Angling for Better Position

Your location will help you “train” your cow in the fence work.

In the working cow horse, strategy can make the difference between handling your cow efficiently and letting her run down the rail without you.

Everything starts with a little mental exercise. If you can think like the cow, you can be ready to handle whatever she throws your way.

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Opening Gambit

The point of boxing is to teach the cow to honor your horse. To do that, you need to “train” the cow to move away from your horse when you’re in her eye.

If you are halfway down the pen when you call for the cow, you give the cow time to come to you, and a bad cow will run by you.

I like to sit about 50 feet from the end of the arena so that when the cow steps into the arena, the first thing she sees is me moving toward her. When she sees me, she’ll veer, forcing her to honor the horse before she does anything else.

If you’re on a good horse with some “cow” that wants to work, this trick gives your horse an opportunity to take hold of the cow right away – and you also get the judges’ attention quickly.

I don’t come at the cow face-on. When I’m placed at an angle, it encourages the cow to go to the corner. Once the cow is headed in the right direction, I can run to stop her, and then I have taught her that I can stop her.

She’s going to turn away from me, so the next thing I do is bump my horse over parallel to the cow. I get in front of her and stop her again.

Train the Cow

While we’re boxing, we’re teaching the cow to stop and honor us every time we get in her eye. Normally, if we get the cow stopped three or four times, it’s time to go down the fence.

If you have trained the cow well during the boxing, the long fence run is just an extension of the boxing. When the cow sees your horse in her eye, she should stop and turn. She’s going to honor you down the fence if she has honored you on the end.

Parallel is important to remember. If you turn away from the cow, you give her an opening to get by. If you stay in a straight line, you can cut her off.

If you let the cow learn she can push you, soon she’ll be pushing you down the pen and she’ll get away, so you’ll have penalties for loss of control.

When you let the cow run down the fence, give her some room, but stay right on her heels, parallel to her. When you’re ready to stop, angle into her eye. It’s the same as when you were boxing; you’re just going faster.

Create a situation where the cow’s natural veer is away from you. Once you get the angles figured out, it’s easy to stop good cattle. Bad cattle aren’t going to stop anyway.

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