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.
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.