Have you ever wondered what someone means when they say, “Get a hold of that cow!” You might think, “What in the world?????”
When a trainer or a helper says this, he or she means to become more aware of your mental and physical connection to the cow in that moment. It’s like saying, “Above all else, zone in on the cow.” That’s because beyond all of the technical things we do with our legs and seat, we always need to relate them to the cow first and foremost.
Sometimes as cutting horse riders, we become so wound up on getting the cow cut, putting our hand down, keeping it down, sitting deep in the saddle, using a herdside or cowside leg … the list goes on … that the cow becomes secondary as it moves around in front of us. We’re too busy multi-tasking on all the other stuff to be intently focused on the cow.
But actually, the connection to the cow should come first.
It’s analogous to playing tennis. You have to keep your eye on the ball to play tennis or else you won’t be in the game very long. Your connection to the tennis ball is key.
In cutting it’s keeping your eye on the cow. It’s the same in regards to your effectiveness as a rider as you work a cow. The more connected to a cow you are, the more accurate and purposeful you will be as you ride. The difference between tennis and cutting is that we don’t always have to be that focused. Our horse will cover for us most of the time if we don’t laser beam in on the cow.
Here are three ways to get more connected to a cow:
1. Make getting and staying focused to the cow your first priority. Have a phrase you say to yourself repeatedly that connects you to the cow.
The thought “Watch the cow” is a good one, and of course essential. But by nature, the word “Watch” is a little passive. There’s nothing technically wrong with that idea. But if you tell yourself to “Take a hold!” … now you’ve got some energy going on! Boom! “Take a hold of that cow!”
2. Be purposeful regarding the angle you take to stop the cow. Go for more than just position on the cow (although that’s a good starting point). Go for moving up into the “energy” of the cow at a slight angle to the cow.
3. “Read the cow” in all you do, especially with your seat. Go beyond the mechanics of how to sit. Use the mechanics of your seat for the purpose of connecting with your horse and stopping the cow. Let the purpose of stopping the cow tell your body when to sit. Take “a hold of the cow” in the stop with a dramatic seat drop.