Cow Working, Ranch Horsemanship and Beginner Roping
If you've always wanted to work cattle with your horse but didn't know how to start, this clinic is for you! No previous cow work or roping experience is necessary. This clinic is open to any type of horse. English or Western riders of all ages and skill levels are welcome.
Even if you never plan on working with cattle you will develop a much more responsive and handy horse by giving him the opportunity to work cattle, plus you'll have lots of fun! We'll go slow and start with the basics.
You may arrive at the Ball Ranch any time after 11:00 AM on Friday. Look for “Dabney Clinic” signs on Pleasant Valley Road directing you to the ranch. The horse barn will be our headquarters for the whole clinic. You may park and camp there along with stabling your horse there. At 1:00 PM we will gather with saddled horses in hand at the barn to begin the clinic.
We will have a short orientation and do a bit of groundwork with our horses before riding out to gather and move a herd of cattle from the pasture to the arena.
In the beginning some horses may be nervous and frightened near the cattle. We will first work through this by going slow and maintaining distance from the herd until the horses are accustomed to seeing the cattle then we will move as close to the herd as your horse is comfortable. If your horse is worried we will pair him with a buddy horse and rider that are experienced with cows until your horse gains confidence in approaching the herd and moving the cows. In this way your horse gradually learns he is dominant over the cow. When he knows the cow will not attack him and he can move the cow away, the horse gains confidence and the cow work becomes fun for him.
On Saturday 9:00 – 5:00 we will be working with the cattle in the arena and corrals. This is not for rodeo or competitive sport. We will be teaching and practicing "low stress stockmanship” for practical ranch work skills. We may do some penning, sorting and cutting, not as a timed event but rather the way a real working cowboy handles his daily tasks.
The riders may be grouped into “ranch crews” and assigned tasks that require teamwork and good horsemanship. Tasks could include such things as dividing the herd, taking certain cows to a different location in the arena and holding them there, sorting selected cows away from the herd, putting selected cows in a corral, taking cows through gates and obstacles, and holding or driving the herd in the open without using the fence or corners.
Cow work develops a much better communication and partnership with your horse. Your horse will learn how to listen to your cues and move responsively. Working with cattle gives your horse a practical reason for listening to you, really using his body to become more athletic and coordinated and moving in a variety of ways quickly, smoothly and under control with your direction. Riders will learn to properly execute specific movements which are necessary to be successful in ranch and cattle work including turn-on-the-forehand, turn-on-the-haunches, rein back, side-pass, leg yield, roll back, quick gait transitions and solid stops.
On Friday late afternoon, for riders who are are interested, we will offer beginner roping instruction from the ground on roping dummies and then from horseback. You will learn the basics including how to hold the rope, build a loop, throw several different types of loops, pull slack, dally on the horn, catch a moving dummy and desensitize your horse to the swinging rope. You do not need to own a rope or have any prior roping knowledge to participate in this instruction. We will have a variety of ropes for you to use. On Saturday you may have the chance to rope live cattle in a controlled environment.
Quote from Ed about this clinic:
Here are a few testimonials from participants in our past Cow Working Clinics:
I've ridden in this clinic times. Highly recommend. Non-intimidating environment. Hardly anyone there had worked cattle before and they had a blast. Most had horses that had never seen cattle and they all came away with a lot of confidence. I have worked a lot of cattle yet I also always come away from this clinic with new information and a smile.
I had a great time at the Cow Working clinic this week-end. I learned a lot about riding, horses, the history of riding, life on a ranch and being a cowboy in the west, and more. I appreciate your approach to horses and teaching. After a nervous start, my horse Brisco seemed to love it, especially cutting one cow out of the herd. That just seemed to line up with his personality.
Thank you again for a great clinic.
Ed, Just wanted to thank you again for your help this weekend at the Cow Clinic. It was a lot of fun, greatly benefitted my horse -- and may have saved me or someone else from serious injury due to his fear of cows. When we left, he saw all of the new cows in the front pasture. He was on high alert, but he was manageable and not dangerous!
Ed, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the clinic. Daniel and I were so proud of Spirit!…I hope you were too. Your cowboy assistants were so knowledgeable and patient with everyone, they were a wonderful asset for you. Thanks a bunch,
One of the longest lasting lessons I will take away from this past weekend was that I gained so much self-assurance in tackling something new. I never once worried about what my horse was doing. I never felt disconnected with him. I felt as one with him and that is a great feeling. This speaks volumes as to how well the overall clinic was conducted.
You, Jim, and Richard gave us all some great homework assignments. My birthday wish list includes a new Ed Dabney saddle pad and a rope!
Many thanks to Whitney Granberry for producing this video
Open Range Cow Working Clinic in Finland - September 2012
Slideshow Cow Working Clinic in Finland - May 2012