Position and control are the most important elements in a cow horse event. You want to be the mirror image while working.

If you draw a wild one you are in the right place at the right time trying to control it, and the cow doesn’t honor you, you should be awarded a new one. If you’re not, then the judge shouldn’t blow the whistle even if it runs right by you.

If there’s no new cow, the show must go on and it’s your job to try to work with what you’ve got. It’s the “luck of the draw”.

Whatever you train your cow to do while you’re boxing is how it will respond going down the fence. If you get it stopped and controlled while boxing then there’s a good chance it will honor you when you step in front of it to turn it going down the fence.

When it’s time to leave, I like to be around the middle of the short wall giving myself enough time to start driving the cow and get in sync with it as it approaches the corner.

I put my horse’s nose right in the cow’s flank. The pictures below show Lyn Anderson in perfect position to drive the cow through the corner and leave just right. (see below)

Getting through the corner is a very important part of the run. If you’re too far behind, it might come off the fence and circle you back to the short wall. That’s very expensive in terms of your score.

If you get too far ahead, you will turn the cow back too soon. But if you leave just right, there’s a really good chance to have an excellent run.

This is not only because you’re right there rating it, but the cow knows you’ve got him in your crosshairs and is less apt to throw you a curve ball.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict how fast a cow will run once it’s lined out. They fib to us a lot. Some of the ones you could barely get to move while boxing, run down the fence like their hair is on fire and visa versa.

You want to keep steady pressure on the cow so it smoothly lopes through the corner and lines out down the fence. You don’t want to give it any options. This is not a democracy. You want to put the cow right where you want it.

If you can leave right with the cow, you won’t have to run to catch up, and you’ll be able to rate it down the fence choosing where you want to turn it.

Should you draw a cow with a sensitive set of brakes ie it stops while you’re boxing before you even get to its head, be prepared for it to want to turn when you’ve barely gotten up beside it and same when you circle. It’s really easy to overshoot that kind.

Some horses like to drop their shoulder on the cow side (lean towards it). When that happens, the cow won’t want to turn because it can’t see any place to go but forward, and around the corner you go!

If your cow needs to catch another gear, you can drop back just a bit and putting your horse’s nose towards it’s flank, you can drive it faster.

Fast or slow, accurate rating is very important for control and a good score. When you rate well, you can make your move and sneak past the cow going only 1 or 2 mph more and assure yourself a better turn than if you were playing catch-up and passed it going 5 or 10 mph faster.

Judges never like to see separation between the cow and the horse, that’s what control is all about.


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