Ego Based Horsemanship


I ordered some new DVDs from Ray Hunts website, and while watching “Remembering Ray”
some things became very clear, and it really helped with some of the thoughts I talked about in the horsemanship for stockmanship loop. I’m going to shake out a real precise loop in this discussion on my thoughts about this. If it starts to choke you down, don’t get on the fight.
Just yield to the pressure and know that you don’t fit this loop, put slack in the rope and make your own decisions. It’s just the way I swing and throw my rope, and if it helps you great, if not we can still be in the same branding pen, just on different sides of the corral.

He discussed how he got to go to Nevada and worked on cow outfits with real good stockman. The tradition of handling stock in that area was and still is about handling cattle right. They gathered cattle and moved em smooth and held them up and branded in the open in a rodear or what I think Ray Hunt was calling a rodeo. They rode good horses and they were proud of the way they handled livestock. When I watched the next DVD on horsemanship it was all about riding your horse in a way that was to keep them balanced to move in any direction, and wait for you and be ready to go at any time. He really was thoughtful of how he communicated with the horse, and being effective with his ways of getting the horse to work for him.

I am learning much from watching these and you would to. I will watch them a bunch.
The reason is because it fits what I am trying to do. Several years ago I decided for what I wanted to do, Ray Hunts horses worked just how I wanted mine to so this is what I studied.
The thing that appeals to me is the balance the horse is in to go strait, stop strait, move the front end where you want it as fast or slow as needed, and the same with the hind quarters.
His horses took very little to get them to go and very little to get them to stop. It was as if they were reading his thoughts. The thing that I really noticed that was different was how there was no thumping and spurring to get them to move. Just a slight change in posture and they responded.

I was real lucky to get around a lot of different horse clinicians. Many had real big followings and were very popular. All different styles and personalities and great presenters and entertainers. People got a lot of good from most of them and got what they were looking for, but for me it just didn’t give me the satisfaction I needed, and I never fit that style.

While working with Purina, doing a lot of horse fairs I got to be around Buster MacLaury. He fit what I liked and I learned so much in the time I spent with him. He was different and I didn’t realize why. After watching these DVDs of Ray I figured it out. When your horsemanship is truly based on working cattle right, as Buster was raised, your horsemanship and cattle handling is not “ego based” but tradition and result based.

When you are doing horsemanship just to be doing horsemanship it becomes ego based, about what your horse is supposed to look like. Your doing it just to prove how good you are. I’m not saying this is bad, just a different outcome than I am interested in. It doesn’t make me feel good.

I got another good example of this a while back. My daughter was on a ranch rodeo team and we went and watched. Mesa is all about working cattle right, and her bucking bulls really handle good. She is a very good horse-hand and works very hard at doing things the way she thinks is right. I was so impressed with how she performed that day. Her horse was right on, and when she roped something her horse stopped and held. She could build to one, get it roped, and her horse that she raised and trained all on her own did great. She was so proud of her horse “Dakota” and so was I. Proud of both of them.

When I go places and see folks that are doing horsemanship that is ego based, and they try to rope, or help do cattle work, fast or slow, often times they are late with pressure or don’t put the right kind on. It works great in the arena doing drills, but when it comes to real work, they have to be on the defense because they can’t time the pressure on the cow. The worst is when the horse is soft but not responsive, and the horses chin is on his chest but the feet don’t stop. Then they have to thump and spur to get them going again. I am always thinking “your late”. The main message that I hear on the Ray Hunt DVD is get to the horses feet. I heard Buster saying, and saw him doing the same thing. Mesa doesn’t say it but she does it.

I was not friends with Ray Hunt. I don’t want to give that impression. In my trying to learn how to be a better stockman, there are many people that I try to learn from. I will say this, I have not learned the most about working cattle from cattle handlers. When I first went to a colt starting clinic for the first time and Buck Branamann turned about 15 saddled colts loose in the arena and started flagging them around and moving them I didn’t understand what was going on. As I watched more, saw Ray Hunt and other folks doing it, then got to doing it myself, I learned and understood how important controlling the movement and the mind of animal is.

When you are going to get a bunch of people (some that should not be) on a bunch of colts and have them survive, you better get them handling pretty good and control the movement of the herd. You are handling the horses and saving wrecks. You learn to be where you need to be.

When you see someone work a horse right in a round pen and get them to walk, trot, lope, stop strait, and turn into and away from you, you would be able to the same thing with a beef animal.

As Ray Hunt says it’s feel, timing, and balance for horsemanship. Add position in and it’s the same working cattle.

So this is where I learned the most about working cattle in a more effective way. You can to.



2 thoughts on “Ego Based Horsemanship

  1. Zach Johnson

    Hey Curt,
    This a good article. I haven’t visited with you since your PLI visit in West Point, MS years ago.I hope all is well with you and your family. See ya

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