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Friday, April 3, 2009

Cutting Buffalo...A First for Me

I'm finally getting on track with some herd work for Colt. It's truly been a long winter and an even longer anticipation of spring weather...the wind has been brutal. But, my first cutting show is April 11, and we hadn't actually cut cattle since last September at the futurity!! We've done some electric string cow practice at Todd's and dry work at home. That's good, but not like the real deal.

There aren't too many choices for real herd practice out here (unless you own your own cattle). But Bob Kerby is a cutting horse trainer who lives 50 miles to the west, and is a great teacher. So, I've got weekly lessons lined up with him.

I knew he had buffalo and would get to practice on them eventually. Yesterday was the first time...and it was a blast!

Colt had never seen a buffalo before, and when the first one was let into the 120 ft round pen, he was thinkin' that he wanted out of that pen!! Boy, did he get all puffed up and tight...I sat as deep as I could in that saddle. These buffalo are just yearlings, so they aren't really very big, but this first one was fast and a runner.

After Colt took a huge startled leap to the left as he saw the buffalo come charging into the pen toward him, he just kept facing the monster...good boy. My friends Deb and Dawn were there to practice too. So, Deb took this one and the rest of us kept by the gate.

I'm watching Deb and talking to Dawn...Dawn said that this is one of the slowest ones...I'm thinking to myself that this is going to be a total disaster for is Colt going to keep his head with that much speed?

Here's what I learned about working buffalo...
  • They aren't very smart
  • They work similar to cattle
  • They will keep moving until they get tired
  • They don't realize that if they stopped, they'd be done
  • Some are fast, some are slow
  • You can work them the very next day, and they don't remember a thing from the day before
  • They're hard on fences and one took down a heavy metal gate and ran across their holding pen with, he didn't get hurt
That's my unofficial opinion/observation of buffalo as of today.

Then Bob got out another one...for me...a slow one. And it mostly walked and trotted a lil', did some slow turns. This allowed Colt to get used to being close up to it, and he locked onto it immediately...Colt is cowy that's for dang sure...he loves cows.

After about 10 minutes of that, we decided we were ready for something with a lil' more pizazz. Ha, Bob was getting tired of having to get the buffalo to turn...he was on foot!

But, Dawn took her turn. She's an incredible lil' gal. She's married and has raised 3-4 kids, and has MS...if I ever feel out of sorts, I think of her...she gives us all great inspiration. Dawn has a new horse this year; a seasoned cutting horse of 16 years...and very well taken care of in his past...he's perfect for her...solid as a rock. She'll be riding him in the open...that horse can make some beautiful deep turns.

Ok, Colt and me are up again, and Bob says the one with the purple tag is "just right" for us...and it was! Not too fast...not too slow...just right! We worked on the sequence...stop, load, turn. Meaning that Colt needs to stop, load his weight onto his rear end, get his feet in the right position to make a correct turn, and then turn.

I was totally pleased with the work. He was listening, responsive, locked onto the buffalo, and trying his heart out for me...that's what I like so much about Colt. Bob helped me a lot with getting my body in better position for more effective cues. The last three turns felt awesome, and we quit on an excellent note! OH...and I had him in the hackamore the whole time!!! We've only ridden in it 5-6 times. I brought my snaffle with me just in case, but we didn't need it!

Do I have any pics...nope...not a one!!! I kicked myself in the arse all the way home for not getting the camera out and taking some shots...ok, next week!

But, I do have one pic of a dirty horse who had just rolled after taking his saddle off...eating dinner like he hadn't been fed for days...I do believe he worked up an appitite~~

Thanks for the ride Colt~~



Andrea said...

Wow! That sounds like a great ride! What a good boy your Colt is.

Anonymous said...

I am totally jealous!!!!!

mugwump said...

It's funny how we perceive things.I always felt the buffs were pretty smart.They worked every day because they were trainable and felt like it was more of a game than an attack.(that's how I saw them anyway)
I used to take care of the buffs at the cowhorse place I worked out of.
There was one who would come and lick my hand while I watered.I thought it was the coolest thing.
The same buff would butt a ball back and forth to us in the arena.

Tracey said...

Oh! Curt works buffies over cattle, too! I desperately want to get Steve Holt! on a buffie, but I am told we are not ready. I'm jealous. Green with envy. I think I'll pack my bags and head for Harney County this weekend. Put Steve Holt! in the trunk of my car and come cut buffalo with you.

Mikey said...

Awesome!! I've always wanted to do that. You better take some pics next time missy!!

gtyyup said...'s your turn to make a visit here (virtually of course!)

Mugs...well, that's why I put "as of today"...I leave myself open for a change of opinion! Next week could be a whole new story! That's totally interesting about the one playing ball with you...he must have trained with Parelli...oops...did I say that ;~)

Come on down should come with Andrea when she comes for her TIP horses...I really will be at the Wild Horse Corrals this time!

Mikey...I promise...still kickin' myself in the arse...even better would be to get My Man off work so he can take the pics!

mugwump said...

I love it - A parelli buff.I'm going to be laughing at the pictures it brings to mind all day!
We didn't know that's what we were doing when we played ball. I thought it was one too many beers at the end of the day.
I do know we were not the smart ones dinking around with that buffalo. They are not the friendliest things I've ever met.

the7msn said...

What a total blast. Looking forward to more of your lesson notes.

Reddunappy said...

I have always wanted to try cutting, watching a good cutting horse just gives me the goosebumps!!!!

Vaquerogirl said...

Hey- Les Vogt just posted a blog about his buffalo! To find his blog, look my in blog Remuda. Buffalo sure make a horse sit up straight and pay attention don't they?

gtyyup said...

Yep, Mugs...we could bring a whole new meaning to the term "naturally raised meat"!!

Thanks Vaquerogirl...I'll check out what he has to say.

Kathleen Coy said...

Yes, definitely take pictures next time, I would love to see that!

Celeste said...

Good Job Colt! That is fantastic that he got the measure of the buffalo so quickly, you must be really pleased with him. A well earned roll and a feed after a hard days work :)

wilsonc said...

I went a few years ago and watched a friend cut buffalo down in Turner. It's a lot of fun to watch. Don't think I could stay with the horse myself, but maybe I'd surprise myself.

Pony Girl said...

That is an exciting day! Would have loved to see pics of the buffalo, and Colt's face when he first saw them, LOL! I bet you are really proud of your boy. Looks like he thought he earned that meal!
p.s. Tracey and I from Mustang Diaries were contemplating moving to Harney County today. Do you really have 300 days of sunshine!? ;)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oooh Jeez!! I would have SO loved to have seen some video or Colt cutting those buffalo! He rocks!
And you, too. You had no idea how he'd do with the buffalo..and you kept your cool. You know, I'd have fallen off with Colt's leap to the left. *cringe* lol!

April 11th, you say?! That's next week, girlfriend! Whoooeee!

By the way, I was giggling listening to your playlist "The Screen Door". I've said many of those things to my own kids...too many times! LOL!


gtyyup said...

Pony Girl...we may have 300 days of sunshine (not sure if that's actual or not), but it's 16 degrees this morning! It's dry and the wind has been awful this spring. So, you take the good with the bad. I definitely wouldn't move back to your side of the mountain in the Willamette Valley where I was raised!

Thanks Lisa~That Screen Door song just hits home doesn't it? Glad you enjoyed it.

kdwhorses said...

Ya for you and Colt! Buffalo are fun to work with! One of our good friends is a cutting horse trainer and he uses buffalo to train with. They are heartyer than cows. I hope to get a chance to work "Willis" on them real soon. Girl, camera, take pics! Jeez work with us here! LOL! I've done that a bunch. I like to have pics to look at as well, to look at how I was riding, the horse, etc.
Can't wait to see pics! Wish we lived closer we could run together!

Shirley said...

I worked buffalo on Coyote Belle's mama years ago, loved it! They do last longer than cows, but if you get a rank one, they'll go right through your horse. I sure wish I had the opportunity to start Beamer on cows; maybe after we move I'll get the chance.

C-ingspots said...

Oh wow, that sounds like a blast!! Kudos for the Coltster too - he's a very brave boy staring down his nose at a buffalo! They can be scary. Remember that herd at the Flying M?? Big, hairy monsters!! There's a guy up the road from us that uses buffalo for cutting too - Jim Spence - he's a reiner trainer. I'm glad you had fun. I'd like to try cutting something slow on Harley. He likes to sit his rear end down and do pretty little turns - it would be fun to try! Neither one of us has any experience though - we'd need some lessons for sure. Maybe someday...

Ed said...

Great post! Colt rocks! I'm jealous, not for the ride but for the photographic opprotunity to shoot Buffs...:-)

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm totally jealous too! That sounds like great fun. I had heard about buffalo being used to practice cutting but didn't know exactly how they worked. Sounds like it's good experience for the horse and rider both to deal with a little bit different critter.

CTG Ponies said...

Excellent work!!

Country Whispers said...

Thanks for stopping by and I'll add you to my giveaway list.
Have a great day, hopefully a warmer one than we are having here today!

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