Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What am I Talking About?

For those less savvy in the working cow horse arena, this post will be some knowledge on what the heck Im talking about when riding/working Milo for these events.

The National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) is who is responsible for working cow horse competition. It is a celebration of highly-trained working cow horses. The competition includes reining, herd work, and fence work. Some shows also have steer stopping.

In reined work, the horse executes a pattern including stops, spins, lead changes, speed changes, and circles. The purpose of this portion is to show how well trained, balanced, and resistance free the horse is. While not a timed event, the winners are determined by a scoring system based on each maneuver and the highest points win. Here is Shawn Flarida a WEG Competitor with five NRHA Open Futurity Championships, on Whimpys Little Chic executing the famous sliding stop:

In cow work, the horse works one cow and "boxes" it at the end of the arena, demonstrating the horse's ability to control the cow until releasing to to run down the fence line. The competitor must turn the cow down the fenceline at least once both directions, than control it in the center of the arena in a circle, again both directions. The rider is given a period of time to execute these manuevers correctly. The winners are placed based on the judges' highest marks. Here is Boyd Rice and his horse Mr Playinstylish turning the cow into the fence in junior working cow horse finals:

Herd work comes next where the entrant seperates a cow from the herd. This portion is much like cutting, where the horse seemingly does all of the work on a loose rein, keeping the cow away from the herd. The horse should anticipate the cow's move and easily block the cow. The exibitor is given a designated amount of time to show off the ability of your horse, so picking a "good cow" is crucial to getting high scores. Bob Avila and Light N Fine keeping the cow away from the herd:

Finally, steer stopping is an event much like calf roping, but without the final tie-up of the cow at the end. The horse is expected to set up the rider for a good catch, than stop straight and smooth, stopping the forward motion of the steer. This too is a timed event, fastest clean run wins. This event is unique to the World's Greatest Horseman competition.

Now for Milo and I, plans for high competition are none. But I do like the technical qualities needed for reining and cow work, and do find the overall Working Cow Horse Competition very exciting. I would very much like to try my hand at cutting in particular and cow work, including more one-on-one interaction with a cow instead of working them as a group, which is what you do in sorting.

Dont get me wrong, two-man sorting is a lot of fun too. The object of that competition is where you and a partner sort a group of numbered cows from one holding pen to another, in numerical order based on the number initially called out. It is a lot of fun and has a time limit. The goal is to get all cows into the other holding pen one by one in correct numerical order as fast as possible. It is high energy and lots of fun. Milo and I with Donna and Cash two-man sorting:

Not only are these events fun and exciting, they are great for the horses too. Especially for a horse that is really "cowy" and loves to work the cows.


An Image of Grace said...

How does the schedule work for Tacoma Unit? Not sure if I have room in my schedule to make it out there this winter, but might be able to hit the one at the end of November. What days are the different events on?

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I always knew some of those sports were done in the NRCHA but not all of them. Now I know what you're talking abut too!


in2paints said...

I just love cow events... I love watching the horses, especially in cutting. It is just amazing how those horses work. One day I'd like to try my hand at it, but my current pony is afraid of cows. She reminds me all the time that she is race bred, not cow bred. :)

I think it's too cool that you and Milo are able to participate in these type of events!

Story said...

The NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity starts on Monday and there will be a live stream. Our Trainer will be competing in it. I love cow horses!

paint_horse_milo said...

Oh exciting Story! Is there a live feed??

Story said...

I've posted links on my blog. :)