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How many horses should one use for checking cattle daily.

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Ranchero

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When riding 15-20 miles daily checking /working cattle in the mountains (rough country) How many horses are needed per cowboy?

1. Is 3 horses rotated daily enough?

2. Is 2 horses enough rotated daily if supplemented?

3. Can 1 mule work every day for 2 weeks straight then rest 2 weeks riding a 2nd mule?

I would like to know what other ranches are using, of course much depends on the terrain and work. All work on our ranch is done on horses and mules.
 
A

Anonymous

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When I was working for the grazing assoc and using the horses hard every day we tried to have 5 horses per cowboy- switch daily- or if working cattle close to the camp - switch at noon too...With horses getting bruised or hurt (and one year a distemper outbreak) sometimes would get down to 3 per cowboy-- but anything less than that gets pretty tough on horses in rough country....
 

righter

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This is a real hot topic in our household.
It seems that a lot of people want to go 9-0 all the time, a long trot or some such crap.
We have found from experience that a single horse, or two at most, is way plenty, even on a big place with rough country.
If you ride slow enough to be looking at the darned cows, you won't wear out a horse. If you are close to the house, give the horse a rest and a feed at dinner break. This works, we learned it in places where it might be 17 miles or more to get to the cows, and the temps were high with 80 percent or higher humidity.
The idea of a day on and four days off does nothing to condition a horse, so they stay softer than one that has to go every day or every other day.
I know that last year during calving, used one mare all day every day, she got as hard as the proverbial rock. All summer, riding all day every day, same mare. The other half had a good stout gelding, rode all day every day. I am talking about LONG ROUNDS, 27 miles min.
Feed them good, take care of them, condition them, keep the feet on them good. Two good ones will do you.
 

Faster horses

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Age makes a big difference. If you ride a young horse to hard, you will kill him off and he will never be the horse he could have been.

We worked around some excellent horsemen on a big ranch. 72,000 acres in the Powder River breaks. They rode a lot of young horses and they were very conscious of riding them too hard. They need to be at least 4 and 5 is better to stand a long ride. I mean it was 84 miles round trip to the back of that place. They would lead a colt and ride a horse. They would tie the colt up where we were gathering the cattle and when it came time to sort, they would ride the colt to sort. Every cow or whatever they took out of the herd, they stopped their horse straight and petted him on the neck to let him know he did a good job and that one was finished. Then they would ride back in and get another whatever they were after. They then rode the horse home and led the colt.

They had horses that were led so much that if they had to rope and doc
tor a yearling, the horse that was being led wouldn't even take the slack out of the lead rope. They rode awesome horses and were awesome horsemen.

We grained our horses there morning and night with just oats and you couldn't break a sweat on them. They were hard and in great shape. It is good to change off at noon if you can and ride a different horse. Maybe go back to the first horse the next morning or the following morning. But age is critical. Don't ride them young horses too hard. Just like asking a young kid to do too much work. Soon they hate it. Remember that a horse learns more when he is fresh and feels good than when he is tired and wrung out.
 

Jinglebob

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On the subject of riding young horses, I never and I mean never, ride any horse under the age of 5, hard. By hard, I mean sweated up and plumb out of breath and and leg weary. I think that if you do this you will have horses who last lots longer and won't have to worry about navicular.

Although if you put a pretty hard ride on a young mare or stud and they develop any problems, you can cull them and get them out of the herd.

I agree that you can build up the stamina on one by giving it good feed and rest and riding, just like an athlete who is in training.

One winter I was feeding with a team of horses everyday. I was fighting heavy snows and hard pulls all winter long. By spring, them ol' mares could have pulled a mountain down, they were so hard. They were getting all of the hay thery could eat and about 2 coffee cans full of oats everyday. They weighed about 1500 or 1600 pounds.
 

PPRM

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I have more feedlot experience than outside, but here was my take from watching one of the greatest hands I ever saw make a horse. All of his were great outta his own mares.


The feedlot would only let them keep 2 head there. The lot fed and paid for shoin on these. He lived 1/2 mile away. If he was starting a young one, he might ride or trailer it in. Ride it for a few hours then finish the day on a broke horse. However, we were able to trade horses easily at coffee break or lunch.....

After watching him and riding there myself, I felt like 3 horses was best, but went back to where they were. On young ones, less than a day was best. On some that you had going, you needed to be on them more than twice a week for sure.....

Guess my take is a lot of it depends on the horse. There's a certain age andf point in training where they need miles, other times they need to just be a horse....It is a combination of where they are mentally and physically,


PPRM
 

righter

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Yeah, I got to thinking about my post while I was out and about, and forgot the thing about the age of the horse. And the size of the pasture, but the mare I was talking about is just now come five and she has sure handled a lot of long days and hard work with no problems. COurse, she is one of those good big stout hancock horses, made for this country. kind of like that old timex, takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
 

RoperAB

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Ranchero said:
When riding 15-20 miles daily checking /working cattle in the mountains (rough country) How many horses are needed per cowboy?

1. Is 3 horses rotated daily enough?

2. Is 2 horses enough rotated daily if supplemented?

3. Can 1 mule work every day for 2 weeks straight then rest 2 weeks riding a 2nd mule?

I would like to know what other ranches are using, of course much depends on the terrain and work. All work on our ranch is done on horses and mules.

I would want ten or twelve that were atleast 4 yo. Be nice if I could switch horses every couple of hours.
Nothing worse than riding a tired horse.
Your also going to end up with a certain amount of injuries so its better if you have more horses.
I make my living training horses. Dont start em until they are 3. Dont ride em hard until 4. Even still I have a hard time keeping weight on them. They each only get on average an hours riding a day.
I feed them all the alfalfa they can eat, two gallons of oats per horse a day and Hoffmans minerals. I still have trouble keeping weight on them! I also give each horse a cup of calola oil each day!
140 miles a week is a lot of miles!
 

Jinglebob

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RoperAB said:
Ranchero said:
When riding 15-20 miles daily checking /working cattle in the mountains (rough country) How many horses are needed per cowboy?

1. Is 3 horses rotated daily enough?

2. Is 2 horses enough rotated daily if supplemented?

3. Can 1 mule work every day for 2 weeks straight then rest 2 weeks riding a 2nd mule?

I would like to know what other ranches are using, of course much depends on the terrain and work. All work on our ranch is done on horses and mules.


140 miles a week is a lot of miles!

Yeah and your so dang far from home when you've ridden the 140 miles! :shock:
 

righter

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Roper wrote :I would want ten or twelve. I make my living training horses.
Isn't that kind of like asking a barber if you need a haircut?
I still contend that a few (3-5 would allow for injuries) mature, well fed, well conditioned horses is way plenty.
Think of them like any athlete in training. An athlete sure works harder than an hour a day, to get in condition. Why would a horse be any different?
 

Faster horses

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They are packing a person and a saddle, for one thing. Think about it.

That's adding a lot of weight they must carry every step of the way. That's why they get footsore and weary if they are ridden every day.
Just them travelling with no one or nothing on them is a different story.

On of my pet peeves is a big guy riding a little horse, dragging calves to the fire and never quitting. Long as the horse goes, he keeps on keeping on. Then the next branding can't figure out what is wrong with his horse. And the horse gets worked over for it.
:???: :mad: :twisted:


Horses should be partners, not slaves.
 

Soapweed

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This rather reminds me of when OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) was first testing their wings, and coming up with all kinds of new rules. They were trying to insist on a porta-potty "within five minutes walking distance" of any job site. Our lady from Nebraska in the House of Representatives said, "Well, how do you know what is 'five minutes walking distance'? You would have to consider the length of the person's stride and their sense of urgency." :wink: Good point.
 

righter

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Well, Faster horses, I agree there is no reason to be stupid about things. What p's me off is the guy (or girl) that pulls a horse out of the pasture when it hasn't worked in forever and then works the stuffing out of it.
That's the horse that will get worn out easily. A lot of places -- or people -- don't have enough work to get a horse in condition and keep it there.
If you take a horse, ride it consistently, daily, like they do race or endurance horses, they get to where a long round every day doesn't make them too worn out to go the next day.
Conditioning, and conditions, and using your head, are the key.
 

Faster horses

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I'll agree. But all that has to come with good nutrition.

You still cannot ride them hard for days on end and expect them to hold up. You might get by, but you will shorten the life of the horse. So our motto is, "Take care of the good ones. They are hard to replace."
:D
 

cowboyup

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when I was working for an outfit out of Saratoga WY our smallest pastures were about twenty five sections THe guys mostlly had 3 to 4 horses in their string which made for a three or four day rotation and they had to ride whatever horse was up thjat day regardless of what we were doing. We didn't ever travel faster than a long trot unless you were roping something to do so got you sent over to the farm crew for awhile. I had five horses in my string as ihad to ride my circle plus check on the boys and help them if they were having any trouble. Our horses were all kept rode down and really needed the days off especialy if an injury shortened the rotation. My horses fared pretty well but the boys could all have used at least one more horse each. Usualy we would leave the barn about five and not get back till around then in the afternoon usually. Darn sure let you know if you wanted to be a cowboy or not. :wink:
 

Faster horses

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Agreed and understood. Thanks for posting. Just reinforces what I said.
Not many ride that long and hard anymore, which is a good thing for the horses.

What all these new types of horsemen are promoting is good: "CONSIDER THE HORSE." Getting to where more people think
about what is going on with their horses. We were around excellent horsemen that thought it a cardinal sin to ride a horse too hard. Made us conscious of something we had not thought that much about before.
 

greg

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Sorry have to agree with "righter". In my opinion?-It is not how many horses-it is the size of there heart,and how rider uses them?
 

RoperAB

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righter said:
Roper wrote :I would want ten or twelve. I make my living training horses.
Isn't that kind of like asking a barber if you need a haircut?
I still contend that a few (3-5 would allow for injuries) mature, well fed, well conditioned horses is way plenty.
Think of them like any athlete in training. An athlete sure works harder than an hour a day, to get in condition. Why would a horse be any different?

HAha Well my friends kid rides out at Douglas Lake. Im just trying to remember but I think his string is 5 horses. So im sure 5 is enough for anyone.
If I was cowboying I would "WANT" a dozen. I have trailed cows where I have had to ride the same horse all day. I dont like to do this. Even if the horse is conditioned thats still a big day for a horse and he is going to need a day off. Plus any horse is going to be tired if you ride it all day. Plus they only have so many miles in them. Horses are plenty, so why ride em in the ground?
I would much prefer to switch horses every two hours. This would be ideal.
I also used to be a professional hunter. I still hunt on my own but I dont guide anymore. But packing into the mountains for a week, well your horses are not going to gain any weight if your riding them everyday.
Honestly I ride mainly colts. Lightly start them when they are 3 and then have at them at 4. Generally they get sold by the time they are 5.
An hour a day is a lot for a three year old! Even at a trot the will get gimpy and puffy joints if your not careful. There are way to many performance horses in AB that are washed up at a young age from people trying to do to much with them.
Horses are cheap and plentiful! Why would anybody want to make do with less?
Like around here when there are cattle to be trailed most outfits are small one horse type outfits that often want volunteirs to help with the bigger moves.
For the most part you see big riders show up with unconditioned, bare foot horses that sure were not given any grain"they dont want the horse feeling to good" before the ride.
Even at brandings I have seen riders taking turns "switching off"on the same tired horse all day.
Honestly I dont think much of this kind of stuff. Plus there is no need of it. Horses are cheap and plentiful.
 

Faster horses

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:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Now here is a man who "considers the horse."
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When we were on the Powder River in Wyoming, we rode many miles. The tax man stopped by (uninvited) and saw all those fit horses. He made some remark about what were we doing with all those drawed up horses? We rode them, we grained them twice a day and you couldn't make them sweat they were so hard. We had plenty to ride, because it is no fun riding a tired horse and soon they don't like you for it.

People think young horses have to be ridden hard to be broke right and this is a misconception. Horses learn more the first half hour you ride them and when they are fresh, than they do all the rest of the day.

If you really want to get technical, our horse trainer friend who has ridden many, many miles horseback says you need to learn to ride both sides of your horse. That will help him as much as anything you can do. I didn't understand this, so he told me to go look at my stirrups. Sure enough, one side is worn more than the other, and that is the side I mostly 'ride.' Most people do only ride one side of their horse.

And of course, we all know that riding a horse with a loosened cinch helps them stay fresher than if riding them with a tight cinch. We do know this, don't we?
 

righter

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Explain that 'ride both sides' a little more, Faster Horses. I think I get the idea, but am not familiar with your terms.
What I don't understand is the guys who have a wad of horses, none of them are broke (bronc out at any given moment) and none of them are in condition because they are only riden about an hour every two weeks, going like hell the whole time (long trot everywhere) then two weeks off because of going through the whole rotation.
But it is true that there are just not enough full time riding outfits to give all those horses jobs. That's why I keep trying to tell the other half he could ride a horse for a year and send him east to sell for a trail horse or some other high dollar purpose. But he falls in love, gets one like he wants her and keeps her that way.
Guess that tendency has been a lucky thing for me :lol: If he got used to switching, he'd probably trade me in for two 20's.
 

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