time. You have time.
  • Make sure you not only heard what was said, but you see the cow, or the situation. Again, pause. “Get your bearings”. Know where you’re going.
  • Enter the herd with purpose.


Now, in the following segments of time for this article, Austin stresses two key points to Cade repeatedly:

#1: He wants Cade to position the white cow on the outside of the flow of the herd.

#2. He pushes Cade to drive up and forward with energy!

POINT #1: As you walk through the herd, make a push to position your cow on the outside of the flow … or at least look to the outside of the flow of cattle (if you cut for shape). 2:14 – 2:21

At 2:14 Austin reminds Cade to, “Get her (the white cow) on the outside and get drove up.”

At 2:21 he reminds Cade again, “Push her to that outside, now. Go ahead and push her where you want her to go.”

Even though you cannot see much in the video in these few seconds of time, the wisdom for you is in what Austin says to Cade. His words are golden.

KEY POINTS for putting a cow on the outside of the flow:

  • Always look to the outside of the flow of cattle when you are walking in the herd. Do not focus on the cattle going around you or right in front of you, or under you.
  • If you have a specific cow you want to cut, your first job IN the herd is to try to position her to the outside of the flow of cattle. You can have a lot of influence on your cow. Put her where you want her to be. Austin said, "Push her to the outside, now.” Be proactive in the herd … not reactive.
  • Positioning your cow on the outside sets up the next step for your job in the herd … drive your cow way up and to the middle of the arena.

POINT #2: As you drive UP and through the herd keep driving forward with great energy. 2:14 – 2:37

Now it’s time for the second part of your herdwork mission. Drive up. In fact, get way up and away from the herd. Go for a gorgeous cut in the middle of the arena.

You can see this time segment of the video a little better but it’s still not great. But again, the learning opportunity for you is in the wisdom of Austin’s words … and the way he says them.

Austin reminds Cade to move forward repeatedly. That’s because there’s a natural tendency in all of us to hang back and not drive up. It feels safer to be defensive. But, it’s not safer at all! Plus, winning runs have “clean” and offensive herdwork.

I love how Austin coaches Cade at 2:27. He’s not frantic, but he is energized: “Keep going. Keep going! Keep pushing, Cade. Get through those cows. Push through! GO! GO! GO! GO! Trot! COME ON! Get up, Cade. Come on! Come on! Come on!”

It’s so interesting to me that even though Austin and Cade show consistently, they still remind themselves to position the cow, and to drive up.

The importance of reminding yourself to do these two pieces … and doing them … cannot be overstated.

KEY POINTS for driving up:

  • See your job IN the herd as having two parts. The first is to put your cow on the outside, or if you’re cutting for shape, look to the outside of the flow. The second is to drive up.
  • During your warm up … spend time thinking about these pieces. See yourself in the arena doing these things. Plan your script for both.
  • For driving your cow up and to the middle of the arena, some self-talk suggestions are, “Ok! Keep going! Come on! Drive up!”
  • Review this plan repeatedly so you are focused on it when you show.
  • Know that driving a cow up and with authority is not a rote blast of energy. You still need to read the position and energy of the cow. Just don’t fall behind. Look for and take advantage of opportunities to be proactive and drive beyond the other cattle.
  • Remember, when you make offensive cuts, you earn credit. You set yourself apart from the pack. Your proactive performance impacts your score. With your gorgeous herdwork, you make a subtle, but very clear statement to the judge … “I’m here to show my horse to you! I’m confident.”
  • After your run, watch your video and discover what went well as you walked through the herd, and what did not go well. See where things just began to go awry. Work on those tiny things.
  • Have fun making proactive and courageous cuts!

In Part 4 of this multiple part series, I will talk about putting your hand down and working the cow. See you then!

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3 Comments on “Part 3: Put Your Cow on the Outside and Drive UP!”

  1. Trudy on Thu, 8th Mar 2018 7:21 pm
  2. Love all the information and video

  3. Barbra Schulte on Thu, 8th Mar 2018 7:27 pm
  4. Thank you, Trudy.

  5. Judy on Sun, 16th May 2021 11:23 am
  6. So helpful! I never knew how you could cut a specific cow.

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