C Lazy U, Part 3

Good day!

I am enjoying another perfect summer day here at home. Even managed to get caught up on some gardening projects and household chores. I have one more major reorganization project to tackle here in the office, then it’ll be time for a ride.

I’d better finish the Memorial Day weekend story or I’ll soon be more than a week behind my life. My last post took us to the middle of the second day of VRH clinics and our turn at the Working Cow clinic. We were thrilled to have one of the top clinicians in the country, Sandy Collier of Buelltin CA, www.sandycollier.com .

Sandy has a talent for getting a lot of information across in a short amount of time. She explained the procedures for “boxing” the cow on the end of the arena and showing how your horse can control the cow (it’s similar to cutting except that there is only one cow and you are holding him on the fence). In VRH, after you have boxed your cow, you take him down the long wall of the arena, past the middle marker, turn him back on the wall, run him past the middle marker again and turn him again. This usually is high-speed and thrilling (or sheer terror for some).

Before starting the live-cow work, we did an exercise with two horses—one rider pretending to be the cow, one being the horse/rider herding the cow. I discovered that this exercise only works when your partner knows how to act like a cow 😉 but it helps you gel the theory in your mind before trying it on a cow.

We practiced moving the cow by putting your horse’s nose at his flank and circling the cow by putting your horse’s nose at the cow’s ear. I learned a key exercise for my chargey, over-zealous cow horse that relates back to what I learned about him in the cutting clinic—the reward is the cow. If Dually makes a frantic charge at the cow, instead of stealthily sneaking up behind him to turn him, I immediately take him off the cow, put him directly behind the cow and just let him push the cow around the rail into the corners. We’ll continue at that pace, just following the cow, until he is relaxed and then try sneaking up on the cow again. Every time he gets chargey, we start following the cow, pushing him down the rail instead of turning. Once he makes two good turns on the cow, we quit.

Still trying to preserve my horse’s back for the schooling competition the next day, I only worked him once on a real cow. I was proud of my determination not to over work him, but as I took him back to the trailer I had a nagging concern that I perhaps had not worked him enough and he would be too fresh tomorrow. But since Dually was on a heavy dose of Alleve, I felt it prudent to err on the side of caution since twice before I have been unable to compete on him after a two-day clinic.

I tried this rail work exercise yesterday, training here at home, and it worked great! We also roped a little and I had two good catches and stops J I guess I am going to have to finish his story in a fourth part, because now I have to get some work done and so I have time to ride my horse. Next I’ll share what competition day is like in VRH and let you know how we all did at the competition.

Until then, ride safely!


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Nuttin’ But Cuttin’

JulieGoodnight.com Logo


Its been a fun and relaxing weekend for both Rich and me, although our boys, Tucker and Dually, probably couldve thought of better things to do. Weve been at Cactus Creek Ranch, between Pueblo and Colorado Springs, for the annualNuttin but Cuttin clinic, sponsored by the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association and organized and executed by our good friends, Tim and Cindy Rose.

Friday morning I put a good work on Dually before we left since I was gone all week and he hadnt been ridden. Although he gets turned out and longed when I am out of town, its not quite the same thing as working him. Hes a horse that needs steady work to stay mellow and focused. After 4-5 days of no riding at all, hes a little hot under the collar. But a good hard workout usually changes his tune substantially. Then after a nice bath for the two boys, we were on the road.

The NVRHA clinics and competitions are always fun, with quite a bit of socializing thrown in for good measure. The people that are regulars become good friends and thenew hires are always welcomed with open arms and the offer of a good cold beer. Its a diverse group of peoplesome experienced riders with accomplished horses and some just starting out on whatever horse they happen to have. Some young, some olda nice even split between men and women.

This particular clinic is strictly ranch cuttingno competitionand only two days. There were three clinicians: Anne Hutchinson of Oklahoma, Jay Hensen of Kansas and Gary Campbell of Colorado, and a total of 140 head of cattle. We worked a half day with each clinician, then for the last half of the day on Sunday we rode through a mock class, just like its done in competition.

I got some excellent work on Dually. As always, hes a little fresh at first and requires some correction to get his mind right. Hes so cowy and quite athleticable to make some really big moves on a cowso it is sometimes hard to contain his enthusiasm. But once he realizes he has to fly right, hes all business. Nursing along his back injury is always a little tricky for me, but this weekend he worked really well and felt great.

Rich had some really nice works on Tucker too. Both of our horses are excellent cutters but it is always hard to let go of them and let them do their jobs. Laying your hand down on his neck once youve put him on the cow is a hard thing to do but you have to trust him to do his job and then correct him when he ,makes a mistake. Cutters are supposed to work with little or no guidance from the rider. But everyone gets trapped into thinking their horse is going to make a mistake and trying to prevent it by guiding him through the whole thing.

The problem with that is two fold: one, your horse will never learn to do it on his own if you are constantly micromanaging him. Two, no horse can learn anything unless you let him make a mistake and then correct him. We all learn through our mistakes (hopefully). I talk about this a lot in my clinicslet him make a mistake and then fix itdont try to prevent the mistake in the first place.

Speaking of clinic, next weekend Ill be teaching a clinic at this exact same location, Cactus Creek Ranch. The clinic benefitsRenees Friends a group that raises money for breast cancer research. I hope there will be lots of people and I know we will all have a good time!

All the best,


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