Rate is not just for the fence. (It’s even essential in the reined work circles and rundowns).

In my last article I talked about judging with Bobby Ingersoll and how he broke down the fence work into the simplicity of “stop-rate-turn.” It inspired me to go a step further and relate it to other events.

My understanding of rate is when a horse quickly gets into the position of control on a cow and maintains it by getting in sync with the animal, matching its speed, thus, allowing the rider to choose the moment to throw their rope or slightly increase speed, in order to turn it. Training a horse to rate for your event allows the rider to execute the required maneuver with a much higher degree of precision.

How rate relates to steer stopping: In the steer stopping, rate means getting into position quickly from the box and getting in sync with the steer so the rider can choose the moment to throw the rope for maximum accuracy (not having to reach way out nor over running the steer).

Matt Koch exhibiting good rate steer stopping:

In cutting, rating means reading the cow through the turn, exiting, and immediately getting into the position of control and maintaining it until the rider signals a slight increase in speed to get the cow stopped. The turn must be executed with good form (drawing back over the horse’s hocks), in sync with the cow, letting it pull the horse through the turns then immediately regaining position on the other side of the cow. The horse must “cover” both sides of the cow. This means the horse must get as far across the cow on one side as it does on the other. If they don’t, then they get lopsided and aren’t controlling the cow, nor are they in sync with it, so rate isn’t happening either. 

Wes Galyean and Third Edge exhibiting great rate (not to mention amazing eye appeal and covering both sides of his cow for position and control credit!)

In the reined work, rating in the circles means being able to accelerate smoothly into the highest rate of speed desired and maintaining it until the rider eases down into a smaller slower circle. In essence they’re reading the rider’s body signals like they’d read a cow in the other events. In the rundown rating means smoothly increasing speed (in almost undetectable increments) over the length of the arena allowing the horse’s body to be in the best possible position to execute a smooth, powerful slide. 

This important ingredient also is necessary for a fast, efficient barrel run, and even pacing for a jump! It’s well worth the time and effort to teach your horse to rate in whatever event you do, for a flawless run with tons of eye appeal!

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