horse working cattle cowgirl magazine

Whether for pleasure or work, exposing your horse to cattle can be an interesting experience. Some horses seem unfazed, while others become anxious and spooky. In order to keep your horse calm, try to take things slow. Don’t put too much pressure on them, instead try to make it a fun event.

Before the Cattle

There are a few things your horse should know before you even introduce a cow to them.

  1. Stop
  2. Stand still
  3. Turn

These basic commands are absolutely necessary. Make sure your horse is soft and light. They should response to your aids easily. Furthermore, they should be able to stand still in any type of environment.

Start on the Ground

Many ranchers tie up their horse near a group of cattle. This gives the horse an opportunity to see and hear them ahead of time. They usually progress by leading the horse into an enclosed pen with a few cattle. Keep them in front of the horse like a game of follow the leader. You can gently ask the cattle to move forward with the horse following behind.

The first few sessions should be short, roughly 10-15 minutes.

In the Saddle

Once your horse is confident and comfortable, you can try the exercise in the saddle. You may want to keep it even simpler with just one cow. Keep your horse on the same track as the cow. You should instruct your horse to follow their movement and speed.

After a few minutes, stop your horse and make them stand still. Once your horse is standing relaxed, you can trot back up to the cow and continue tracking it.

Your horse may get nervous, excited or could care less. Make sure you know how to handle a hot horse. It could mean slowing down or getting their mind on something else. With time, they’ll become more and more confident!