If you have a strong horse that doesn't circle real strong, you need
to take another turn on the fence. Don't try to go to the middle with a lot of
cow because there's nothing worse than seeing someone going around and
around like they are at the end of a whip trying to get there and they can't.
It is best to put your last turn in the center of the fence and circle in
the middle of the arena. That way, the magnet of the out gate isn't quite so
strong, and you stand a better chance of getting your cow circled.
osing the cow
If you're circling and decide to change directions when the cow
is aimed toward the fence, there's a really good chance it's going to beat you
to the fence. If it does, you have to go scoop it off the fence again, and that's
a 1-point penalty for the loss of working advantage.
You can avoid that penalty by changing directions when the cow is
aimed toward the middle of the arena. Then, you've got more room to catch
it if you lose it.
But if you do lose control of the cow and it gets to the fence and you
have to pry it off, step in front of it to bring it off the fence. Also, remember
which way you already circled.
There are a few things you can do if you miscalculated your
cow. A lot of times, cattle will run down the fence and act like little pups.
Then, when you go to circle, they grab another gear.
If you start to circle and the cow pours on the coal, you can kind of
come around with it and turn it back on the fence again. It's like your sort of
made a loop again.
There's nothing that says you can't do this, and it sure beats running
around and around trying to catch the cow.
The other thing that you can do is switch sides.
If you start off circling to the right and realize it isn't going to happen
because the cow is getting way ahead and veering right, you can switch over
to the other way first. You're not in a penalty situation if you head right up
into that circle and switch sides. You're still OK, and you've saved potentially
going around and around and around to get your cow caught.
Sometimes you'll be circling and have gotten all the way around and
find yourself ahead of the cow and end up turning it back before you really
meant to. If you are quick and slick enough to turn you horse right there and
go back and circle the other way, it doesn't appear that you overshot and you
may not get a 1-point penalty for loss of working advantage.
That's one of those things that you have to be real quick on your feet.
If our cow falls down or lays down when you're circling, you
must still ride around it even while it's on the ground in order for the judge to
whistle a complete patter. So if the cow won't get up, go ahead and just go
around the cow. You have at least fulfilled that part of the pattern.
You're not going to be credited for circling, but you're not going to get
zeroed for quitting before your prescribed routing.
hOW Well YOU reAD The cOW AnD YOUr ABiliTY TO
geT YOUr hOrSe TO The righT SPOT AT The righT TiMe inFlU-
enceS The AMOUnT OF cOnTrOl YOU hAVe in YOUr rUn. You
must interpret the action as it unfolds and react to it immediately. But to
develop split-second responses, you have to show.
Practicing at home, your friends' houses or your trainers' isn't the same
as showing. You have to go to your horse shows and do it.
AQHA shows are very affordable. We take a lot of our young horses
and non-pros to AQHA shows to get them put together without spending a
Even if you draw a bad cow and have had a bad run, think of it as a
AQHA Professional Horseman Sandy Collier is the only
woman to win the National Reined Cow Horse Association World
Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship. She is an AQHA
World Champion and International clinician and judge and was inducted into
the Cowgirl Hall of Fame last year.
To learn more of Sandy's secrets to effortless flying lead changes, visit
her horse training videos page. In "Sandy's Magic Bag of Tricks," Sandy
demonstrates the drills her horse must master before she asks for a flying
(This article condensed and reprinted by permission of Sandy Collier,).