Convenience Store Critcism

I was traveling home from Colorado a while back and we stopped in Sheridan, Wyoming to fuel up at about 11pm.  While in the store a ranch couple came in and I introduced myself. The gentleman had seen me do a demonstration in Florida and was a little critical about how I worked the cattle.

I didn’t really expect to be criticized in the middle of the night in a C-store, but I have been getting pretty used to the criticism. He was not wrong in criticizing me, but I feel he missed the real problem and mistake I made.  He said I had to many cattle in the “Bud Box.”  I am not sure if that really mattered, because the real mistake I made was not preparing the cattle better before I went into the box with them. The Brahman bulls we were working were a stick-together kinda bunch.

I had talked too long and did not take the time to get them ready for working in the box properly. I could not only bring part of them so I just went with what I could in the time I had.  I learned from the first demo and then got along pretty well in the following 5 or 6 that we did.

I learned from my mistakes.  The challenge is when you do things in public everyone sees the mistake, but never see what you learn from the mistake.

It bothers me when people criticize me, as it does a lot of people.  I am doing my best to help folks figure out better ways to work with animals.  I never “pre-prepare” animals to work if I am in control.  I just let ‘er roll and see what happens.  If it works like it says in the books and movies that’s great. If it is a wreck, I feel people learn how to adjust to fit a situation or see how not to do something.  For me this is the only way I will do things or I would not enjoy my work.

If I get criticized by someone who is really good at something that does not bother me much, especially if they tell me to my face.  The ones that really bother me are the ones that don’t have the guts to talk to me about it.

I offended a friend one time by questioning the “one rein stop” in horsemanship and he did not hesitate to give me his opinion.  We are not friends anymore so I guess we really were not that good of friends.  Buster MacLaury read the same article, did not agree with it, wrote his own article explaining his thoughts, and I and many more people learned from his point of view.  I hope we are still friends, because he is a very good person to horses and humans.

One of the reasons I started writing this so called “Scoop Loop” is because of a criticism written about me in the Stockmanship Journal.  I am so thankful to Whit and Lynn, because I am enjoying writing so much, and I feel I am getting better at sharing and learning my ideas on stockmanship and stewardship.

I am guilty of being very critical of some of the folks in the horsemanship world.  I had to learn that not everyone has the same ideas.  I don’t like to sell things to people to make them a better horseman, and actually think it takes away from the actual horsemanship skills. But I now realize if you offer someone a shortcut, or what seems to be a shortcut, they will take it.  That’s just the way it is.  Who am I to judge someone for paying the bills on someone else’s needs?

The challenge for me is when I feel horsemen are putting too much or the wrong kind of pressure on an animal and then it has trouble with the pressure.  You must do too much to learn how much is too much, but I feel we should be way farther along in this area.  Many of the horse clinicians I have seen put a lot of pressure on, but talk about how natural or kind they are being to the horse. I hope they are learning from their experiences.

So I have quit being critical of others to others.  I think what I think but mostly keep it to myself. Most people involved in the cattle business are really trying to help cattle handling improve.  We may have different ideas and methods, but pretty much everyone has the animals’ best interest in mind.  This is a very good thing.

I worry when I hear talk of the Bud box being superior to the tub, or curved alleys being better than straight , or what kind of driving aid is the best.  This is the same as which halter or lead rope is best in the horse world.  The main focus needs to be on the skill of handling not what is your choice of equipment.

A problem that I think happens is when we become enamored with an instructor, and try to do everything how they did it.  From what I have observed, it is very hard to be someone else and interpret the way they think.  It would be way better to learn from someone but use their knowledge in your own style, not in a copying manner.  Just because you have the same hat, saddle, or use the same equipment or words, and try to move in the same manner does not mean you will be successful.

Tom Dorrance said many times you should feel like you could ride your horse up a telephone pole or down a gopher hole.  I doubt he told anyone what type of equipment to use to do it, and I am pretty positive he did not try to sell them the equipment if he did suggest something.

So I apologize for any unfounded criticism I have thrown out there.  Also I hope people know that when I voice my opinion it is my opinion, and just because it may be different than there own, I not trying to offend, and if I think your opinion is worth listening to I will try to learn from it.

I still don’t like to be criticized, but it is certainly a good way to fuel my fire to get better.
So thanks to all of you that have criticized me publicly.  I am sure plenty of folks are pretty critical of what I do in private discussions as well.  I know in my heart I am trying to do the right thing for humans and animals, and am willing to make mistakes, but hopefully not the same ones over to many times.

The one person that I get concerned with when she criticizes me is my wife, Tammy. She has stuck with me and supported me through all my mistakes, and had the confidence in me to know I would get it figured out.  When she has criticized, I am really in the wrong and she has not missed on that too many times. Now that is a good wife!

Buck Brannamann gave me a copy of the The Man in the Arena a long time ago.  It is very good and maybe everyone should look at it once in a while.

~ Curt Pate


6 thoughts on “Convenience Store Critcism

  1. Erik Tucker

    What a great blurp. I want to tell people its chaos. Land and livestock mangers need to know about it. Thats why we spend some much time learning. You are pretty darn good at what you do and people need to see the real thing to learn how to do the things that need to happen.
    Low stress stockmanship is for people who care enough to know about livestock. How to get it done out in life where there is nothing sometimes but chaos to work in.

  2. Kent Shipe

    I have a question. How do I prepare my cattle for the Bud Box? I have a Bud Box but the cattle do not go into the chute leading to the head gate as well as they should.

  3. curtpate Post author


    I will tell some problems I see. People don’t put the cattle in the box fast enough, and when the cattle start up the lead up to the chute the pressure in front of them stops the momentum or flow. This is the advantage of the position of the handler in the box. You can apply the proper pressure in the box to get them to come by you but still be in the correct position to pressure up the chute. Cattle that don’t respond to pressure are difficult to get good flow out of the bud box. The gentler they are the farther to the back of the box you get, then when they go you are to far back to pressure the front to keep the flow going up the chute, or more than one tries to go up and that stops flow. The cattle should almost be trotting when they go into the box, no matter the disposition. If they can’t take your pressure in the box you need to work on the outside. With sensitive cattle this is much safer. Hope this helps. If I missed the problem your having we will try again.


  4. Ron McDaniel

    Once again, well done. You’ve always been the real deal and took it as it came rather than choreographing a show. Keep up the good work and the writing.

  5. Alan French

    Hi Curt,
    I enjoy reading your thoughts here. I am not a stockman or a rancher as you know, but I am interested in animal and human welfare. I spend most of my time with business owners interested in “doing the right thing”, whether serving the community or managing their “flock”.

    Gustave Flaubert (French Writer) said “There is no truth, just perspective”. As we get older, we get to realise this. We can believe passionately that the right way to treat and manage a herd is X, but in reality, folks can do it differently and get similar results. Whats important is the goal. I don’t know your colleagues in the industry, and “avarice” aside, I suspect that many of you are seeking the same goals in stockmanship.

    If we believe strongly in doing the right thing, we have a duty to share our views aka perspectives, so that we may learn and innovate for the wider good. I know we like to be liked and criticism is hard sometimes. I try to teach folks to criticise the idea, not the person. Anyone who has the cahoonas to stand up and be counted for what they believe and achieve, be humble and respectful of others “perspectives”, and admit mistakes and change their approach is a true leader.

    Keep leading Curt!


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