Looks like there is a theme developing this week… I went to Cavalia on Sunday, will be watching the National Reined Cow Horse Snaffle Bit Futurity in the background while I work every day, and several of my peeps are down competing at the Canadian Supreme show. Pretty funny, for a cattle girl who just a few years ago called all horses “hay burners.”
We always had a couple of horses around when we were growing up – a result of Dad having trained and shown quarter horses for years before getting started in purebred cattle. But riding never came naturally to me, and so it was easy to join in making fun of “can chasers” and the like. (sorry, gals)
It wasn’t until four years ago when Dad started competing in cow horse shows that I started to open up a bit toward the equine species. And it still took a while. I vividly recall feeling really bad for the cattle they chased up and down the arena, and thinking that surely they could at least find some better looking heifers for me to look at. Wondering what I’m talking about? Here’s a little vid.
I didn’t really understand what was happening, and had no ability at that point to see the difference in skill and athleticism between the horses. Or the riders, for that matter. So I rated the outfits, evaluated the showpads, checked out the eye appeal of the men (haha), but I had no idea how to judge what they were actually doing.
Luckily, a few of the owners and non pros who sat in the stands assessed my dismal state and took pity on me, answering my never-ending questions and explaining the finer points of cow horse. Then a couple years ago, the son of some cattle friends took up the sport. Firstly, they understand horses far better than I, but it also turns out their son is pretty handy, and so we’ve had the opportunity to travel to some of the largest shows in North America and really witness the depth of talent these horses and riders have. Countless hours have now been spent discussing and dissecting the finer points of first finding a horse with the ability and interest to compete, then getting it trained and shown successfully.
These animals are athletes. They are smart. And they develop an indescribable relationship of trust with their riders. Cow-horse horses are judged in three “events” – herdwork (cutting), dirtwork (reining) and fencework (nothing compares). That meant nothing to me the first time I saw it, but now it blows my mind. They have to have cow sense for the cutting, athleticism and finesse for the reining, and unbelievable courage, heart and stamina for the fence. There aren’t many other disciplines that require that kind of versatility.
I still have no natural skill on a horse but I now have enough interest to try. Hopefully one more winter practicing and taking lessons will have me ready to compete in 2013. Or at least not embarrass myself.
So when I saw this photo in my Facebook feed last week, I finally appreciated everything it took for the horse and rider to get there. It’s amazing how much you can learn when you open your mind and heart to something, isn’t it?
This is a 3-year-old colt, stopping beautifully and willingly in his rein work at the Snaffle Bit Futurity. Ah-ma-zing!
[photo from here]