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Cow Horse Confidence

February 28, 2011

An aggressive cow could shake the confidence of a young cow horse.

Question

Hello Al,

I have a 3-year-old gelding that I thought was going nice on a cow. I had him working for a couple of weeks. He’d hold a cow in the corner, fence and push a cow that wanted to push him. Then one day I was working some cattle in a pasture, and I came on a real angry little heifer.

In all, she charged him four times, he turned on her twice and let her have both hind legs, but she still wanted to come at him. Then he quit her. I then worked two other cows, and he was a little off them but did his job and penned them.

I have not worked him since that day as I hurt my ribs later the same day. Why did he quit her, and if it happens again, how do I fix it?

Regards,
Stephen Cox
Ireland

Answer

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for your question about your young cow horse.  Three year olds are very impressionable, and it’s easy to shake their confidence.  When an aggressive cow charged her, it had to scare or worry her.  Most good cow horses are a bit afraid of cattle anyway.

Horses that are aggressive toward cattle usually do not handle and continue to stay under full control during confrontation.  We want an individual that allows us to control and dictate the movements, but still has ‘cow sense.’

Our horses “give ground” when charged.  I try not to put the colts under this duress but prefer to use older more solid, tougher-minded horses with more training.  A horse that kicks a cow is in “fear and flight,” –  a defensive mode.  This can cause injury to the horse’s mind and body. I want to put my horses in a “win” situation and keep their confidence.

– Al Dunning
www.teamadinternational.com