Take a Drive Up The Middle by Barbra Schulte
Driving up and away from the body of the herd can be a challenge. Here are some basics to keep in mind in good cattle and in difficult cattle.
- When you enter the body of the herd, you cause a natural movement of a few, or a lot of cattle away from the back fence. How many cattle, of course depends on the situation. Be aware that your entry into the body of the herd causes a “disturbance” of their resting state and a movement towards the middle of the arena. The amount of movement depends on how much energy you exert as well as if the cattle are fresh or not.
- The natural movement of cattle forward (caused by you entering the herd) is THE PRIME opportunity for you to move the number of cattle you desire forward with the least amount of resistance from the herd. It’s like getting on the train. The cattle are moving, so it is THE time to move with them.
- The goal is to get them way out there! By way out there, I mean 20 feet plus away from the resting body of the herd. Again, every arena is different and that 20 feet number is arbitrary. Drive out as far as possible in that same rhythm of “getting on the train”.
- Ideally, you want a group of cattle way out there so as they are peeling away, you can make subtle moves to control the flow or cut your cow. When you put your hand down, you want to be standing still or moving gracefully up and into the cow you are cutting. You don’t want to struggle to cut a cow by shoving and pushing to drive forward at the same time you need to put your hand down.
- As you drive up, your horse should feel willing and cautious at the same time. Your horse should ideally feel confident in your guidance primarily with your feet, and at the same time ready to load his or her hindquarters when you release your feet. The hindquarters should load automatically when you take your feet out so that the first lateral move back and forth is on the horse’s hindquarters and not on his or her front end.
- As you drive up you are in the head and neck area of the cow you cut so you don’t start working out of position. SUPER IMPORTANT.
- Now that all is under control, put your hand down with graceful authority. Review these steps over and over in your mind. Drive up as you take advantage of the cattle moving forward when you enter the herd. Get the cow and your horse set up. Begin with grace even on a fast cow. Remember, what you think about and visualize is what will come to pass eventually. Beware of practicing fearful cuts in your mind.
Barbra is a personal performance coach for all riders, a cutting horse trainer, author, speaker, clinician and 2012 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Inductee. Visit her Blog and signup to receive her FREE monthly email newsletter, “News From Barbra”.