Learn more about Cow Horses:
Working cow horse is a type of competition, known also as reined cow horse, where horses are asked to work a single live cow in an arena, performing specific maneuvers that include circling the cow, turning it in a specified manner, and performing a reining pattern. Horses that can perform these tasks are called "reined cow horses," "cow horses," "stock horses," or "working cow horses." Competition consists of three parts where a horse and rider are judged on their performance in a reining pattern, herd work, and "fence work". Horses are judged on accuracy, timing, and responsiveness, as well as how they handle a single cow and their ability to ride into a herd of cattle and quietly "cut" a cow from the herd.
A cutting horse is an athletic and willing animal possessing an innate "cow sense" and ability to respond quickly and turn sharply that is trained to keep a cow from returning to the herd. The horses involved are typically American Quarter Horses, although many other stock horse breeds are also used.
In the event, the horse and rider select and separate a cow (typically a steer or heifer) out of a small group. The cow then tries to return to its herd; the rider loosens the reins ("puts his hand down" in the parlance) and leaves it entirely to the horse to keep the cow separated, a job the best horses do with relish, savvy, and style. A contestant has 2 ½ minutes to show the horse; typically three cows are cut during a run, although working only two cows is acceptable. A judge awards points to the cutter based on a scale that ranges from 60 to 80, with 70 being considered average.
As the cow turns, the horse is to draw back over its hocks and then turn with the cow. The rider is centered over the horse keeping his or her eyes focused on the cow’s neck so as to anticipate the cow’s next move. The horse’s shoulders during a run are parallel with that of the cow’s. The team is judged on how the horse moves in relation to the cow. Leg aids may be used to steady a horse and keep them from falling in on the cow throughout a run.