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Low Resistance Stallion Handling for Breeding

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 25, 2011 20:24

Stallion Handling for Breeding

  

Take Home Message: Directing a stallion through the performance of a specific set of low resistance manoeuvres, including backing up and circling in hand using flank pressure, is a rapid means of establishing respectful communication and control of a stallion. The low resistance manoeuvres allow the handler to proactively assess the stallion's training and manners prior to semen collection or breeding in a novel environment. 

 

Introduction: Breeding is a common activity in the equine industry. Pasture, Hand-breeding, and semen collection are all techniques used to get mares in foals. Semen is collected from stallions for breeding with fresh, cooled transported (CTS), or frozen semen. Because of the widespread acceptance of many breed associations of artificial insemination (AI)  as a breeding method and the overall acceptable pregnancy rates with this assisted reproductive technique, AI has become a common strategy for breeding. Stallion owners are often asked to provide semen shipments, even when the stallion has a small book of mares. Frozen semen remains the only practical method of preserving a stallion’s genetics. The use of CTS and frozen semen has created a growing need to provide semen collection as a routine veterinary service.

 

One option is to simply turn the mare in with the stallion in situations where handling is not an option.  However, most people believe that handling the stallion is a safer way to proceed when breeding mares. The use of AI has resulted in there being fewer stallions of higher quality. Because there are fewer and fewer stallions around the expertise for handling stallions is not as widely available.

 

Hand mating and semen collection are routine procedures for properly trained personnel, when the personnel are familiar with stallion behaviour, knowledgeable about safe conduct around mares and stallions, and have contingency plans for various outcomes or situations.  Many farms or veterinary clinics cannot financially justify the employment of a full time stallion handler, but in terms of professional liability it is advisable that a qualified individual such as a staff member or veterinarian handle stallions during the hand mating or semen collection process. Stallions are often brought to breeding facilities or veterinary clinics for hand mating and semen collection, and veterinarians are responsible for the safety of their clients, staff and the horses they work on. It is not advisable to put trust in people unfamiliar stallions, because the safety of the stallion handler, and their staff are at stake.

 

            If a person wants to learn about breeding behaviours they should spend a few days at well managed farm watching the behaviours of teasing and breeding. There they will observe that aggressive breeders need to move through the process quickly with an organized crew like a well oiled machine, but timid stallions should not be rushed and patience is required. It is essential to be aware of the normal sexual behaviours of mares and stallions.

Specifically there is also a need for stallion handlers to have a rapid means of establishing respectful communication with a stallion, while assessing the horse's training and manners prior to going to the breeding environment. The assessment process will facilitate the development of a rapport with a stallion so either the hand mating or semen collection is performed safely and efficiently.  The goal in hand mating is to provide a safe and controlled breeding for the personnel, mare and the stallion, and in the semen collection environment the goal is to obtain a high quality ejaculate in a safe and controlled manner, while providing a sexually pleasurable experience for the stallion.

            The ground manners and habits of the stallion are key to having a respectful and pleasurable interaction with the stallion. Many stallions are well mannered and tractable in their performance activity, but may not have handlers that are familiar with breeding. Typically inexperienced handlers punish normal behaviour and are often fearful and nervous around stallions. Punishing normal behaviour such as vocalizing and prancing, only confuses a stallion. Performance stallions have been taught not to show any or minimal sexual behaviour, therefore it is difficult for the performance handler to now accept the normal behaviour. Therefore the person handling the stallion for performance may not be the same one handling the horse for breeding. Stallions are quick to pick up on contextual clues and rapidly learn where and when sexual behaviour is appropriate. Using a special halter or lead, a special place for breeding are usually incorporated in the training routine to give the stallion clues that this is the right time to show sexual behaviour.

            A stallion knows what behaviour is normal and will become confused and try to escape the punishment of normal behaviour. Bad habits such as rearing and kicking may form and be left unchecked as he tried to escape. Temperamentally aggressive or mishandled stallions may have had excessive physical force applied against them in an attempt to gain control of them for other reasons.  These stallions are difficult to handle because they associate people with a fight or with pain.

Stallions fall into different categories based on experience, temperament and handling. The initial assessment includes a determination if the stallion is: well - trained, well - mannered, timid, rowdy, disrespectful, fearful, or if he has a combination of these traits. 

 

Assessment of a Stallion's Training and Manners: Training of a stallion includes basics such as accepting a halter, leading, and responding to vocal or physical cues to whoa, back, walk up, and turn while on a lead line. “Manners” is used to how a stallion responds to the handler when the various cues are given.  It is important to find out about the routine and habits of the stallion in the breeding shed prior to handling him. It is important to have a relationship with a breeding stallion as a handler.

 

Establishing a respectful relationship with a Stallion - Low resistance handling: Assessment of an unfamiliar stallion, and the establishment of a respectful relationship with him, is required of stallion handlers. A technique that we have found to be very useful is to start by haltering the stallion and depending upon his temperament, attaching a lead rope to or running a chain through the halter rings. The stallion needs to be lead to a safe area or enclosure where no mares are nearby to distract him.

 

            Once in a safe area, the handler stands on the near side of the haltered horse at the stallion's shoulder, with the lead in their right hand facing forward as if they were going to lead the horse. The handler then moves to also hold the lead with their left hand, and walks backwards away from the stallion’s shoulder towards his hind quarters keeping the lead slack. You must keep your shoulders facing forward (90 degrees to the long axis of the horse) as you walk backwards. Most horses will turn their head and look as you move past their point of balance at the shoulder. As you walk backwards more line is released until you have reached the flank area. Turn to point your midsection at the horse's flank and using your right hand push into his flank. The left hand, which is now the only hand on the lead line, is positioned on the back of your left hip. The stallion should move away from the flank pressure, and the head of the stallion should flex into the turn. This allows the handler to join in the turning movement. Pushing into his flank area coupled with light pressure to the halter, will turn the stallion in a tight circle.

            The idea is for the horse to learn that he is following you (i.e. you are the chaser, and he is the chasee) and for you to determine if the horse knows how to yield to pressure. This is a very simple method delivered using body language familiar to the horse. The body language that you are applying to the stallion indicates dominance. A dominant horse always chases a subordinate horse. Turn at least 3 circles. Stop the stallion. Many stallions if responding to the exercise will lower their head and will lick their lips.

Walk to his head standing in front of him and little to the side,  then ask him to back up by lowering your head and inside (left) shoulder pointing your midsection at the horse.  Apply light backward pressure to the halter and as you ask him to back with vocal cues. Move toward the stallion with your midsection straight and facing his hindquarters, so he will back straight. Later experiment with turning your core slightly to clue the stallion to back in a more diagonal direction, backing him in an arc. Stop him again with whoa, ask him to walk to the starting spot and change sides. Standing directly in front of a stallion is a big challenge to his authority so any head lowering and licking of his lips would be a good sign.

Repeat the movements on the far side of the horse. Some horses are “sticky” on the far or off side because they are not as accustomed to people working on that side. Be patient. Make sure the stallion is standing square. Keep your body facing forward and your shoulders square as you step backwards past his shoulder. As the stallion turns his head to look, turn into his flank and lighting push into the flank with your left hand and leave the right hand on the line positioning it on the back of your right hip. This controls the stallion’s head as you apply flank pressure. Move the stallion in tight circle 3 times.  Follow with a whoa, After the circling of the stallion on the far side the lesson continues by asking the stallion to stop, back up, and walk up again. The stallion should be praised for a job well done. 

            The goal is to see the stallion turning in a tight circle and moving away from the flank pressure in both directions. You have assessed if the "gears" (whoa, forward, back, turn) and they are working in the stallion you are ready to move to the breeding shed.

 

The stallion is being asked to yield and turn his head and neck, and move both his front and back feet. There are 2 elements here that test the training of the horse. If the horse moves away with flank pressure he has been taught to move away from pressure (push on the left flank he moves away from the pressure) this is a natural response by the horse. If the horse is halter broke and leads he has been taught to move in response to and in the direction of the pressure. He follows the pressure cue (pull on the right he follows and turns to the right). Therefore what has been described is a push and pull pressure test. By circling him and using flank pressure you test both elements simultaneously. It follows then that the horse that is not broke to lead very well balks at pressure on the halter, (he pulls back and shakes his head to free more line) because he is feeling he is trapped. A stallion that is exclusively broke to lead and has no other training, such as a halter stallion, may be confused by flank pressure. He will tend to bunny hop away from pressure or kick out. Poor manners includes signs of resistance to pressure which include the stallion: pushing back against your flank pressure (opposition reflex), moving ahead, or bunny hopping forward, shrinking away from your touch or dropping when touched, keeping his head and neck straight or stiff when you apply pressure to the halter, cow kicking, and just moving his hind feet, or laying his ears back in response to cues. A horse that has been handled with a heavy hand may aggressively lean, slam back, or cow kick at you when you exert flank pressure, which in general means these horses associate touching with pain.

If the stallion does not respond to these cues appropriately this is important to know and the stallion should not be brought to breeding shed. Additional back to basics training should be planned to fix the misbehaviour. This means slowly going back to relearn being groomed and good ground manners. A horse learns to move away from pressure more easily than he learns to yield to and follow pressure. A horse that has been broke to ride in general is familiar with both types of pressure and generally quickly learns what is expected of him.

It is common to position a stallion by backing him up and applying side or flank pressure, when he is near a mare or in front of a breeding phantom therefore these are fundamental skills required for safety. If the stallion performs these tasks successfully he is likely to be very cooperative. A cooperative stallion will lower his head following the lesson, keep his ears forward or neutral and usually licks his lips. Praise him for a job well done.

 

Common Mistakes: If you are afraid the stallion will know it. When you back up you may be tempted to turn your shoulders towards the horse, or you may fail to change hands with the lead line before you apply flank pressure, don't let the lead line out far enough when stepping backwards so you jerk on his head, or fail to move far enough back towards the flank of the horse, in which case you will not be able to turn the stallion, you will just push him away from you. You will then not get the message across about who is the boss.

            If he does not perform these tasks well he has either you are not delivering the technique very well, he has not received much successful training, he has been mishandled, or he has chosen to resist the tasks as a strategy and has poor manners. Some stallions are poorly socialized, to other horses and to people, and may need to have other interventions performed such as retraining before being ready to be handled in the breeding shed. This would involve more work on ground manners or may involve the use of a round pen, other stallions may be handled in a way that anticipates their undesirable behaviours in the breeding environment and requires timely, rapid, authoritarian actions when the horse misbehaves. Generally the discipline takes the form of a distraction where you direct the stallion’s attention to something else or a visual or auditory clue. This may mean snapping a whip on your boot, stomping your foot, speaking firmly saying no, using your hand with the end of the lead rope to make sure you maintain your space etc.

 

            Common undesirable behaviours include: rearing, pulling away, biting the handler, head throwing, pushing with the head, rearing or striking to get a front leg over the lead line to pull it out of the handler’s hands, or wheeling around kicking out or at a mare before or after breeding. All of these behaviours are undesirable and not considered breeding behaviours. The goal of these behaviours by the stallion is to either express frustration or to get away from the handler to get to the mare. None of these behaviours would be included in a controlled breeding routine. The reason they are in the stallion's breeding routine is that there was a breakdown in the training of the stallion, and the stallion may be confused and disrespectful. Some handlers elect to use minimal prior manoeuvring, and try strategically timed negative reinforcement to teach the stallion to stop the negative behaviours. Most of the stallions had developed the negative behaviours as strategies to get to the mare, and they are resistant to give them up even in the face of negative reinforcement. Trying negative reinforcement again with them in the breeding shed escalates the behaviour in some individuals as they perceive the need to fight back.  

 

Rather than being reactive and trying to institute negative reinforcement steps to change a stallion's behaviour, we have found the proactive low resistance manoeuvres approach to establishing a relationship with the stallion to be highly successful when used prior to going to the breeding environment. Praise the normal behaviours. I recommend that every time the stallion is handled for breeding the handler spends a few moments circling him to establish a routine and “make nice” before going to the breeding shed.

 

 

Claire Card DVM PhD dip ACT

 Authors' Address: Dept of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, 52 Campus Drive, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4. email: claire.card@usask.ca

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posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 7, 2011 08:58

 

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ON HORSEMANSHIP

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 4, 2011 21:51

 

By Xenophon

Translation by H. G. Dakyns 

The one best precept—the golden rule—in dealing with a horse is never to approach him angrily. Anger is so devoid of forethought that it will often drive a man to do things which in a calmer mood he will regret. (9) Thus, when a horse is shy of any object and refuses to approach it, you must teach him that there is nothing to be alarmed at, particularly if he be a plucky animal; (10) or, failing that, touch the formidable object yourself, and then gently lead the horse up to it. The opposite plan of forcing the frightened creature by blows only intensifies its fear, the horse mentally associating the pain he suffers at such a moment with the object of suspicion, which he naturally regards as its cause.

 

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Dressage Training Level Requirements

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 26, 2011 20:05

 

"Training level is your foundation - those are your basics upon which everything is built.  The five basics are:  relaxation, forward movement, regular rhythm, straightness and lastly, obedience.  That is your foundation.  In succeeding levels you don't lose any of those qualities.  You add to those qualities.  Just as a a house that isn't built on a strong foundation is going to fall in a storm, you are going to run into difficulties at some point if you haven's established those five things from the beginning."     Jane Savoie

"I like to see that the horse is in a natural carriage, meaning the walk, trot and canter he does in the test should resemble the walk, trot, and canter he does free, except that he is under control of the rider and accepting of the aids.  That allows a lot of difference in the frame of the horse, depending on his natural movement and balance.  Horses that are built more on the forehand, like the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse, should be more open, meaning traveling a little in front of the vertical,  stepping out to the reins, so that they can keep their balance.  Horses with a higher head and neck can go in a rounder frame so that they travel more through their back."             Pam Goodrich

 

 

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Xenephon's 350 B.C. Advice for Selecting a Young Horse

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 26, 2011 10:34
The ideal head of the warhorse

Many of Xenophon's suggestions below are still applied today when selecting a sport horse.

Xenophon details what is to be examined when inspecting a horse to buy as a war-mount. He is especially careful to stress the importance of soundness. His recommendations include:

  • A hoof of thick horn, and a frog that is held off the ground.
  • Pasterns that are not too straight and upright, as these will jar the rider and are more likely to become sore, nor too long and low, as they will strike the ground when galloping and will be cut on rocks.
  • Thick cannon bones
  • Good bend in the knees, as the horse is less likely to stumble or to break down
  • Thick and muscular forearms
  • Broad chest, for both beauty and because the legs will be less likely to interfere
  • A neck that is high-set and carried upward. Xenophon believed this would allow the horse to better see what was in front of him, and also make him less able to overpower the rider, because it would be more difficult to put his head down.
  • A bony head with a small jawbone, a soft mouth, and prominent eyes for good vision
  • Large nostrils, for good respiration and a fiercer appearance
  • A large crest and small ears
  • Tall withers, to help hold the rider on, and to give a good attachment between the shoulder and the body
  • A "double spine" (fleshy back), which is softer and more comfortable, as well as prettier
  • A deep, rounded side, which allows the rider to stay on more easily, and allows the horse to better digest his food
  • Broad, short loins, allowing the horse to raise the forehand and engage the hindend (Xenophon describes the ability to collect), and are stronger than long loins.
  • The hindquarters should be muscular and firm, for speed
  • The gaskins and buttocks should be well separated, so the horse stands wide behind, allowing him to be more balanced, and to give a prouder bearing
  • He should not have large testicles

Xenophon then directs the reader to look at a young colt's cannons to predict his height.

 

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350 BC Training Advice by Xenophon

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 24, 2011 19:51

Xenophon first makes a point to say that the reader should not waste his time nor endanger his health by personally breaking colts.

Before the horse is delivered to the trainer, the owner should know that he has a good temperament and gentle nature. The horse should trust people, knowing that they are the providers of food and water. If this is done correctly, the young colt should grow to love people. The groom should stroke or scratch the colt, so that he enjoys human company, and should take the young horse through crowds to accustom him to different sights and noises. If the colt is frightened, the groom should reassure him, rather than punish him, and teach the animal that there is nothing to fear.

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How do you fix it when the horse comes behind the bit?

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 24, 2011 18:41

The answer is leg and a giving hand, and the problem stems from the opposite.  With many riders who don't have instruction, riding the horse behind the vertical makes him more comfortable and maybe they feel he is light on the aids.  But it's not correct in that it puts the horse off the aids and more on the forehand.  Then what often happens is that the rider begins to enjoy sitting into his back and pushing him around.  Pretty soon the back also becomes low so you have that horrible low in the stomach and low in the poll position which is a dead-end.   by Gary Rockwell

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Tom Dorrance Wisdom

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   November 3, 2010 20:08

The part that has meant the most to the horse and me is the communication between us.  This is the part where I really had to devote a lot of thought.  I have watched horses when they are loose by themselves or loose in a group; gentle raised or wild range raised, their naturalness will show.  And by studying their actions and reactions I have been helped to understand how to present myself in such a way that the horses will respond to what I may ask of them.  This I believe is true nature. 

This is something I have had to develop in myself, for myself, by myself.  The True Unity and Willing Communication between the horse and me is not something that can be handed to someone, it has to be learned, it has to come from the inside of a person and inside of the horse.  Tom Dorrance

“Before you ever start to reach to ask your horse to do something you should have in mind what you are asking and where you are trying to direct.” Tom Dorrance  

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Choosing The Right Saddle For Your Reining or Cutting Horse

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   October 11, 2010 12:23

Choosing The Right Saddle For Your Reining or Cutting Horse


Cutting & reining trainer,
Larry Trocha

"Choosing the Right Saddle For Your Reining or Cutting Horse"

By Larry Trocha

A pro's advice about choosing a saddle that will help your performance.

Copyright © 2007-2009 Larry Trocha

I Want To Do Reining or Cutting. What Saddle Do You Recommend?

There are a lot of different brands of saddles available. Darn few of them are designed well for riding and training a performance horse.

For cutting and reining horse events, you definitely need a saddle that’s designed to help you "ride in balance and sit the stop."

First, you want a saddle that was designed and built specifically for reining or cutting. Both of these designs have their individual advantages but remember, just because the manufacturer "calls" it a reining saddle doesn’t mean it was designed "well" for reining.

The reason for this is that most saddle makers are craftsmen, not horsemen. Very few of them know how to ride a reining or cutting horse. It’s kind of like trying to design a winning race car without ever having been in a race.

Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about the different elements of a saddle and what to look for.

  • Seat: Remember, you want a saddle that will allow you to sit the stop. First of all the seat of the saddle should lay close to the horse’s back. The closer you can get to the horse the better. Anything more than a couple inches above the back is too high.

    Also, the lowest part of the seat should be near the "middle" of the seat. This low part is called the "pocket". If the pocket is too far back you’ll be forced against the cantle. Too far forward and you’ll slide up on the swells.

    On my best saddles, the "pocket" is a little bit farther back than the middle of the seat. I'd say about 2/3rds of the way back from the front.
  • Beware of too small a seat. You need enough room to slide forward and back a little. The average size woman usually needs a 16” to 16 ½” seat. The average man, 16” to 17”. Also, I personally like a seat that is built up in front. This gives a more secure ride. However, the pocket should still be near the middle of the seat.
  • Horn and swells: This is the main difference between a reining saddle and a cutting saddle. In reining your rein hand needs to be able to move unobstructed. Too high a horn or swells will get in the way. I’d want the horn no higher than 31/2”. And the swells no higher than 8”. I also like the horn to be small in diameter. In a cutting saddle, I like the swells and horn to be a little higher, around 81/2 or 9". And the horn to be tilted a little forward. Actually, here on the west coast, a lot of folks will show their reiners in a cutting saddle.
  • Stirrup Leathers: This is one of the most critical parts of the saddle, yet the most overlooked. You want the stirrup leathers hung far forward. Ideally, within a couple of inches right behind the swells.

    The reason is simple. To be able to stay balanced on a horse that stops and turns hard, you’ve got to sit down in the saddle. I mean way down. If the stirrup leathers are hung too far back, your feet will be behind your center of gravity and cause you to fall forward.

    The result will be a loss of your balance which causes the horse to come out of the stop. Also the stirrup leathers and fenders should be made of fairly thin, flexible leather. For precise leg cues, you don’t want a lot of bulk between your leg and the horse.
  • Cantle: Don’t buy one of those buckaroo saddles with an 6” high cantle. It’ll hit you in the back when you try to sit a hard stop. Quite a few of the "trail" saddles also have a steep, high cantle. Stay away from them. 31/2 inches high max.
  • Rigging: How your saddle is rigged is extremely important. And no compromise on rigging should ever be made when choosing a saddle. The saddle you want should have a Full-Double or 7/8th rigging.

    Some horses need a saddle with a 7/8 rigging. But never, ever buy a saddle that is ¾ or center-fire rigged. The saddle will slide too far forward on the horse's back.

    Look at the way a horse is built. The narrowest part of his underline is right behind the front legs (girth). This is where the cinch automatically wants to go.

    If a saddle with a 3/4 rigging is placed in the correct position on a horse's back, the position of the cinch will be back towards the horse's belly. It will just naturally migrate forward to the horse's girth area, taking the saddle forward with it.

    I also prefer the rigging Dee to be either in-skirt or dropped 3 or 4 inches below the swells (called a dropped rigging). This allows for the tree to pull down more evenly on the horse's back. Both will be less bulky and give you closer contact with your horse, too.
  • Tree: Make sure the tree fits your horse’s back. If it’s too narrow or too wide your horse won’t be comfortable. Double check to be sure there is enough clearance between the horse’s withers and the gullet (a minimum of 1”).

    A big problem with a lot of saddle trees, is that the bars don't have enough curve or bevel at the end of the bars to fit the horse's back. If your horse is a little sway-backed and the saddle tree is real straight, your horse is going to get a sore back.

    The reverse is also true. If you put a tree that has a lot of curve on a straight-backed horse, he's going to get sore. The bars must match the shape of the horses back or there will be problems.

When in doubt about a saddle, have a knowledgeable trainer take a look at how it fits your horse. His opinion might save you and your horse some grief.

To learn more about choosing the right saddle, listen to this audio clip: http://horsetrainingvideos.com/tack/saddles.htm

Good luck,

Larry Trocha

HorseTrainingVideos.com
P.O. Box 986,
Penngrove, CA 94951
Customer Service: 707-782-1183
Phone Orders: 1-800-811-4883
Contact us

Larry Trocha Training Stable
(40 min. south of Sacramento)
24846 N Tully Road
Acampo, CA 95220
Larry Trocha: 707-480-0507
Training Stable

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"Top Five Myths About Cutting Horses"

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 30, 2010 13:34

By Larry Trocha

A pro's advice about what it takes for a horse to be successful in the cutting arena.

During my career as a professional horse trainer, I’ve heard horse owners tell all kinds of reasons why they think their horse could be a winner in the cutting arena.

Unfortunately, when it comes to cow horses, a lot of folks are misinformed as to what is fact and what is fiction.

And of course, any time you're talking about horses, there are always exceptions to the rule. But, for the most part… Here are a few of the most common myths.

Myth #1. My colt should really make a great cutter.

Whenever our "dog" goes into the pasture, the colt chases him around and works him just like cutting a cow. (For the word “dog” you could substitute “goat”, “another horse”, “a person” or “whatever”).

I wouldn’t enter the colt up at the Fort Worth futurity just yet.

Here’s the usually disappointing truth…

The dog isn’t a cow… The colt is doing this without a rider on his back… And most importantly, the colt is doing this activity without any rules he has to adhere to, such as form and style of working.

In reality, there are a lot of colts that like to have fun chasing something around. It’s play, pure and simple.

It’s another thing entirely for a colt to become a cutter.

First of all, the newness of working the cow will wear off and the training will eventually become work. When the colt finds out he has to work the cow with precision, form and style, he might not want to do it.

That’s why it’s so important your cutting prospect is bred to be a cutter. If the sire and dam have the attributes to be successful in the cutting arena, the colt has a lot better chance of being successful also.

Myth #2. My colt should make a great cutter.

I rode him out to gather some cattle for the first time and he was really good. He wasn’t bothered or scared by the cattle and acted like it was nothing new at all.

Like I said earlier, there are always exceptions to the rule. But, when a colt doesn’t show much of a reaction to a cow it usually means he’s not going to be a good one.

Every top cutting horse I’ve ever trained, either was fearful of the cow and wanted to keep a safe distance from it or was aggressive towards the cow and wanted to dominate it.

The 1990 NCHA futurity champion, Millie Montana, was the dominant kind.

The very first time I worked her on a cow she wanted to take charge. Her head went down, her ears went back and everything about her body language told the cow that she was the boss.

The great NCHA world champion mare, Doc N Missy, was the exact opposite.

She was in my string when I was working for Gene Suiter in Arizona. I’ll never forget her reaction the first time I introduced her to a cow. She was so scared of it she literally tried to jump out of the arena.

The cow would be 150 feet away down at the other end of the arena, but that was too close for comfort for her. It actually took a couple months before she got confident enough to move the cow.

Myth #3. My colt should make a great cutter.

He is 99% foundation bred. His bloodlines trace back to Wimpy P1 five times on the top side and three times on the bottom. Those old foundation horses were real cow ponies.

Here's the actual facts…

Many of the old-time foundation Quarter Horses were NOT good cutting horses.

Most were either common, every-day ranch horses or competition race horses.

Now, if you own a foundation bred horse, don't take what I'm about to say the wrong way. Our topic here is modern-day "competition" cutting.

Yes, I've ridden plenty of foundation bred horses that would definitely work a cow.

King, Leo and Three Bars were the most dominant cutting horse bloodlines. There were a few others too.

But the vast majority of those old foundation horses weren't worth two cents when it came to working cattle or producing cutting horses.

If you go to any of the top cutting trainers and ask them to describe what it’s like to try to get one of these old-time “foundation bred” horses to cut, here is the answer you’ll get 9 out of 10 times:

1.      Most don’t have enough cow or intensity to make it in modern-day cutting competition.

2.      They’re difficult to train for today's type of cutting. For example, they either learn too slow to be ready for the futurity or they want to argue too much.

3.      If you manage to overcome A and B, it's still tough to win because many of them don’t have the athletic ability and style of modern-day cutting horses.

If you want your colt to be a good cutter, the least you can do is make sure he comes from bloodlines that produce good cutters. And yes, there are horses that are exceptions to the rule, but they are few and far between.

Myth #4. My colt should make a great cutter.

I’m going to put him in training with this hot shot trainer for six months and have him shown at the cutting futurity.

Actually, this is a misconception a lot of people have about training a cutting horse.

It takes a long time to get a horse to the point of being "showable" at a contest. To have a colt ready for a futurity takes a minimum of 18 months of training.

If the colt is an exceptionally fast learner, you might get lucky and have him ready in just one year. This means to have a colt ready to compete in the fall futurities as a 3year old, he needs to be started on cattle in early spring of his 2 year old year.

Owners are afraid of starting their colts that young, fearing injury to the colt from starting him too early.

In reality, a good trainer never works a young colt very hard. The idea is to give the colt a solid foundation built slowly so there is no stress. When this is done right, seldom will a colt get hurt.

Myth #5. A new owner usually thinks… "I’m going to buy my first cutting horse and take him to a show next week-end.

I should do pretty well. After all, cutting horses are trained to work on their own. The rider doesn't have to do anything but hang on".

I sure wish it was that simple. It would make my job as trainer and coach much easier. It’s true, cutting horses are trained to work on their own. However, the rider has a "big" influence on how well the horse works.

An inexperienced rider can cause even the best cutting horse to make mistakes.

The most common ones are… rounding the turns, missing the stop and being out of sync with the cow. Most new cutters don’t realize they could ruin their horse if they don’t learn to ride correctly in a relatively short period of time.

The best plan is to find a knowledgeable coach that will help you learn to ride your cutter the right way.

If you're looking for some of the best cutting videos, click here: http://horsetrainingvideos.com/cuttersonly.htm

 
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(40 min. south of Sacramento)
24846 N Tully Road
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