That’s No Bull. Training Horses On The Ranch.
- September 22, 2014
- Jenn Zeller
I started trailing bulls home this week. Their 60 days with the cows are up. Bringing bulls home is probably one of my favorite parts of ranch work. For the past several years on the ranch, it’s been solely my job.
Depending on where the bulls are, how much time I have that day, and what the weather is, it takes me between two and four days to gather them all up, as a general rule. I love the solitude and the fact that it gives me a chance to help my horse or colt really focus and helps me make them better.
As I trailed home the first of 12 bulls this year, it occurred to me, while I rode behind #191, also known as “Slow Poke”, how trailing a bull isn’t really that much different than teaching your horse to change eyes. If I need him to go a bit more to the right, I can pick up a soft feel, get my horse in frame and leg yield him to the right, forcing him to find me out of his right eye, thus leading him to the right. The same would be true if I desired the bull to go the other way. Soft feel, slight lateral flexion and a leg yield to the left.
These maneuvers prepare my horse for many moves he’ll make in his life, be it cow work, turning a barrel or simply being well-broke and soft. This particular day it was also drizzling and began to really rain on us as we were headed home. The rain was coming from the Northeast, and we were going South. Poor Dino was certain he should turn his hips to the rain to protect himself, but that wouldn’t put him in a favorable position to help, should Slow Poke decide to become uncooperative. But, he was presenting me with a good opportunity – freeing up his hips. I don’t think they can ever be too free. Asking for his hips to go right, when they wanted to go left was more challenging, but I didn’t have to do much to get his hips to float back to the left. Make the right thing easy, I always say. Take advantage of the opportunities the horse presents to you. Do as little as possible, but as much as is necessary.
Next time you’re out with your horse, look for the opportunities he presents. See if you can’t find something that will be easy to accomplish, with as little work from you as possible.
About Jenn Zeller
Jenn Zeller is the creative mind and boss lady behind The South Dakota Cowgirl. She is an aspiring horsewoman, photographer, brilliant social media strategist and lover of all things western. After a brief career in the investment world to support her horse habit (and satisfy her...