Learning the Bubble
Are you and your horse new to cattle and versatility ranch horse?
November 6, 2010
From The American Quarter Horse Journal
Each cow has a “bubble” or “area of influence” around them.
When a horse enters the bubble, the cow takes some action. The size of the bubble is different for each cow. Some cows will allow the horse to be next to them before they take action. Other cows are so sensitive that they will move away at a much greater distance – even from 15 feet away.
The action that the cow takes is determined by where the pressure is exerted. If the horse exerts pressure on the cow’s hip, the cow will most likely go forward. If the pressure is exerted on the cow’s nose, the cow will most likely turn. The cow will generally stop if the horse is blocking its eye, but not if the horse is so far forward that it is beyond the cow’s head.
You can anticipate what the cow will do – it’s called “reading the cow” – by getting a feel for the size of the cow’s bubble, exerting pressure on the part of the cow that will result in the wanted action, and by looking at the head and shoulders of the cow.
Dive into the vaquero tradition! Learn from the late Bill Van Norman, an expert on vaquero training methods. In the Vaquero Horse Training Tips report, Bill takes you through the basics of vaquero horse training, focusing largely on the unique tools of the trade.
Watching the direction the cow turns its head, which way the cow looks and the direction the ears turn are helpful indicators of what the cow will do next.
When you are first learning cattle control, the cow is a big black or brown blob that you are following around. Once you learn to focus on the head, eyes and ears, you start to be more effective in reading the cow and anticipating what the cow is going to do.
Put the Bubble to Work
An exercise that helps you learn to read and control the cow involves putting a cow on the rail in an arena, with the objective of keeping the cow traveling in the same direction all the way around the arena.
If the cow stops, you learn how and where to put pressure to move it to get forward motion. If the cow tries to turn back, you learn how and where to move to block the turn. This exercise serves as the most basic step to learning to control a cow.
AQHA Professional Horsewoman Gerrie Barnes and her husband, Jeff, own and operate Barnes Ranch, a multipurpose equine event facility in Larkspur, Colorado. They offer a variety of western riding instruction, clinics and cattle practices for entry-level to advanced riders. Popular clinics, including the versatility ranch horse skill-building program, introduce horses and people to cattle work and roping.
A former teacher and business owner, Gerrie has put her experience to good use as a clinician and coach. Jeff is a construction manager with a horse background in guest ranches, outfitting, horseback hunting trips and ranching. He is also a successful versatility ranch horse competitor.
Build a solid foundation with your horse. Learn from the late Bill Van Norman, an expert on vaquero training methods. In the Vaquero Horse Training Tips report, Bill takes you through the basics of vaquero horse training, focusing largely on the unique tools of the trade.