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Making a good Cattle horse

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Cowgal

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Can any or you horse people please give me advice on what makes a good cattle horse? What breeds are best, what sex, what age and anything you can offer.
I have a few horses and would like to attempt - I say this with optimism - to break and train them to be cattle horses. Yes, I know I can hire a professional trainer to do this - but I want to learn and do it on my own.
Is letting horses mingle freely in the pasture with cattle a good idea?

Ready willing and hopefully capable!!!! :wink:
 

PPRM

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Cowgal,

Quarter Horses are the best......

My horses grow up around cattle, but they will cripple young calves (kick, bite, ect) if turned out. I will put them with weaned though. Main thing is to get themso theyaren't afraid.

As far as making, basic start is to have a group of calves and sort one out. If calf goes forward, horse goes forward, calf stops horse stops. This is best done on gentle cattle, all slow. This isn't a run and chase deal.

If you want to get good at making horses, sort cattle on foot, it'll teach you the angles.

Best to have someone work with you. I lease a lot of calves to various cutting horse trainers as an exchange for grass. Be a good idea to warch one.


One basic deal, horse never turns butt to cattle, it will lose them in the eye and have to pick them up again. A lot more, but that's it for now,


Pat
 

Northern Rancher

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I've always run my horses with my cows-after a hard day the last thing they want to do is run them some. Actually we put some old horses in with our calves all winter-really settles them-it's nice to be able to work yearlings on horseback without them scattering like quail lol. The best thing to make a cow horse is work-lots of it and varied-like pprm says you should be able to do most stuff at a walk. Riding A'I is pefect training-lots of hours and varied situations. I'm very lucky to ride with some really good hands that aren't afraid to give advice-never be afraid to ask somebody either. With a young horse try to get them in situations where they're going to win-sort some cattle that want to go that way anyway.
 

OldDog/NewTricks

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I hope I'm right in assuming you mean more of a Ranch Style Cow-Horse more than a Cutting Horse.

I get bored easy, experance tells me that boredum tends to lead to a loss of temper in Young Trainers. Anyhow I would ride down to a Feed Lot or Sales Yard where my horse would get hours of "Practial Use". Opening gates, moveing livestick easy, Mud & Water, Ropes, roping, ect. Usally there are a few old timers there that will be willing to help lean and keep your tempure (On slower days) - -

It's good to know what not to do as well as what to do; lesson to everyone then just do the things that make sence to you.

What works for me will not always work for you. Any GOOD Horsemen will know that and respect you for learning that.

As is said above, you can run them in with cattle espically at feeding times, you want your horse to get "pushee" with cattle. BUT - I always fence off a Safe Area so animals can get away from a overly playful horse. (I find a High Electric Fence Works well.) ( there are other ways)

Cross tie your horse and heel him and rope him "EASILY" at first being careful not to hit him in the face or head woth the rope (that will teach him to duck-off) I go from this to doing it in Hobbles. (it called "Have a Beer") time.

I have about a foot of rope I put under their tail to teach them, They don't like it and will tuck-up or buck, it's going to happen sometme, better in a teaching location

This will get you started.
More Questions?
 

Cowgal

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Ok Old Dog,

What about breed of a horse? Everybody and thier dead grand daddies are tellin me qrt horse are the ONLY thing to use?
Also only geldings? I have a Arab/QTR Mare and a Morgan Stallion Colt thats sweeter than honey...... good or bad for this?

I also have a belgium/Appy X gelding who wants to be boss?

Whats your opinion?
 

Jeannie

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Hi Cowgal,

I had a 1/2 morgan mare that was the best cow horse I have ever ridden. Having grown up on a working ranch, I rode a lot of horses! She was an absolute natural at working, cutting, and moving cattle. I don't know how she would have been for roping, as we didn't rope our cattle. She was good to the point of not being able to turn her out with cattle, because she would watch the herd, pick one out, cut them out, and keep them out until we caught her or she needed water or it was feed time - whichever came first. Needless to say, this caused a lot of problems with the pairs!

If I were trying to train a horse to be a cow horse, the first thing I would look for is a horse with good manners and basic training. Then I would put that horse around cattle to see if he/she got keyed up (that shows some natural 'cowiness'), then I would take that horse and use him in low-key situations (hazing, bringing them in, etc) until he/she got comfortable and figured out the basics. I would also teach them the basic spin, sliding stop, etc, using a lot of different situations so it did not become monotonous, while I was doing this. Then I would start with the cutting, holding, etc. The LAST thing I would EVER do with a horse I was trying to train for cows would be send them/take them to the sale barn or a feed lot as it is very repetitious and bores most horses out of their minds leading to problems. I wish you the best of luck with your horses!
 

Cowgal

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Thanks Jeannie,
To tell you the truth, my gut instinct tells me my Morgan has it all. He is so sweet, easy going, likes everything he comes into contact with. Hell, I have miniature donkeys - and he and the jack, spar - they play and go at it like brothers. The Morgan outweighs the donkey by atleast 600 lbs. They obviously are still intact - but play like crazy! This is infact while both jenny and mare are in contact distance. No conflicts.
He has manners, is very polite and seems to understand I am boss.

He is black with midnight blues!
 

Faster horses

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It is my thought that Morgans were used alot for cattle work in the past. Where the QH outshines the Morgan is their quick speed. Morgans just didn't have that quickness it took for roping, etc. I think you will do fine to try a Morgan. Even if he (she) doesn't make it, not all QH's make cow horses. That's why the cutting bred horses seem to come to the surface when looking at bloodlines to make cow horses. (Kinda like cream~the best rises to the top.)

We had a young man that lived with us~ he was and is, one of the very best with a horse. A long time ago, when he was helping sort cattle out of a bunch, he ALWAYS stopped his horse straight away and gave it a pat on the neck after getting a critter out of the bunch. That way the horse knew that job was over. After stopping straight and giving the pat, he then, and only then would turn around and go back in for another cow. This young man had the patience of Job and he could do anything with a horse. He maintans horses need to know when they do a good job, same as kids or anybody.

Another little mistake we think is made when working cows~not everyone might agree with this~when you have a cow in a corner, or want to move a cow out of a corner, don't use your horse to chouse the cow. Use your arm to get the cow to move. Using your horse by moving him back and forth, makes him anxious and/or nervous in tight spots, IMO. Just a little tip, and someone may disagree with it. But we like our horses to stay calm, calm, calm when working cattle.

Lots of trainers put a few head of cattle in a BIG round pen and are mounted on their horse in the center. They might have someone move the cattle a little, but they basically control the cattle from the center of the round pen. Really gives the young horse confidence without scaring him right off the bat. He doesn't have to get too close to them, yet learns what he does can make them stop, or turn around, slow down or speed up.

You might want to get a book and read up on a few things. I am sure Western Horseman might have such a book. Seems like there is one written by Curt Pate, if I recall correctly.
 

OldDog/NewTricks

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She was good to the point of not being able to turn her out with cattle, because she would watch the herd, pick one out, cut them out, and keep them out until we caught her or she needed water or it was feed time - whichever came first. Needless to say, this caused a lot of problems with the pairs!

(I find a High Electric Fence Works well.) ( there are other ways)
That why I said this - - a fence high enough so cows can get under it but it will stop a horse if they know it’s Electric

You can read here and know what I mean when I say:
It's good to know what not to do as well as what to do; lesson to everyone then just do the things that make sence to you.

What works for me will not always work for you. Any GOOD Horsemen will know that and respect you for learning that

Breed Quarter Horse Of Course

Now if you fall for that I know where there’s a bridge For Sale.
There are good and bad in every breed.

I’ve ridden a lot of good horses of all breeds – the best cow-pony “I” ever broke was a Arab he went on to be a Star on the Stanford University Polo Team

The horse I grew up with was a Morgan that would do it all Hunt – work cattle – Swim in the lake with me – Halter Classes – Reining Classes – Bridle Classes – and more - but then any kids horse was the best they ever had.

The top Reining horse in the 50’s was Baby Doll a pinto – what you would call Paint now. Until the mid 60’s Pinto and Paints were Color patterns – In 64 65? The Paint Horse Assoc. came in to being and the color patterns became Tobeono & Overo (sp)

I worked several years for Red Fox Morgan Horse Ranch and put many miles on Morgans.

An Argentine TB Stud “Eugeneo” that came off the track and had a hell of a win record – In those days Argentine Race Horses were broke as cow-horses first - - Standing at Stud I could ride him with just a rope around his neck and talk him On and Off Mares at bleedings

There are a lot of good horses – pick on that makes you happy but know – mares come in heat – and studs know it but most guildings just keep aworking
 

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The best horses I've rode were mares-on our place geldings are for trading and mares are for keeping-I've turned mares in with the stud in the A'M then heeled calves with them all day-not a big problem. I find them just a bit keener on the average than most geldings. What we do is every second year our best ones raise a foal-then we use them hard the next year so they don't gut right up.
 

Faster horses

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The young horseman I speak of regularly here~his family rode alot of mares throughout the years and they had some great ones. A place near them raised horses and wouldn't ride the mares~just shipped them out at a young age. Our friends started going over there and buying some of the mares and boy! were they ever mounted as a result. Put together a whale of a broodmare band to boot.

I have a cute true story about Paints and Pintos.

Tex Smith, a man from Western Mt. raised Paints. He and his wife were at a rodeo when a roper rode a really good looking Paint into the arena. The man told his wife to "look at that nice Paint horse." Well, the horse didn't work very well, and when the man rode out of the arena Tex leaned over and said, to his wife, "Oh, I guess he was a PINTO!"
 

PPRM

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When I said young calves I was talking Pre-branding size. I have on that crawled under a fence into neighors pasture. Horse either kicked it or stepped on it, it came up with a broken back leg. It did finally heal, but set it back a bit.

You can find exceptions, but if I were to pick a breed in general to work with, it would be the Quarter Horse. Not only their general ability, but a karger market to sell into if you are trying to make and sell Quarter Horses. I wasn't trying to be arrogant.

FH, I think stopping a young horse for a bit of reward/reprieve after doing something right is a good idea. I also think taking a few breaks and just sitting there on a young horse is a good idea. rives me crazy when I see someone on a new horse never stop between tasks. Sure, they need to learn transition, but they need to know when they have done it right in the start,

Also, I might misunderstand your corner deal. If I want a calf outta a corner, I pick a side and ride to it. I feel I can stay queit and ese into their flight zone. Actually, if done right, cattle will learn tio work with you. They will begin to look at you to "find the answer". Same if you use dogs on cattle. They work best once used to having the dogs around.

I worked in a feedlot, I still think it's a vital part of a cowhorses education if you can do it. It really takes the final spooks out. They open tons of gates and were else can you find a ton of cattle.
 

Faster horses

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I judge some Trail Classes in small horse shows and I always give the kids an extra mark~in case of a tie~when they let their horse 'settle' from going foreward to backward, as happens in some of the classes. Too many try to go immediately from a foreward motion to backing up and the result isn't nice to watch. The horses are confused when asked to do that~and then they can't accomplish it with any kind of grace. Let them sit a moment and collect their thoughts and it is a much nicer transition. I also speak to the kids about allowing their horses to 'settle' and it is nice to see them pick up on it. It is just a little deal, but I think it helps. Helps the kids to collect their thoughts as well.

Same with working cattle in a corral. If you let those cows 'settle' a bit, they sure do work better. Not many talk about this, but it is very important, IMO.

As for the corner thing, I don't know if I can explain it any better but I will give it some thought and see if I can come up with a better example for you.

Thanks for your good posts. I always enjoy them.
 

OldDog/NewTricks

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You can find exceptions, but if I were to pick a breed in general to work with, it would be the Quarter Horse. Not only their general ability, but a karger market to sell into if you are trying to make and sell Quarter Horses. I wasn't trying to be arrogant.

Even when I was ridden Morgan’s my personal breed was Quarter Horses – I’d get all the Morgan Mares settled and turn my yearling stud colts in to get an education – I’d get back real “Real Gentlemen” for Studs that know how to handle mares.

FH, I think stopping a young horse for a bit of reward/reprieve after doing something right is a good idea. I also think taking a few breaks and just sitting there on a young horse is a good idea. rives me crazy when I see someone on a new horse never stop between tasks. Sure, they need to learn transition, but they need to know when they have done it right in the start,

A task - is a task - is a task and should have No Transition!
Transitions are for Lead Change, Full dead out Runs to a Sliding Stop, Spin to the Left and Then to the Right These take Transition


Also, I might misunderstand your corner deal.

I try to not put a “youngster” in a place where he/she can be comprised – it’s to easy to get 8 hinges, and 2 sheets of plywood and cut them so you have 4 - 4X4 pannels – 45º your corners and install the hinges so the panels will swing back flat when you don’t need them. 45ºed corners help when starting horses or dogs.

Then

If I want a calf outta a corner, I pick a side and ride to it. I feel I can stay queit and ese into their flight zone. Actually, if done right, cattle will learn tio work with you. They will begin to look at you to "find the answer". Same if you use dogs on cattle. They work best once used to having the dogs around.
All this works with dogs very will.
My Angus Cows would eat a dog but the cows will learn that a good dog under contorl is “Not Trouble” - - my dogs would learn to get right under my horse and weave to miss their feet until the cows found that they were not a threat. I could sit in the house and see all the cows heads come up - -STRANGE DOG, GET THE GUN!
 

PPRM

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Sorry Old Dog,

I was talking different age horses and switching back and forth....

"A task - is a task - is a task and should have No Transition!
Transitions are for Lead Change, Full dead out Runs to a Sliding Stop, Spin to the Left and Then to the Right These take Transition "


I was trying to say young horses need to be built up to that. I see too many people trying to get a horse t turn and go the other way on the rail and they really don't have a horse dropping its hind end well at all. Young horses need to be built up to that.

Or maybe you wer knocking me on my choice of words??????

PPRM
 

OldDog/NewTricks

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PPRM - Or maybe you wer knocking me on my choice of words??????

I never knock anyone who sounds as if they know from where they speak or wants to learn. I hope that fits both of us.

eMails and Post Threads are hard to read the right way - you can't see a persons face or hear whats in their voice - - with animal we just get at feeling - - good or bad - - I had a Working Bitch that taugh me that as hard as I try my Voice would change when she di something wrong. If my Voice changed, just a little, she'd leave me and go to the house,
That was a good lesson for me!

As for Horses:
Some people have asked me "How many horses have you finished?"

My answer - "NONE!"

V_Key, my daughter has learned to chim in
"He thinks Houses and People and Never Finished!"

In my ignorance you may find something YOU LIKE!

It's your's - - That how I got it!
 

Jeannie

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Cowgal said:
Thanks Jeannie,
To tell you the truth, my gut instinct tells me my Morgan has it all. He is so sweet, easy going, likes everything he comes into contact with. Hell, I have miniature donkeys - and he and the jack, spar - they play and go at it like brothers. The Morgan outweighs the donkey by atleast 600 lbs. They obviously are still intact - but play like crazy! This is infact while both jenny and mare are in contact distance. No conflicts.
He has manners, is very polite and seems to understand I am boss.

He is black with midnight blues!

I would go with my gut and see what happened. He sounds beautiful, but as I have always had a soft spot for buckskins and black horses, I may be a little biased! :wink: :D
 

Jeannie

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OldDog/NewTricks said:
The top Reining horse in the 50’s was Baby Doll a pinto – what you would call Paint now. Until the mid 60’s Pinto and Paints were Color patterns – In 64 65? The Paint Horse Assoc. came in to being and the color patterns became Tobeono & Overo (sp)


As it was explained to me by a Paint Horse breeder (and I have seen this also), Paint and Pinto's are NOT the same. Pinto's are multi-colored horses whose color bleeds into the white areas, whereas a Paint does not do that. The brown/black/red hairs will not be found in the white areas on a Paint. There is a very clear line of demarcation with Paints that is not found with Pinto's.
 

Faster horses

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...and a Paint horse must have at least one parent in the AQHA. Anyhow that is how it used to be. Now I think the book might be closed and the parents must both be registered Paints. But to start with, one parent must be registered.
 
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Faster horses said:
...and a Paint horse must have at least one parent in the AQHA. Anyhow that is how it used to be. Now I think the book might be closed and the parents must both be registered Paints. But to start with, one parent must be registered.

Nope, apparently still open book for APHA-- You can still get AQHA stallions certified as sires for APHA.. Just did so last year with my palomino stud when a fellow wanted to breed 5 APHA mares to him......
 

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