Tag Archives: life lessons

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

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