More Pressure


I have come to the realization that we have three kinds of pressure in cattle handling, and I believe in all things that are result oriented. Driving, drawing and maintaining are the three I speak of. Driving and drawing are the most obvious, but I feel the “maintaining pressure” is the one that we need to be most concerned with and work the hardest to develop.

My Grandfather told me of a man that could stop a team of horses someone else was driving with his mind, and the horses wouldn’t go until he got what he wanted. Ray Hunt speaks about horses acting gentle and calm while Tom Dorrance was around, and when he left they got much snortier. This is an extreme example of what I think of as a maintaining pressure.

I had a feedlot cattle manager ask me if I believe in “acclimating cattle”. This is a term Dr. Tom Noffsinger has used for settling cattle in a new environment. I believe in Acclimating every living thing I come in contact with to my pressure, and learning how to  acclimate myself to there pressure.

When I am presented with a horse for a demonstration, I start trying to learn how to communicate with the horse in the way he needs to accept my pressure from the moment I see him. The way I approach, take ahold of, groom, saddle and get on are done in a way for me to read what pressure he needs, and I and the horse learn what pressure works. It really helps me to “connect” with a horse and get more done with the least problems, and the most performance possible.

With livestock, you do the same thing. Your presence is very important. You may not know you are creating a negative pressure for the animal, but it does. We need to learn to understand when we are putting the maintaining pressure on the animal. We need our livestock to be in the physical and mental state to perform how we need them to perform. To get this we must “acclimate” them to the pressure of the environment we put them in. We need to learn how to do this, just like we need to learn how to get a horse to do what we need.

I like people, just like I like animals. When I go to a restaurant I get a lot of satisfaction out of making the waiter or waitress having the best experience they can have with me. It’s nice when they want to come to your table, rather than dread it. When I am working with a crew, and want to present some new ideas to them, I try to get them trusting me first, then instead of forcing an new rule or method, I try to get them to wanting to discuss how we can improve.

How we apply our driving and drawing pressure pressure effects our maintaining pressure. Sometimes we need to put a lot of pressure on to change somethings mind. I fell human nature is to use more pressure than necessary, and even though we get what we want, it makes it more difficult to have a high quality of maintaining pressure. If you don’t have the skill or fortitude to put enough pressure on you will overuse the drawing pressure(begging) and that will not create the maintaining pressure that is best.

We all have our own desires and goals on how we deal with living things. Some people may have a gift in higher level communication with animals and people.
If you have it great, but if not it’s up to you to work at it to get to the level you want to get to.

We will spend the next few weeks exploring how I feel on how to improve your maintaining pressure with horses, livestock, and people.

I hope I maintain your interest.

6 thoughts on “More Pressure

  1. Marcy Ward

    Curt really enjoying your blog posts! Had an interesting conversation today that I think applies. We are doing a production heifer program with youth, where they “buy”/raise a heifer that comes right off the ranch. In NM, that generally means cattle only see people a couple of times a year, and when they do it is generally stressful. One heifer is not handling the “pressure” very well. She went from a several section open environment to full confinement and hand feeding. She is now a chronic bloater who has LOST 150 lbs. Her herd mates (2 others in the program) are having no issues. Is it genetic? Is it disposition of her dam/her? I think this idea can be translated to animal health in the feedlot. New Mexico cattle have the reputation (real or perceived) of having health issues when put on feed. It may be in fact that spacial pressure is more intense with them, hence hampered immunity, and thus increased risk of sickness? But the real question should be how should cattle from large pasture/remote environments be transitioned effectively. Cost and logistics of course need to be considered. Just my 2 cents for what its worth… Thanks! Marcy

    1. curtpate Post author


      Those are questions that need to be asked before we can start a change. The answer is to teach or help them learn to accept pressure and hopefully we will get a start on that in future scoop loops.

  2. Todd McCartney

    I just got a direct quote from the young cowpuncher in the picture —

    “Glad to be demonstrating all 3 kinds of pressure.
    I’m DRAWING the other cows to me while MAINTAINING the mother cow’s attention …
    as the calf is DRIVING the air out of my lungs!”
    -Ben McCartney

  3. curtpate Post author

    I tried to put a heading under the picture when I put it up but couldn’t get it to do it. I only commented on the maintaining pressure “Young Ben” was getting, so I’m glad to see he was way ahead of me again.

    I also tried to say that Young Ben reminds me of a modern day “Newt” from Lonesome Dove.

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