“The Rhythm of Working a Cow”

One challenge in working a cow, is to get all of the pieces of accuracy, form and rhythm to stay correct … no matter the speed of the cow.

This video is a great example of the pretty form and rhythm we all aspire to achieve as we work a cow. Below the video, I explain the component parts of working a cow.

Identify those pieces as you watch Lloyd Cox and Blackish work a cow.

The Rhythm of Working a Cow

Let’s start from the place where you and your horse are traveling across the arena, on a straight line, and in position with a cow.

You: Good position as you travel … slightly ahead of the cow … your leg in the cow’s shoulder.

Cow: Begins to slow down.

You: Because you’re reading the cow as you travel … and you and your horse are in position to stop the cow … when you see the cow begin to even think about slowing down, your seat drops to help your horse rate the cow and get ready to stop.

Cow: Stops.

You: Collapse your back and drop your seat softly down “into” your saddle as you see the cow stop. Continue to exhale and imagine your core dropping into your horse. 

Cow: Still stopped.

You: Stay low. Stay down. All the while, read the cow. Sink lower.

Your Horse: His weight remains on his hindquarters as he feels you stay quiet, still and low in the saddle. He reads the cow.

Cow: Turns and goes the opposite direction.

You: When the cow first begins to turn, you stay still. Your eyes remain on the cow. There’s a momentary “wait”. You stay low as the horse pivots 180 degrees on the “line” and comes out of the turn slightly behind the cow.

You: When you get to the 180 point, you are behind the cow … again, just for a moment.

You: Now, proactively, but accurately, you accelerate your horse on the line to get into position to stop the cow.

You: Now you’re back traveling with the cow. The cycle begins again as noted beginning at the top of this list..

NOTE: The natural tendency is to do the opposite re: rush the turn when you need to wait … and not travel in position or with authority once you are traveling on the line.

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5 Comments on “The Rhythm of Working a Cow”

  1. Hayden F Heaphy Jr on Mon, 18th Jun 2018 5:03 pm
  2. This is clear and helpful! I’ve struggled my last 6 runs from lack of patience and anticipation in the turn. Unconsciously, my upper body turns and chases the cow – ahead of my horse. This gives me a mantra to work with mentally.
    Thank you again for your always good suggestions.

  3. Connie Taverna on Mon, 18th Jun 2018 5:13 pm
  4. I really appreciate these tips and they help me a lot. Thank you!

  5. Mary on Sat, 23rd Jun 2018 1:14 pm
  6. Of course Lloyd makes everything look so easy! There was nothing outstanding, or credit-earning in his cuts, but the rythmn was definitely there and his angle and positioning on the cow are enviable.
    My trainer, Foster Johnston, has rigged the flag up to travel around 3 sides of the arena so that I have practice getting the angle right in approaching the cow. A few days ago, he “drilled down” enough that my mare was crouching under me between moves in a way that we haven’t seen before. Got a chance to sit deeper and wait!

  7. Barbra Schulte on Sat, 23rd Jun 2018 3:52 pm
  8. That’s awesome, Mary! Good for you!

  9. Judy on Sun, 16th May 2021 11:38 am
  10. Definitely an area for me to work on. I am too fast at wanting to follow the cow. Your comments are so helpful! Thanks.

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