Tag Archives: learning

The secret to life

I have had lots of things happen in my life which have given me ideas to write about on this Scoop Loop deal.  It has helped me to understand and think about why and how I think. Writing this has been one of the most enjoyable things I have done, and hope it has been a benefit to you as well.

When I was young I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, Leonard Frank.  We were talking about steam engines, and he told me the most important part on the steam engine was the pop-off valve.  If the steam pressure got to be too much the pop-off valve popped off before the whole thing blew up.

I have not heard much more about pressure for lots of years, or if I did I don’t remember. When I got interested in learning more about working with horses, I started hearing about pressure and release.  This was very helpful in learning how to work with animals.

As time went on I ended up getting interested in reading and learning a lot about
life from different points of view such as the Dalai Lama, conversations with God, reading the Bible several times, financial gurus, meeting and talking with many very successful people, meeting and talking with very unsuccessful people, learning about quantum physics, and all kinds of other stuff.  I was putting quite a bit of information in my head.

There are so many different ideas and opinions about the so called “secret to life.”

I sat on a airplane with a young lady awhile back.  She was very outgoing and talkative. Somehow we got on the subject of life, happiness, and all the spirituality stuff, and it just kind of popped out that I thought the secret to life was proper pressure.

I really believe this is true.  The pressure we put on ourselves through action or inaction creates quality of life.  The people we choose or are forced to be around creates pressure that increases or decreases quality of life.  The kind of pressure we put on other people and animals creates quality of life.

It is so simple.  The pressure you create in your life, how you learn to accept pressure, and the kind of pressure you create for others is the real key.

So many decisions we make for immediate self satisfaction create excessive pressure in the future.  If we don’t put enough pressure on at times, it can create the need for more pressure than we can or know how to create.

Some of us can take more pressure than others.  Some of us put more pressure on than others.  If you are around situations that create more pressure than you can take, or if the situations you are around don’t create enough pressure to satisfy you, you may not be content or happy.

So from my way of seeing things, we should make all decisions based on the pressure they will create.  This could be looked at to improve things on a world scale to a personal level.

The challenge is that we don’t have a pop-off valve on the world or our personal relationships.  This is why I think it is important to learn how to create, apply and accept pressure in the amount that is proper.  It is also very important to know if you can’t take the pressure you must get it reduced or you will not be satisfied.

I think this is worth a little time thinking about and looking at the pressure in your own life. Are your decisions creating the proper pressure for you and the others around you?

With all the problems with health and happiness in our world, it looks like the next technology should be a human pressure gauge, but we may already have one.  It’s called a brain.  Use it wisely because it is also the pop-off valve.

~ 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

Incentive to learn stockmanship

To create desire there must incentive. Incentive comes in many different forms, some being monetary, peer pressure, pride, tradition, fear, laws, quality of life, and influence from others to name a few.

Lets use the example of a foreign language. Many people in the U.S. want to learn to speak a different language, but never do it. If we use the example of an immigrant from Mexico, most learn to speak or at least understand English fairly quickly. There is much more incentive when you involve all the reasons mentioned above, for the immigrant.

For someone just wanting to be able to go on a trip to Mexico, even though we would like to speak the language, we don’t have enough incentive to do it, so we learn a few words and phrases and even though we aren’t completely satisfied, it gets us by.

Stockmanship and stewardship are similar. As previously discussed, both are learned skills.
There must be incentive to put forth the effort to improve the skill, and the opportunity to learn.

With stockmanship, we have seen a huge increase in its popularity. It would be rare these days to see a cattle industry magazine, that does not have some mention of cattle handling. The reason for this is we have incentive.

Things like more laws on animal care, technology influence (i.e. undercover videos), promotion by cattle organizations, customer demand are examples of these incentives. Finally I believe it is becoming acceptable to learn about animal handling.

This is peer pressure I am talking about. The movie about Temple Grandin was a great display of this. The ideas she presented in the feed yard came under terrible resistance, and I feel it is because of two main reasons. First, the cattle handlers felt they had the high level skills to make the cattle do what they needed them to do (i.e. cow fighting skills). What was being presented was a threat to the need for that skill and because this was coming from an outsider that was not part of their culture and tradition, they felt uncomfortable with it. Second, humans don’t like change, especially if it is to much too fast.

In the past ten years or so we have seen a shift in attitude towards stockmanship and stewardship. It has been proven the consumer wants to know animals are treated properly,
Stock will gain better, sick and death loss will be less, injury to animals and humans will be less, and it is easier to train people to work animals properly, in less time.

Take some time to figure out if you have the incentive and desire to improve.

Remember…”It’s the right thing to do,” for all the reasons I mentioned above, but I feel the most important factor that should cause you to want to improve stockmanship skills is the self satisfaction and fulfillment you get from improving the way you do things.

Some of best times I’ve had working has been handling cattle, and some of the worst have been handling cattle. As I gain more knowledge and skill the good times a getting even better and the bad are few and far between.

~ Curt Pate

Learning to learn

As I mentioned earlier, I spent much of my time with my grandfathers. Ed Pate, my dad’s dad, was a get ‘er done fella and was always cowboy. Whatever it took…he was willing to do and he had the skills to do it.

My mom’s father, Lenard Frank was just the opposite. He always called his cows to get them to change pastures, did not enjoy “cowboyin,” and was always figuring out ways to trick cattle into doing things. I spent most of my time with him. It worked out pretty well because he would always have me riding a horse he was trying to fix and sell (he bought and sold horses) so I could get the ones he couldn’t coax in.

They both were very different in how they handled stock, and I was real lucky to have learned from them both. It was not a formal training, but if you made a mistake you were made aware of it. They sure told me some things, but really did not know how to explain to me what they wanted because they really did not know how.

A fella by the name of Butch Anderson went to work for Sieben Livestock, a neighboring ranch. So I started hanging around him. He was a real interesting fella that did things different than anyone I had seen, and he would tell me things to really help. He had great dogs and was a good horseman. He really got me wanting to learn.

I was riding lots of horses but did not really understand much about training horses. I could always ride a bucking horse, was not afraid of anything, and could get a job done on a real unwilling horse.

I started hearing about horse training clinics. Someone told me about a fella that was going around and putting people on colts with nothing on the head of the horse. Well I tried it, not understanding anything about it, and somehow survived. Then I did something that changed my life. I went to a clinic put on by a lady named Rene Pippinich. She showed us things that I did not even know existed on how to get a horse working for you. From then on I could not learn enough about working with horses. I rode lots of them and never stopped learning.

I worked on some real good ranches that all I did was cowboy and worked hard to improve my horse skills as well as roping and cow fighting ability. I worked around some real good hands, went to more clinics, and was really making a lot of progress at becoming a cowboy.

What I was learning was horse skills on how to be a good cowboy. A bunch of us would gather in Sheridan, Wyoming every spring and rope and brand a good number of yearlings. One of the owners of the cattle, Pat Puckett had been to a cattle handling clinic put on by Bud Williams and was telling us some of the things he learned. It was very interesting to me, so he explained some of the idea’s and we would work on them while we were gathering and sorting. I was hooked.

So now I am working on horsemanship and stockmanship. Lots of things happened about that time, and it was not to long until I was doing horse clinics all over the country.

I went to Red Bluff for the gelding sale to do demonstrations. I was interested in working with dogs and they have a show and sale at Red Bluff. I met a fella by the name of Paul Miller there. He was a top dog man and we were discussing some of the problems I was having working with my dogs. He told me that the same things I was saying about working with horses and cattle would work with the dog. That was just what I was missing.

I had horses, cattle, and dogs separate. It is all quite similar, and by trying to separate them I was missing a bunch.

Learning is such an important part of life. Learning how to learn is most likely the skill that you will get more out of than any other.

I will share some thoughts on learning:

  • When I read or listen to something I don’t try to retain it all, but put it in my subconscious mind and let it work its way out when I need it. This way it becomes mine, and not trying to copy or mimic someone else.
  • When you complete a task, take time to think about how it went. Find the positives first, then things that could be better, than implement and follow through with a plan to improve. If you improve each time you do something, and if you do it enough, you have to get good.
  • Use technology. Information travels at the speed of light these days. What used to take years to become a shared idea now only takes seconds, and it can also include movies, diagrams, and all sorts of other things to make an idea easier to understand.
  • Video and photos are excellent tools to let you actually see what you are doing, right or wrong.
  • The only way to get real good at something is to do it. There have been studies that prove if you practice things properly, subconsciously or consciously you will get better. The thing you must do is “do.”
  • Try to learn a little bit all the time. If you get in the habit of saving money, you will end up with a bunch of money in the bank, but having a bunch of knowledge in your brain is yours to keep, and even if you give it away you have the same amount of knowledge in your bank(brain).
  • The best way to increase knowledge is to teach. Take the time to show someone how to do something, or explain it with written words and you will be amazed at how much is learned, by yourself and others.

To me learning is one of the great pleasures in life.

~ Curt Pate