Horse Training for the Fence Work

Angled positioning will help you get better fence work.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal.

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

Right From the Start

The point of boxing is to teach your 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, the cow has time to come to you, and a bad cow will run by you.

Watch as the pros analyze reining and cow horse performance to learn to critique your own runs. In AQHA's "Working Cow Horse" DVD, Bobby Ingersoll, Don Dodge and Al Dunning offer their expert advice for training for cow horse events.

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 you moving toward her. When she sees you, 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 every time we get in her eye and to honor us. 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.

Bobby Ingersoll, Don Dodge and Al Dunning share their expertise on the working cow horse class in the "Working Cow Horse" DVD. Don talks of the working cow horse's origin, while Bobby and Al explain and demonstrate basic training techniques for a prospective working cow horse.

When you let the cow run down the fence, give her some room, but stay right on her heels, parallel to her.

When you are ready to stop, then angle into the cow’s eye. It’s the same as 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.

AQHA Member Benefit Spotlight

American Quarter Horse Association members receive great discounts from Quarter Horse Outfitters, including discounts on apparel, books, toys, home decor items and more. Now, you can purchase informational videos such as "Working Cow Horse" at a discounted price! Join now to start saving.

AQHA Video

Watch "How to Work a Cow" featuring Mike Major: