Sorting

This is my trick horse Rusty showing that he really is a working ranch horse.

He has been trained almost completely with positive reinforcement, is ridden seldom, and actually works like this even less.

I hear fairly often that people don’t have time to teach silly tricks because they are busy working on ‘real’ training.

Because of our silly trick training Rusty knows how to learn. He listens closely to everything I have to say and I have a clear well defined way to tell him “yes, that is exactly what I want”. He is able to figure out quicker what our goal is that way.

I may not be able to click him for every time he turns good with a cow, but I can every time the cow goes through the gate before we go for the next one.

He learned after just a couple of times that when I lay my hand on the back of his neck and say ‘that’s good’ that we are done with that cow and to stop tracking her.

This wasn’t one of our best sorts. Hard to work well and hold a phone at the same time We got a cow we didn’t want through the gate because of me messing around with my phone instead of keeping my full attention on what we were doing. Oops.

Look how calm Rusty is though. No head tossing. Working well one handed, bitless too.

The trick training comes in handy when it’s time to work but more work would also help with his all around training.

Nothing gets a horse listening better than cow work. It’s slow, easy there, then quick, hurry up as fast as you can. Now slam on the breaks and turn. The steering calls for exact precision to push one cow forward out of the herd while stopping and turning back the cow next to her. Every drop of it builds trust and communication between horse and rider.

These were the last of the cows that didn’t have calves sorted out of the calves and cows who appeared to have calves judging by their bags. The last ones are always the hardest but thanks to Rusty the job was a lot easier.

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