Thursday, August 1, 2013

Discipline ADD

Gah, there's too many fun disciplines to do and not enough time!

I really would do it all, if I could do everything well and had enough time to fit it all in.

I took Misty to a sorting practice yesterday. Since she's supposedly a ranch horse, I decided that we needed to test this out!


My trainer JF (well ok, I call her my trainer but I haven't actually taken a lesson with her for almost three years, but she has been my main trainer and greatest support throughout high school) is the one that ran the practice. She's recently really gotten into doing the cow stuff and has a couple herds now. She stayed on the ground and instructed everyone. She told me that I needed to get rid of Misty's dressage saddle and make her my cow horse!

If you don't know what sorting is, it's where you basically have two round pens that are connected in the middle, kind of like a figure 8. You have a herd of cows numbered 0-9 with two unmarked cows (the "dirty" ones). You and a partner go in the pen and start out in the middle (the "hole"), all the cows are in one of the two pens. The judge will call out a number. You go get that cow while your partner keeps all the other cows out of the other pen. Once you get your cow into the other pen, your partner goes and gets the next cow. For instance if 4 was the number you were supposed to get first, then the next cow would be 5. You do this as fast as possible since you only have 60 seconds to get as many cows in the correct order as possible. The goal is to get all of them, but to keep the dirty cows out. If the dirty cows get through the middle, then you're done.

Bringing the cows up to the arena from the pasture.

Misty was awesome. She's definitely cowy. She listened well and got a little aggressive (in a good way). By the end, she definitely knew her job - cut out the cow I told her to, then run it back to the middle, stop and spin and defend the hole!

It's not the first time I've done it since I've done it with Jazz a couple times and I've ridden JF's husband's horse Calvin who by the way is SUPER fun. But it was awesome to have such a cowy horse that was mine and I can't wait to do it again. And I learned a few new things:

  • Don't stand right in the hole, come out further so you have more room to defend the hole
  • Stare at the cows you don't want when you're in the hole. If you look at the cow that's supposed to be coming through, chances are he'll turn back. Kind of the same idea that your horse will refuse a jump if you stare at it.
  • Keep your horse's hip straight. If they're not straight, cows know that you won't be able to move quickly enough to keep them out of the hole.
  • If you're going after a certain cow that is glued in the middle of a pack of three, don't wait for them to separate, charge in there and get it done!
 A bunch of them are doing a ranch versatility show this weekend and tried to get me to come with. While it would have been perfect since Jetta is temporarily out of commission (I was planning on going to a one day horse trial), I decided that we're just plain not ready. But, I plan on going to watch so I can figure out how it works and cheer on everyone I know!

There's 4 divisions: western pleasure, reining, trail and cows. Misty isn't really finished in ANY of those areas so I don't want to go and fail miserably. But that being said, a friend of mine is riding his mule through... While Bailiff is an AWESOME mule, he isn't exactly quick on his feet though he does try. So we certainly wouldn't be the worst there ;) Though I could take Jazz because she is finished in all of those areas... However, I would like to do a ranch versatility competition with Misty someday though, so here's what we need to work on for it.

  • Reining: 
    • Flying changes - I don't know if she does these because I've never asked, but I doubt it, so they need to be installed. 
    •  Stops - she needs to learn to tuck her butt and stop without flinging her head
    • Roll backs - non-existant
    • Spins - kind of sort of? She gets upset then gets discombobulated when I ask her to increase her speed
  • Western pleasure - this is a pattern class
    • Head set - low neck, but not quite as low as "real" western pleasure. More natural
    • Jog trot
    • Work on transitions between collected and extended gaits
    • Lope - non-existant
  •  Trail
    • Make it look "pretty", still rough around the edges at this point
    • Get it so we can do things on a loose rein
    • Sidepassing logs
  •  Cows
    • Basically everything. While I have a general idea of how to fence, box and circle a cow, I have absolutely zero practical experience. I'm sure we could get it done semi-well, but I'm sure there's a lot of little things I need to learn in order to do it correctly. 

So yeah, that's what you have to look forward to reading about! I think I'm going to go again next Wednesday to the sorting practice. Maybe we'll get a chance sometime to work cows outside the sorting pen and learn this whole fence-work-boxing-circling thing. And I'm planning on taking Misty cross country schooling sometime in the next week or so. Then next weekend is the second trail competition!


  1. I love that your horses are so well-rounded!

  2. Love love the working ranch horse stuff! I bet Missy will be great at it with some practice.

  3. I am sooooo jealous!!! I wish there was more stuff like that around here. Must. Investigate. Further.

  4. Well rounded for sure! I would be lost trying to do something like that!

  5. Not sure if this class has made it to open shows or breed associations other than AQHA yet, but if you get good at the Western Pleasure part of versatility ranch horse, you should try Ranch Horse Pleasure!

  6. Sounds fun! I'm excited to hear more. We do a lot of western stuff where I live.

  7. This is exactly the sort of thing I want to try! How fun!!! And how awesome that Misty is good around cows. I can't wait to hear more and see more pictures!

  8. I'm so excited to have found a western'y blog. There aren't enough out there! I'm in the middle of attempting to train my previously bucking bronco/Western Pleasure/lesson horse for Western or Ranch Pleasure. Preferably Ranch. ;) I'd love to sort, but I think my horse would be more of the, "LET ME BE YOUR FRIEND, COWS!" type, wouldn't be aggressive enough.. Haha! Good luck with all of your goals, mine are super similar, so I look forward to reading more posts on how you tackle all of them. :)