From Soft Eyes to Piercing Eyes

From Soft Eyes to Piercing Eyes

Hey, it’s Barb and I want to talk to you in this little mini podcast about how powerful your eyes are when you’re making cuts in a herd work or cutting run.

First of all, it’s important for your eyes to, in general, to be up. Anytime our eyes drop, it is always an indication of some kind of insecurity or concern about our horse – what’s happening with them or if something’s going wrong, When we feel uneasy or unsure, we usually tend to avert our gaze downwards.

So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is that when you are walking through the herd, and the cattle take a direction around you, l (say they’re flowing to the left,) you want to have soft eyes so that you can see what’s really happening. You want to look toward the end of the flow because those cattle are the ones that are likely going to walk up to the center of the pen and be easy to cut.

So that’s the second thing.

But then once you’re set on a specific cow, you want your eyes to become more piercing. Say you’re aiming for the throat latch of the cow so you can move in that direction to control the cow, you want to feel like your eyes are like laser beams on that throat latch (or wherever it is that you want to control the cow.) Your horse will follow that.

It will help you guide your horse, but also there is a power and energy in our gaze that impacts a cow. I know that might sound a little crazy, but it absolutely does. It’s just like if you feel like somebody’s staring at you from across the room, all of a sudden you might feel it, even when you don’t see it first.

This is the same thing.

Those are two ways to powerfully use your eyes. It works!

Have a great day. Hope that helps. Bye bye.

The Art of Science of Visualization

The Art of Science of Visualization

We all process information and experiences differently. Some of us love to listen to information. Others are visual. And then a percentage of us are mostly tuned into touch.

I’m more auditory. I love to see things, too, but I know I process more readily by listening.

So, for me, visualizing has always been something I’ve had to practice consistently. But it’s well worth it because research has shown that visualization facilitates and improves performance incredibly.

And it’s like a muscle. It takes practice over time to build visualization strength.

Here are some ideas for how to do just that:

  • Go over the entire ride in your mind before you even step on your horse. The more often, the better.
  • Visualize exactly how you want a sequence to unfold just before the maneuver begins. With consistent practice, in moments, you can see a complicated series of maneuvers play out beautifully in your head. With practice, this happens in a moment.
  • Review potential challenges and demanding situations that might come up and how you would respond to each one.
  • Be consistent! Morning and evening practice are ideal.
  • The more you add emotion and touch to your visualizations, the more impactful they become. Experience what you are about to do with every part of your being. Feel the sweat on your horse’s neck. Smell the fly spray and mane detangler. Breathe. Project yourself in every way into each ride segment, so much so that where you will be and the energy of what you’re doing feel like they’re actually happening.

You can do it! The first time I made the NCHA Futurity Finals was after I visualized morning and evening and saw myself riding in Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth. And when I rode to the herd, it was like I had been there hundreds of times before – because I had.

And make them fun! You can do anything you like in your mind!

Please leave a comment for me.

On the ‘Line’

On the ‘Line’

An elusive concept for working out of the herd can be the idea of staying ‘on the line’ once we begin working the cow.
It’s an important idea to understand first and then execute, especially in fast cattle. In my video archives, I found a video that gives a great visual of staying on the line. 
It’s Not About Us

It’s Not About Us

When we compete, it’s easy to feel the pressure to get good results. We feel like all eyes are on us and our horses. After all, that’s how success is measured, right? 

In this article, I suggest a perspective that shifts our focus to a more productive place, releases the pressure to meet external results, and puts our awareness and effort where it’s most influential – on the partnership with our horse in the show pen. 

Because of my background and training in mental skills, for years, I’ve said that the only job we have when we show is to get ourselves ready, get our horse ready, and then go in the show ring and be present during every part of our ride.

That’s still true. Nothing has changed for me – except – how to focus on achieving that.

I will digress momentarily when we practice at home before the show. Typically that is thorough as possible, and we have a plan for show day.

At home, we focus on our horses, hopefully not only on what we want them to do but also our relationship with them.

Our relationship matters because, by nature, as prey animals, horses are extremely sensitive. While it may not always seem like that, they are perceptive to us, our moods, focus, and energy.

Now back to show day.

Our horses need us to be the same person at the show as we are at home – and – they need us to be perceptive about their fears and worries at the show.

When our focus shifts from concern about how we will do to preparing ourselves and helping our horse be ready and tuned in to the job at hand, we set both of us up for success.

Our horses need us.

They know when we are focused on them and when we’re not. I’m not saying they won’t do an excellent job for us when they know we’re consumed with ourselves, but by nature, when we focus on them, they feel safe and comforted because they know we have their back.

Getting ourselves ready, focusing on our horses to do the job at hand, and staying present in the moment is the recipe for performing at our highest level for us and our horses.