Tag Archives: communication

The Town Drunk

There are many different levels of pressure to influence animals with.  We all have a unique style that is our own, and hopefully we are trying to improve this style. I will share a story my grandfather told me several times.

There is a dam just outside of Helena, MT named the Canyon Ferry.  When it was being built there were many freight teams hauling supplies to the construction site.  There was a town drunk who, when he ran out of booze, could stop a team with his mind or something.  He would stop the team and the teamster could not get them to move until they bought this man a bottle. Then he would let the team go.  My grandfather said the fellow’s sister could do the same with birds.  She could put her hand out and birds would land in it.

I got a real nice surprise when we were working on the Horse Whisperer movie.  The Townsend Star, a local newspaper came out with an article talking about the same man my grandfather had told me about.

I have always wondered if this was a gift that this man was born with, or if we can all get to a higher level of communication with animals.

Tom Dorrance recommended a book Kinship With All Life. It is a very interesting book that is along the same lines as the guy who could communicate with the teams.

These are real interesting things to think about.  How far can we go with our communication with animals? How much do they try to communicate with us but we can’t hear them?

There are several things I have heard about that get me to thinking we are missing quite a lot.

The book Seven Experiments That Could Change The World talks about monkeys on different islands changing how they peel a banana to match the style of different monkeys that they could not see or hear.

There is a book that discusses airline pilots’ dogs getting exited when the the pilot lands
and is coming home.  They seem to “feel” when the owner is coming home.

I have heard that the elk in Yellowstone National Park have quit bugling because it alerts the wolves as to where they are.  There must be some type of communication for this to happen.

In Texas there are lots of wild pigs.  I have also heard the rattlesnakes have quit rattling because of the pigs eating them.

They say hardly any wild animals were killed during the huge tsunami that happened a few years ago.  They all went to higher ground before it happened.

So I feel we could go much farther in our communication with animals.  I really want to work on this.  Maybe in the future we will all be able to communicate with animals at another level.

So next year if we have a bull bucking for one half million dollars like we did this year, and you see all the other bulls walk out of the chute and stand there for six seconds and ours goes out and really bucks you will know I am getting somewhere with this.

~ Curt Pate

Seeing things from the inside out

We started seeing things from the top of a hill, then got down to where we could do some good.  Now let’s look at things from the inside out.

When I was a kid I started riding bulls.  I got lots of advice and instruction about how to ride bulls.  Lift on the rope, stay off your pockets, get a hold with your feet, reach for the outside horn with your free arm, and don’t let your elbow get behind your shoulder.  The problem was that when I nodded my head and the bull jumped into action, I blacked out and did not really remember anything that happened.  It took a lot of experience to get to where I could think for myself and analyze what I needed to do to get better.  It also took me quite a while to admit to myself that riding bulls is really stupid, and the thrill was not worth the risk … in my opinion.

When I first started going to some horse clinics it was like I had gone to another world of working with a horse.  Since I had been riding all my life I could think my way through situations when they got a little fast and furious and being physically able did not hurt anything.  After just a little while I thought I had it all figured out.  I could ride anything and fix most problems that came up and get horses pretty handy … in my opinion.

I used to change sprinklers on colts and would just put my lass rope around their neck and ride without anything on there head.  I really had to get the horse to thinking about me and what I wanted riding this way.  At the time I thought this was the best way to ride these horses, and at the time it was.  One day I come riding into the yard with nothing on my horse’s head and a barrel racer friend of my wife’s was there and said I was just showing off.
My father-in-law was there and said if he was showing off he would have come in at a lope.
Now that’s humor.

With the horsemanship I was doing things I had seen others doing and more.  I could ride my horses with my legs and seat and nothing at all with the bridle.  I impressed myself and thought I was about the best horseman in the world.  When I was starting a colt I could really do a lot in 2 hours.  I would always walk, trot, and lope a colt on the first ride, and most of the time swing my rope and put it under the tail.  I really felt like I was good and people that came to a demo that were good seemed to appreciate what I was doing … in my opinion.

I don’t know what happened but my desires changed.  I started to see things from what I call “from the inside out.”  A fellow I thought a lot of said that many horsemen today were “surface workers.” This is when I thought for me it would be good to work from the inside out.

This is very difficult.  It is so much easier to do the physical part.  It is so much easier to show people how to be surface workers.  To work with animals and to get them to do what you would like, without fear or resentment from the animal is what I am talking about.  You may not impress other people, and some will not get what you are doing.  I am not sure if some will understand what I am talking about.

This is a real personal.  What level you want to get is up to you.  I feel there is a point when this becomes un-teachable, and you must learn it with experience and reflection. For me this is what I must do to become the best stockman possible.  I can’t stand it when animals are in trouble.  I feel we should try to figure out how to get animals we work with to do what we want with them not suffering mentally or physically.

I do things much differently now than I have in the past.  First I saw things from the top of the hill.  I liked what I saw so I got to where the action was and learned and gained experience.  I have decided to really reach the next level I had to see things from the inside out.  I am getting so much satisfaction out of this level.  I think there may be more levels, but I am still searching.

Ego, anger, impatience, competition, and laziness will keep you from achieving your highest level.  Overcome these and work on things from the inside out.  Be the real best you can be, not just a surface worker, and you will reach a new level working with animals.

This is not an opinion, this is a fact.

~ Curt Pate

The old bull and the young bull

We were visiting about seeing things from the top of a hill. It’s a great way to see a problem shaping up or being able to see an opportunity to improve something that is happening or about to happen.

The old story that applies here is about the old bull and the young bull shaded up and out of the flies on a hill. A bunch of heifers graze into the meadow below and the young bull says “Let’s run down and breed a couple of heifers.”  The old bull gets up, stretches and said “Let’s walk down and breed them all.”

I have heard this story a bunch of times, and if you use these kind of stories to set your mind to working they can be real good.

The first thing is that you can see things from the top of the hill, but you can’t do much about it.  You must have the ambition or desire to get to where the action is.

When you see things from the hill that need attention you need to have the tools and the ability to use them.  The story does not work if two steers are up on the hill.

The old bull had experience.  He knew how to approach the situation, had the skills to take care of the situation, and maybe most important had the confidence it takes to know he could do the job.  He gained this confidence by learning from previous mistakes or when he was young he had learned from an old bull.

My grandfather always tried to get me to prepare for opportunities  that were going to show up.  He was always telling me to have some money saved and buy the bargains.  He taught me how to work hard and not be afraid to learn how to do things for myself instead of hiring it done.  He never was much for fancy, but was very strict with being organized.  This way when something needed to be done, we were ready to get it done.

He also had a saying he told me many times, especially when he had been drinking.  “If we can’t get it done, we’ll have her done.”

So it’s great to see things from the top of the hill,  but you must get to where you can do some good.  Be honest about you skills.  If you can’t get it done you better have it done.

There are some pretty smart old bulls in this world.  Learn from them.

~ Curt Pate