34 Issue 3 · 2013
encing the cow
The TrAnSiTiOn FrOM BOXing TO
STArTing DOWn The Fence cAn MAKe Or BreAK
YOUr WhOle rUn.
If you are lagging behind the cow when you leave ant
that cow comes off the fence underneath you horse's neck,
that's really hard to recover from.
If you leave and the cow just takes off and you're not
quite quick enough, it can get such a lead on you that by
the time you overtake it you're going twice as fast as the
cow. It's then hard not to go by it and get at least a 1-point
penalty for going a full-length past the cow.
Or you could be too quick out of the corner and end
up turning the cow before the middle marker which is an-
other 1-point penalty.
All of those things can happen if you don't read the
situation right and if your horse isn't broke to that little spot
right where you leave to go down the fence and doesn't
listen and wait on you
eaving the Box
Most horses get anxious leaving the boxing situation and start
down that long wall. He wants to go because he knows he is about to go fast,
and he doesn't wait and listen to you.
I spend a lot of time at home making a horse do that. If he leaves the
corner and pushes on me to go faster and sooner than I want, I shut him
down, lope down and do it again. He then gets desensitized to leaving the
corner and wait on the rider.
If you leave with the cow, you won't have to catch it, and then if it de-
cides to come off the fence, you're right there. But if you leave behind the
cow, you don't have any options but to chase it down, and the cow is then
controlling your run.
When I leave to go down the fence, my strategy is usually to get a nice
long run for the first turn and a fairly nice run back for the second turn that is
maybe not quite as far.
If you have a cow that will make three turns, that's pretty good and
pretty safe. If the cow has already shown it is getting weak and not giving
you enough speed to credit your circles, then you are probably better off
taking two turns.
If that's the case, make sure you go real long to your first turn and come
back and get your second turn somewhere near the middle, so you don't end
up having to circle by the cattle chutes. It's not too easy to lose the cow to
the fence down there.
If you nail that first turn - I mean, really, really nail it, - a lot of
things can be overlooked. As a judge, that first turn is a huge portion of your
run contend. In other words, if you boxed great and you circled great but you
miss your first turn, you can't mark very high. I don't care how good the rest
of your run is.
You can do everything right in that first turn and have a cow come
off the fence and head into the arena. But, it
usually happens when the horse goes past
the cow or doesn't get out of the turn quickly.
Losing the cow will happen less if your
horse is trained to pick up his shoulder up
and jump out and away and trap the cow
against the fence again.
If you went by the cow, it's a 1-point
penalty for each length your horse runs past
But if you were in the right place at
the right time, and you didn't go past your
cow and you still lose it off the fence, you
shouldn't receive a 1-point penalty for loss of
If your cow comes off the
fence, then you need to use the loop to bring it back and make your second
turn (see graphic on this page). Otherwise you'll charge down the middle of
the arena with the cow and either have to do an open field turn, which very
few horses and even fewer riders do well or you'll find yourself at the end of
the arena without a right turn and you'll have to drive your cow all the way
back up again to turn left and try again. Unfortunately, what a cow does
once, it will usually not do twice.
There aren't many cows who can take four runs up and down the fence
and still have enough to circle.
What's best if they come off the fence like that is to force them to make
a loop. You just circle and push the cow back around to the fence. Then you
are shaped up for your right-hand turn.
The loop in itself is not a penalty unless you lose working advantage.
With the loop, you are sort of resurrecting your run.
If you need to make the loop then you need to make sure you are the
cause of that cow looping back and getting set up and going down the fence.
That way, you are in control and the judge won't penalize you for loss of
working advantage as you set up your next turn.
In the first turn, you're going the fastest, so it's the toughest one to nail.
But sometimes the second is the hardest to set up.
ircling the cow
ALTHOUGH THAT FIRST TRY IS SO, SO IMPORTANT, FIN-
ISHING STRONG IS IMPORTANT TOO. For a high credit run, you need a
good deal of difficulty at the end. You want to nail those circles by having
your horse moving along fast and tight.
In a high degree of difficulty where you're going to mark a high score,
you want to go to the middle with a lot of cow.
Again, that's one of the places where you show your horse.
vs Bad Cows
By Sandy Collier