8 Reasons to Quit a Cow

8 Reasons to Quit a Cow

Quitting a cow is one of those crucial decisions you make at the spur of the moment when you show in cutting or in herd work classes. This article is about helping you make good decisions about when it’s time to decide if you should quit … or not.

But first, here are a few generalities regarding “good, mediocre and bad” cattle.

If your cow is “good” has she been maximized … that is, did you get all the credit-earning work out of her yet?

A good cow faces your horse and goes back and forth for 15-30 feet at a medium speed in the middle of the arena. She has “feel” which means she stops and goes the other direction when you get into the correct position to stop her. The ideal cow never darts toward the turn back people, the herd holders, the back fence or the side walls of the arena.

If your cow is “mediocre,” is she worth staying on for what you need to accomplish in your run as a whole?

Typically this kind of cow wanders around a lot or stays out away from you. She’s not that interested in you and your horse or even interested in getting back to the herd. She also might move at a rather slow speed so she doesn’t give you a chance to earn credit. She’s “safe” but not not run building.

If your cow is “bad,” is the only smart thing to do quit and get another cow?

This could be a cow that doesn’t move, doesn’t respect your horse or who runs all over the arena. Normally, you need to quit that kind of cow immediately.

Here are eight reasons to consider quitting a cow.

1.) She starts off well, but then darts hard towards one of the corners.

The key word here is darts. You can bet that the next time she comes back in the same direction, she will try even harder to get to the corner and/or return to the herd. That cow is no good. Do your best to stop her and quit working her as soon as possible.

2.) She is numb.

She stands there and your turn back helpers are yelling and slapping their chaps. She barely moves. Quit.

3.) She is crazo!

Her tail goes up and maybe over her back. She is on a mission to go anywhere at jet speed and get by any horse she can. She might aim at the turn back horses or just run around wildly in the arena.

If she is super wild and you keep working her, even if she’s not coming in your direction, chances are she’s going to turn on you sooner or later and come at you hard! Stop working her.

4.) She starts off like an ideal cow, but then starts moving in any direction out of the middle of the arena sweet spot. She may not be that bad, but chances are you’ve gotten all of the good stuff out of her and she’s not coming back to stage center. The choice to stay on her depending upon other factors, like how good or bad the cattle are as a group, how much time you worked your first cow, etc.

5.) She starts running from wall-to-wall. It’s time to quit.

6.) She tries to get through the turn back helpers. Thumbs down.

7.) She snorts at you! Quit ASAP.

8.) From the very beginning she has absolutely no interest in your horse.

She wanders from one place to another … everywhere but in the vicinity of you and your horse. She may or may not be that “bad,” but without you and your horse being able to really affect her behavior and stop her, you won’t be able to earn a lot of credit while working her. Again, it’s your call whether to quit her or work her a little bit longer, depending on other factors.

A great way to practice deciding when to quit is to watch cattle from the bleachers during other classes. As you watch, regardless of what the cutter does, decide when you think it is the best time to quit.

How to Find the Courage

How to Find the Courage

It’s a common thing to love what we do, but settle for less than what we really want to achieve.

By that I mean we allow our past results to dictate how we see our future potential.

If you see yourself in terms of past mistakes and disappointments, most of the time you will continue to do the same. And, by the way, we all tend to do this.

Often this limited view of yourself makes you feel sad, and less than enthusiastic. You might settle into a quiet resignation that things will never change.

You settle for less.

I do understand it can be difficult to see yourself achieving the success you deserve and desire. Many times it’s because your view is blocked by reasons why … try as you might … you believe you just can’t do things differently.

However … the past NEVER equals the future.

There is a fun way to think of future success that can stir a new belief about what can be for you.

This may sound a tiny bit odd, but here goes.

Tell a story about yourself in the third person … as if you’re speaking of someone else.

It might go something like, “Once upon a time, there was a fun loving young girl (or guy) named, ___________ who LOVED horses. In her youth she got to do ________ and ________. And then later on x, and x, and x, and x.”

(Of course this person is you.)

Bring your story up to date.

Now, you’re ready to tell yourself “what happens in the future.” This is where you tell the future story with details that excite you.

” (name) decided one day to break out of feeling stuck. She saw herself doing what she really loved.

She decided to never let adversity dampen her spirit. She used obstacles as opportunities to grow ever wiser and stronger.

She took risks. She designed a riding life she loved, which was ___________. She went on to ________________.

She got feedback and instruction from __________. She practiced new mental tools to stay calm and focused. She always saw herself as an awesome rider.

She was so excited to not listen to those voices in her head that told her she couldn’t do what she loved in the way she loved to do it.

She told herself that she was enough … and that it was all about HER journey … and not how things were judged on the outside.

She became creative. She asked for help. She never gave up. She loved her riding life. She went on to __________.”

As you dare to tell a story to yourself … about yourself … in the third person … that will make you smile. All of a sudden those things seem possible.

Most importantly, you will feel enthusiastic again.

Live, and relive, and relive that story in your mind as if you’ve already achieved it.

This simple story telling tool can light a spark of new belief in unlimited possibilities for you.

Perhaps your story will come true … perhaps it won’t. But to be sure, whatever version comes true, you will have the joy of a moment-to-moment journey. And who you are becoming … and the magnificence of the journey … is what it’s all about.

How to Stop Leaning

How to Stop Leaning

Have you ever struggled with a pesky upper body that insists on leaning before and through the turn? Do your shoulders and torso have minds of their own?

Try these ideas to sit (and stay (-:) square, still and deep in the saddle:

1. Let go of trying not to lean.

Our bodies cannot ‘not’ do anything. You will be well on your way to sitting quietly, deeply and still as you focus on what you want, instead of what you don’t want.

2. Focus instead on the mechanics and feeling of a silky, deep cutting turn.

Work towards the goal of being a partner with your horse in a seamless kind of deep swiveling sensation as you turn.

You and your horse are a team. Your horse provides the power and the movement. You provide the support.

You each have your own jobs.

3. Understand your horse’s job.

The turn begins with a square stop on his hindquarters.

He then draws his weight one more notch back.

His primary weight just after the stop and just before and during the turn needs to be on the opposite hind leg away from the cow.

So if you are facing left, getting ready to turn right, after your horse stops, he anchors his left hind leg in the dirt. He holds that crouched position and weight distribution to make a balanced turn in rhythm with the cow.

If you’ve heard the terms, “losing his rear” or “fishtailing” … that occurs when there is less weight (and wait) on the opposite hind leg away from the cow.

4. Understand the rider’s job.

The rider must maintain proper balance and weight, in order for the horse to do his job.

Help your horse stop by collapsing your back and dropping as deeply as you can into the saddle when you see the cow slow down or stop. Stay down. Tell yourself, “Collapse. Go deeper … deeper … deeper.” Try to press your belt buckle down and toward your back bone.

Check in with your hips. The hip on the outside of the turn … the same hip as the anchor leg of the horse … remains quiet and still … and heavy.

Now, ever so softly and deeply, your hips are quietly a part of a swivel turn.

Your job is to stay balanced and allow your horse to turn around.

As your horse turns, imagine your hips going even deeper as he turns. Feel the swivel.

Try exhaling into the stop and turnaround.

Wait to use your feet until you have almost completed the turn and you are approaching traveling on a line parallel with the cow. Your trainer will coach you about when and how exactly to use your legs after the turn. Different trainers have different approaches to this piece.

As you visualize and practice these technical pieces, coach yourself in feeling words, like “soft, deep, collapse, go deeper”.

Always focus on what you want … repeatedly.

When to Quit! 

When to Quit! 

If you cut, or do herd work in reined cow horse, or do ranch horse cutting, the nature of those classes is that you have to make moment-t0- moment decisions.

There are no pre-set patterns or courses. You hold the reins. You have to make on-the-spot choices. 

This makes these classes exciting … and often frustrating. 

One of these crucial decisions is when to quit a cow and go for another. Part of your decision making will depend on your ability to understand cattle.

Here are a few of the things you can weigh when you decide to stay with or quit a cow:

  • Is your “good” cow maximized … that is, did you get all the credit-earning work out of her yet?

  • Is your “mediocre” cow worth staying on?

  • Is the cow you cut so “bad” that the only smart thing to do is quit and get another one? 

Let’s begin with a description of an ideal cow. 

It faces your horse and goes back and forth for 15-30 feet at a medium clip in the middle of the arena. It has “feel” which means it stops and goes the other direction when you ride your horse to the correct position to stop her.

Our “wonder cow” never darts toward the turn back people, the herd holders, towards the back fence or towards the ends of the arena.

These behaviors in all in one cow during a cutting or herd work class are rare, but they serve as a great references for deciding when to quit. 

Okay, with those ideas in mind, here are the most common cow behaviors that should be red flags that it’s time to look for a place to quit and get another cow. 

This list does not discuss the multitude of situations that also affect your decision at any moment in time, (like how much time you have been working it, or how much time is left on the clock, etc). 

That’s a discussion for another day. This list is meant to be a simple set of key indicators about when a cow is probably “used-up”. Her best stuff is gone … if she ever had it!

I also understand you have to work a cow until you can quit it legally.

For the purposes of this discussion, I am assuming you will wait until a legal opportunity is available to you. 

With “ideal cow” behavior understood, here are some red flags for when it’s time to quit a cow and go for another: 

1.) She starts off well, but darts hard towards one of the corners. The key word here is dart. You can bet the next time she travels back in the same direction, she will try even harder to get to the corner. 

She’s no good. Do your best to stop her and quit working her as soon as possible.

2.) She has no interest in your horse. She wanders from one place in the arena to another … everywhere but in the vicinity of you and your horse.

She may or may not be that “bad”, but without you being able to really affect her behavior and stop her, you won’t be able show much of what your horse can do. 

3.) She is numb. She stands there and your turn back helpers are yelling and slapping their chaps. She barely moves.

Quit. 

4.) She is crazy! Her tail goes up and maybe over her back. She is on a mission to go anywhere at jet speed and get by any horse she can.

She might aim at the turn back horses or just run wildly around the arena. 

Quit working her ASAP. If she is super wild and you keep working her, even if she’s not coming in your direction, chances are she’s going to turn on you sooner or later and mow you over! 

5.) She starts off like our ideal cow, but then starts moving in any direction out of the middle of the arena. 

Quit at an opportune time. She may not be that bad, but chances are you’ve gotten all of the good work out of her and she’s not coming back to center stage. 

6.) She starts running from wall-to-wall. 

It’s time to quit.

7.) She starts trying to get through the turn back helpers.

Thumbs down.

8.) She snorts at you!

Adios, amigos! Quit ASAP.

A great way to practice knowing when to quit is to watch cattle from the bleachers in as many classes as you can. Study how cattle behave. Pretend like you are showing. 

When does her behavior change and when would be the most ideal time to quit?

The Soul of Competition

The Soul of Competition

If you’re a competitor, chances are from time to time you might feel anything from anxiety to intimidation. What if I fail? What will they think? What if I let me trainer/spouse/friends down? What if I’ll never be good enough? What if I don’t make it?

It can be nerve wracking.

While those nagging questions are natural, I have ten perspectives on competition to turn your trepidation into an experience of pure heart and soul.

1. Some folks have a passion to compete and some do not. This seems to be more of a natural personality trait. It’s not a better than or lesser than comparison with other people. It’s a natural joy to compete, or not.

If you’re not a competitor, don’t compare yourself to others who do.

If you love to compete, enjoy it for its own sake. You are meant to be there. Wherever you are in your skills and accomplishments (or not) doesn’t matter. You are enough right where you are. You are on a journey of ups and downs and arounds …. and always learning about yourself.

2. The difference between not riding in competitions and riding in scheduled shows is that shows require that you put yourself and your horse on the line at a specific scheduled time where you’re judged by a person or a clock.

These two elements by nature “push” you to be your best. Know you are helping yourself expand your experiences and skills. Celebrate that you have the discipline to keep reaching for more.

3. While competition appears to be “against” other people (meaning your results are measured externally) I submit that the only real competition is within yourself.

When you enter the show arena, your job is to do your very best in that ride, at that time. Judge your results by your own past performances.

As you continue to grow your mental and technical skills for your discipline, the external results will automatically take care of themselves. Your job is to keep upping YOUR game.

The secret is to be in the heart of your job each moment each time.

The great wrecking ball to any ride is thinking about the outcome.

This perhaps is the greatest discipline of all about showing … staying focused on all you can control. Get focused. Get into the highest level of relationship with your horse at that moment. Go for it. That is truly all that exists, no matter what significance any particular ride might hold.

Ride each ride like it’s the most important ride of your life. When you take this approach, you practice high level performance skills every time. This results in consistency. A “big” show won’t make a difference because that’s what you always do.

This is up to you, and only you to see it all this way.

4. Competition constantly challenges your belief in yourself. It beckons you to believe you can “do it” no matter what happens on the outside.

It’s natural and easy to feel vulnerable, frustrated, embarrassed and doubt your abilities when you fall short.

The challenge is to treat yourself as you would support your dearest friend.

Tell yourself over and over (in good times and bad) that you believe in yourself no matter the outcome. Know it. Claim it.

Your journey is a worthy and awesome one each step of the way.

Know in your heart that your belief in yourself can never be shattered by inevitable disappointments.

5. Showing is an adventure. Oh my! You never know what’s going to happen.

There’s that soulful relationship with your horse you absolutely cherish. How are the two of you going to mesh today?

There are all the people you get to meet. That’s always a trip!

There’s the show management. There’s the weather. There’s the ground. For those of us who work cattle, we wonder what the beasts will be like today … fire eating dragons or puppy dogs?

Who knows what the day will bring?

Enjoy being amazed. Life is meant to be an adventure! If you compete you signed up for a big adventure.

6. For a particular show season, set an “outcome” goal you can measure and that thrills you. This will fuel your motivation to get going and pick yourself up when you fall. An example would be to win a year end award of some kind.

But once that goal is set, just keep it quietly in your heart. Turn it over to God … or to the stars. You can’t control it.

But you can control many things. Show by show, class by class, focus on the tiny baby steps you can do, like how you use your seat or feet, or how you prepare yourself and your horse.

When you set these “performance” goals and you focus on them, you will automatically be taken to your best possibility to achieve your outcome goal.

That’s all you can do! And you can bet you will grow your skills … and hopefully attain your outcome goal.

7. Don’t just set your performance goals, get passionate about them. Focus like a laser beam on them each and every ride, moment by moment. There’s nothing else for you to do. You’ve prepared. You’re at the show. Go for it.

8. Video each ride. Study it closely. Evaluate your ride in tiny pieces.

Give yourself a celebratory fist pump for what you did well. Own these pieces. Don’t skip this step.

Wherever you fell short, search the video for exactly where the error just barely began. That’s the place to improve upon next time. With this approach, you have a totally customized achievement plan.

9. Be forever grateful … for the incredible opportunity to do what you do … for your horse … for your friends … for your trainer … for the awesomeness of just being able to physically get up in the morning and go show a magnificent horse.

Really, when you think about it, what a magical opportunity you have. There is no failure … only experiences. You are so lucky!

This is your journey. Drink it up.

10. You are always enough. Where you are at this moment is perfect. You are growing. You’re extraordinary. There is no failure. There is only an adventure.

That is the soul of competition … drinking up all of the magnificence of your own incredible journey. It is a gift.