Third in a series of understanding the why of and where from the rules begin.
I will continue to preach the rules are all about the herd and what is fair in working a herd. It has always been about the herd. It will always be about the herd. Cutting is built on being fair to all. When you do what is best for the herd, it is what is best for you. It worked out this way because it won’t work any other way. This month, though, we will go from being fair to having the best horses in the world. Very simple steps.
Rule No. 3: Riding with a loose rein throughout a performance is a requirement and will be recognized.
The first two rules emphasize preventing the herd from being disturbed, respecting the rights of everyone in fairly handling a community property while efficiently working all the cattle. Like belling the cat, saying it and doing it are not the same. How do you make that smooth deep cut anyways? Then drive out? What shows off your horse?
You do have 2 1/2 minutes to show your pony to his or her best ability.
First, the herd must remain quiet and calm. A horse who has no cow sense and must be two-handed and jerked around with the reins is both late and erratic. Erratic and error both start with “err,” both bad. Moving quick around spooky cows and horses is bad, very bad. Cutting horses are trained with very talented hands but ridden with feet. Good horses and riders are one, rider thinks, horse goes. Rider, horse and cow, all feeling each other out. Just a feeling, a twitch, a step and an easy, nice cut is made. Instinct in both. Smooth and fluid.
We have all seen and many of us felt the magic of “thinking” where we wanted a pony to go and it had left for that spot three seconds before that thought. And got there four seconds before that. One thousand pounds of flesh completely wired into you. One thing.
We come mounted on horses who have more perception than a suspicious mother at a high school dance. They know one hoof moved here will make the cow move there. That extra ounce of cowperson on a back pocket means “freeze and wait.” A relaxed easy way in the saddle brings confidence to a horse. Horses that look at cows like border collies do sheep or pointers do quail or teenage boys do teenage girls. They have a chunk of cow DNA.
Where did we get these horses? We bred them. We are them. When the herd was being held up, when it was being worked, when thousands of things were important, everyone saw everything. There are no little things in work like this. They only seem little when they go right. There no secrets in cutting. It may be unseen because you don’t look or listen, but it is not hidden. People noticed when one pony was calmer in the herd. When one was more alert to get to work. When a horse and rider seemed to have an easier time of bringing cattle out. People took note of a horse that was smarter quicker. They watched carefully to catch a moment of brilliance. Who doesn’t appreciate a craft you love done well? They might even beat you. You want to be beat by just anybody? Or the best? I live to see the best. I want to know these things. I learn something every time I watch a horse work.
Seeing things make sense needed to be remembered. Pretty was a luxury most could not afford. A bonus but a luxury. What they and us today look for is a body that can do what we need. Today the “stop” is everything. It takes a lot of backend parts to stop, turn and launch half a ton in a micro second. Strong hocks and stifles. The neck joining the body far down to help keep the head low and the center of gravity lower. Neck muscles like steel springs. Explosive power. Cat-quick reaction time, actually quicker. All of this and more, coupled together to create a smoothness that is beyond my ability to explain. A blessing to ever have one with it all.
With owners, “Reps” and herd holders by the dozen, watching intently as horse and rider did their work, good cuts stood out. When time after time a horse stood out, comments and opinions came together. Later, talk would get around to a particular horses, eventually getting to the important part. Blood. When horse people see horses do great things and then find out who their daddy is … well, we know what happens then. If I was a betting man, a cow person on an exceptional horse doing outstanding work would be supplementing his income with a little selective animal husbandry.
Reins hanging loose say so much about what we do. Getting the job done with no superfluous movement. The barest and least. Every move back in the day was potentially a stampede starter. No one wise ever took that risk. Mistakes like this were dangerous at worst and a waste of resources at the least.
“Throughout the performance,” working as one smooth transition from sort, cut, drive and back to herd. This glass like smoothness that says so much so quiet.
The loose rein rule drives our breeding programs. It shows instinct. It shows trainability. It shows cow sense. It shows horsemanship. A combination of talent and work put to a purpose.
There it is right there. “And will be recognized.”
Read more: http://quarterhorsenews.com/index.php/news/industry-news/11402-cornbread-thinks-judging-rule-no-3-loose-reins.html#ixzz1yk81X0o7
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