Working Cattle With Your Horse
The image of a cowboy on a horse herding cattle on a drive is one that many
filmgoers know well. It seems a throwback to a time long past but is, in reality, still a part of our
lifestyle today. Drives exist in both the United States and Australia. Here are some tips for preparing
your horse to work with cattle and for working cattle with your horse. The goal is to desensitize your
horse to the fear of being around cattle and to make them comfortable following your commands even in the
case of a disaster such as a stampede.
1. Start Getting Them Used to Cows. The younger you start, the easier this
will be. Stable your potential working horse within sight and sound of the cattle, shifting them closer and
closer until they live in adjacent pens. Take your time to do this. You want your horse to be comfortable with
them, not worried.
2. Walk your horse among the cattle every single day with a halter and lead.
Let them stretch as far from you as they can so they can smell and greet at their own pace.
3. One by one over a course of days, introduce different cattle to your horse
so they can become familiar with one another. Don't let your horse chase the cow, but neither should you let
the cow spook your horse. Keep the two together until your horse is calm and relaxed.
4. Work with your horse on learning the different cattle commands and then
practice with him by riding outside the fence. This will give you a chance to work some of the commands and
your horse a chance to be near the cattle while you are riding.
5. Let your horse spend sometime with some other cattle horses before you try
to work cattle on your own. It will learn from the other horses and it will see that there is nothing to be
afraid of. It may seem silly that a horse is afraid of cows, but both are large animals and your horse may
simply need the extra reassurance of some fellow horses before they are ready to relax.
Finally you should be ready to try working the cattle with your horse. Let
your horse into the pen and ask it to stand quietly while the cattle approach. Once they are comfortable, begin
slowly moving your horse through the herd; you can allow your horse to sniff or lick but do not allow it to
bite or nip. Once your horse is able to navigate through the entire herd without incident you will be ready to
begin working both your horse and your cattle. Remember! It is a process to train any animal. Do not rush
through this process of you could cause damage to yourself, your horse, or your cattle. Patience will bring the
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