- Personal Performance Coach for all riders | Cutting Horse Trainer and Educator | Author, Speaker, Clinician - https://barbraschulte.com -

“Part 4: Working the Cow”

This is Part 4 in our video analysis series.

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 4 episode you will learn interpretations for two key words and phrases trainers use while you work the cow. You will also learn key points for how you can apply them to your cutting.

If you have any trouble accessing the video from the arrow below, here is the direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfGj6zqJ4t0 [1]


Video Time Window for Part IV
2:37 – 2:42

It’s amazing how much goes on in 5 seconds during your run!


Video Time 2:38 – 2:39
What’s happening: The transition from herdwork to working the cow

At 2:38 Austin says to Cade, “Right there”. Even though it’s not easy to see in the video, this is the point where Cade puts his hand down and starts working the cow after an aggressive cut.

What’s important for you to know is that a KEY moment exists (and requires specific action on your part) when you transition from making the cut to working the cow.

This transition moment involves specific body shifts plus a mental focus shift.

KEY POINTS to remember about the transition from making the cut to working the cow:


Video Time 2:40 – 2:42
What’s happening: “Wait!” Stay quiet and deep in the stop. It’s another critical point that’s up to you.

At 2:40 Austin says to Cade, “Wait”. If you stop the video at 2:41 you will see the classic moment when all cutting horse riders need to “Wait”.

How many times have you heard, “Wait, wait, wait!”?

To explain more about this idea of “wait” I’d like to lay some ground work.

Working the cow is a combination of position to control the cow (when possible) within a movement pattern (stop, draw, turn, accelerate) … all ideally in a pretty rhythm.

It is the accuracy of the horse’s movements along with the timing and rhythm of those movements that make working the cow so beautiful when done well.

A critical place in the rhythm is when the horse stops with a cow.

The horse’s job is to not only stop but then draw his weight back even more over his haunches as he (and the rider) read the cow.

Both horse and rider wait for the cow to make the next move as they remain deeply anchored and still.

The horse must maintain his weight on his hind quarters in order to pivot and turn with balance when the time comes to move with the cow.

As the rider’s waits for the cow, his/her job is to sit low, soft and still in the saddle.

If the rider moves his/her upper body or legs during this critical time of balance for the horse, often the horse’s balance is compromised. He might shift a little forward and transfer some weight onto his front.

Or, if the horse is wondering, “Why the rider is moving up there? What is the rider trying to tell me?” he might be distracted from reading the cow. If so, his next move may be too quick or too late.

Hence the instruction from your helpers/trainer, “Wait!”. They want you to sit deeply and quietly until the appropriate time comes to support your horse on the line or in the turn. You need to wait quietly for the cow to make the next move.

“Wait” has to do with dropped “weight” (-: stillness and a laser like, yet patient, focus on the cow.

KEY POINTS for “Wait”:


In Part 5 of this series, I will talk about getting “across a cow,” rhythm working a cow and using your herd side foot.