My mom always likes to remind me: "Jack of all trades, master of none." I've always enjoyed doing EVERYTHING possible in the horse world, whether it was dressage, eventing, reining, driving, trail, or anything else I could weasel my horse into doing.
I was just thinking about this yesterday as I drove home from a lesson on cows. I simply can't make myself just choose one thing to be really good at and focus on, I want to do it all, even if it might mean sacrificing "greatness" in one area to just be "good" in all areas. It's just too much fun.
I took Misty to JF's to do some cow work since I'm thinking of doing a ranch versatility show on Sunday, but have never actually worked cows in that context. Misty did really good. She's lacking fitness which made it hard, but she tried everything I asked of her and it was fun. She's definitely still very green in pretty much all areas, but she has a really good basic foundation in place now.
We practiced boxing, fence work and circling the cow. Oh my gosh. This is tough! I really am enjoying it though. It's new and different plus it's really challenging. I'm the kind of person that always wants to be challenged, probably part of the reason I can't make myself settle on one discipline. I get bored. But there's so much new stuff to learn about doing cow work. You have to read the cow and know what they're going to do before they do it. You have to get your horse really in tune with your aids so they can go from a halt to a gallop in a second flat, or come to a screeching halt and spin around the other direction. Then you have to put it all together and get it done.
Circling is DEFINITELY the hardest. You have to position the horse on the cow just right so that you can make the cow turn in a circle, without allowing them to turn and spin the other direction or run away from you. The smaller the better, because then your horse doesn't have to run as fast. Basically you're trying to make the cow pivot 360 degrees, then you reverse. You have to keep your horse's nose by the cow's neck to keep them moving forward and turning, if you get too far back by their hip then they'll just run away from you, but if you get up by their head then they'll turn around and go the wrong direction.
Anyways, it was a good lesson. We spent about two hours playing with the cows and I got a lot of great tips and homework. Can't wait to get to work on it!
Here's an example of working cow horse. First they do a reining pattern, then they do the cow work. I thought this horse was quite a nice example of how to get it done (in my very limited experience). Start at the 2:30 mark for the cow stuff. First is boxing, which is just getting the cow to go back and forth, just showing how you can control it. Then they fence the cow, run it all the way down, turn it, run it back, and turn it again. Then circling, when you bring it off the wall and make it circle 360 in each direction.