I'm training in Colorado, one of the many equestrian training vacations that you can take around the USA and world. Today Teddy Johnson was here to work with us, while we worked on separating a cow from its herd. This is not as easy as it may sound. Those cows are pretty fast and savvy.
Tony had a good run on Leana With Style. Tony is a strong guy and at times, even he looked like he was getting tossed around a bit. At other times, he looked like an experienced pro, even though he has only been riding cutting horses for a few days.
I was last again today, so got the chance to watch everyone else go first and learn from them. I definitely needed the help, as I had only been riding cutting horses since yesterday, for a total of about an hour and a half. I hoped that Teddy and Eddie wouldn't be too hard on me.
There are advantages and disadvan- tages of going first, middle or last in cutting horse compe- titions. You don't want to cut out a cow that has already been worked by someone else. You want your cow to be fresh, which means that if you are last, you need to watch the other people ride in the competition and remember which cows have already been worked.
If you are first, you have your pick of cows, but you also may be judged a little more stringently than the other contestants. Going somewhere toward the middle may be good, because you can spot which cows have been cut out and still have your pick of many other cows to work. With this in mind, Eddie helped me target cows that hadn't been worked yet.
I was on the no-name green horse again. We had some problems separating a cow from its friends. Since my horse is not a champion yet, he's a little greener, and I didn't yet have the skills to guide him--we weren't a very menacing pair.
Since I was having trouble with the green horse, a horse that Eddie says will one day be a champion cutter but needs some training, Eddie and Teddy let me ride Leana With Style. Eddie said that I was moving from a Winnebago to a Ferrari.
We quickly went over what I needed to do to ride. I told Eddie and Teddy that I was just going to attempt to do exactly what they told me to do out there. My heart began to race a little as Leana and I rode into the herd to separate a few cows. Eddie told me to focus on the black Angus one, who hadn't been cut yet.
After a little maneuver- ing, Leana and I had the black cow singled out. It was us against the cow.
Once we were ready, Teddy told me to drop my arm. This means that I would stop steering with my reins and use my legs instead. Now, it's hard to describe the order of events that happened next. Leana is a powerhouse.
Leana followed the cow with a vengeance. We took sharp turns, ultra quick stops, and I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride or a broncing bull in a rodeo. I had a huge grin on my face, because the ride was really fun. At one point, we were moving so fast that I started laughing, as I continued to push back on the horn and sink into the saddle.
Teddy had warned me about this. When you are laughing, you can't use your stomach and back muscles, and you need a lot of different muscles to control your horse properly.
Eddie yelled at me to stop laughing and I got really serious. I was not looking to fall off of a champion- ship horse today. It was all happening so fast. I didn't feel scared or unsafe, just that I couldn't believe that I was really riding this awesome performance horse.
I continued to try hard to keep my arm down so that I stayed out of Leana's mouth and let her do her thing. I was also using both legs to guide her forward and either my right or left leg to guide her to turn.
I started to grin again, as I worked with one more cow. I felt exhilarated and really couldn't quite believe that I had just ridden this awesome cutting horse. What an experience!
Tina, Eddie's wife, says that once you ride a cutting horse like these, you'll be hooked. I can totally see why. This game of cutting is not for the weak or timid. It is definitely for those looking for a fast paced challenge. Tony was grinning too as we headed to lunch. He was hooked, and I was wondering when I would be able to ride Leana again. For now, I would just have to remember the feeling and look back at the footage to see how I made it through that rocking ride.