Principles purpose and time are the tools of teaching. In other words, if the horse understands the purpose he will understand the meaning and will start putting his own thoughts and exuberance into the equation. The same applies to cows and humans!
When I was a very young man, I got a chance to work on some big ranches and with some top hands: the Reid Ranch in Yerington, NV 500,000 acres, the Moy Ranch with Ed Connell, the man who wrote the book called “The Hackamore Reinsman,” the N3 ranch, owned by the Wrigley Gum Family, and not to mention Ed Connell’s good friend, Freddie Ferrera. What I noticed was that some people drove gentle cattle to become wild and hard to handle very quickly, and a few of the really good hands could handle the wildest of cattle with little effort.
My other observation is that every great horseman and/or stockman seemed to be perpetual learners and were interested in sharing their knowledge. Ira Reid is one of the best stockman and stock dog man I have ever met. We were moving about 200 heifers in rough country about 6 miles to another part of the French Ranch to be put in with some bulls. As we drove the cattle, a few of the heifers were reluctant to travel and tried to go bush. Every time one would leave, I would get after her and bring her back within a couple of minutes. Of course I was really proud every time I accomplished this feat. Ira would say to me “Watch that heifer, she is thinking about leaving.” I said, “Don’t worry, I will get her back.” Ira then said, “Do a little something now and let her know that you know what she is thinking, and prevent her from leaving, rather than a pound of cure after she has left.” It was all about encouraging the behaviors we wanted and discouraging the ones we didn’t want.
Cattle are some of the smartest animals on the planet! They don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care, and that we are trying to do something for them and not do something to them. A gate usually means “Oh no! The cowboys are going to do something to us!” We can teach them that a gate means “Oh boy! The cowboys are taking us to some new and better grass!”
If we ride our horses with an attitude of ‘please help me train the cattle,’ our horses will see the purpose and start to communicate to the cattle the intention. This is what I mean by 3 Hearts, 3 Minds and one Harmony!
It’s a test of real savvy to be able to apply your horsemanship to the purpose of cattle handling, whether you are moving a whole herd, separating one from the herd, moving a single cow, doctoring, or trying to use your horse in one of the many competitions that use cattle.
I can’t wait to share with you this wonderful world that can open up to you at my masterclasses where we explore "wow with cows" at our working ranch in Pagosa Springs, CO, whether you bring your horse or come as an observer. Learn more about my masterclasses here: https://shopus.parelli.com/pages/courses
Keep It Natural and May The Cow Horse Be with You!