Monday, January 14, 2013

Judges Seminar

I went to a National Reined Cow Horse Association judging seminar a couple of  weekends ago.  I am not sure, but I think that I was more confused after it was over than I was before I got there. 

The seminar is for those who are doing their continuing education or need to test for their judges card.  Needless to say - there were some pretty heavy hitters there.  Two of my favorite riders were there - Sandy Collier and Lyn Anderson - those ladies can get the job done!  Skip Brown, Smoky Pritchard and Kenny Wold were also in attendance.  Bill Enk was the presenter.  I went with a friend and we were running a little late. We got there and sat down in the first available spot.  Turns out that we were at the same table as Skip Brown, Ken Wold and Smokey Pritchard.  I am never one to sit in the front row or draw attention to myself. This was definitely the wrong table to be at.  Bill Enk is a character and he likes to involve the room in his presentations. These stoic men sitting a seat or two down from me were going to be prime targets for his shenanigans. 

I am going to do this in 3 parts.

Part one: Herd Work
We watched videos of runs from the Snaffle Bit and other large shows and tried to decipher what was good and what wasn't. Even though I have watched the herd work a million times and I have taken lessons and even showed a couple of times it is still so new and elusive to me.  After we have judged a couple good runs we went over the penalties.  That is where they show you what NOT to do. I think that I would have done better in my judging if I saw the penalties first and then saw a good run. Either way, sitting in a conference room passing judgement on some of the best riders...some sitting a seat or two down - felt down right awkward.  Sandy Collier was one of the examples of a "not so good" run. She handled it like a professional. She took the microphone and walked us through what was going on.  Her ride was an example of switching cattle -which she didn't actually do.  But that was a whole lot easier to tell when you had slow motion and could replay it 5 or 6 times.  The judges spoke about "courage" a lot.  Courage isn't going in and blowing the herd apart and getting it done quickly, but it is about taking the intuitive to drive your cattle out and really showing control and making something happen.  I thought back to my runs in the herd work. I knew that I was more at ease when the cow worked slowly and I felt like I was in control.   And that is how I have been taught  to work a cow - slow and methodical.  I realized while watching the good runs that even though my cow didn't get away from me, I wasn't ever really "in control".   In the show pen, you have to step up your game. Next time I get a slow cow, I will try to get a little more aggressive and hopefully show some courage.  I am also going to try to show that I can control the cow and work it in the middle the pen - not let it go fence to fence.  Semper goes into the herd like a pro. He moves slowing and pays attention to my instruction.  Where we get into trouble is not pushing the cow out far enough.  When I get my cow out of the herd he really doesn't "hook-on" like a cow horse should. He will follow my direction and about 50 seconds into a run, he gets the hang of it. By then it is too late.  Another one of my big dilemmas is when and how to quit a cow.  I learned that if the cow stops facing you and does not move, you can quit. It is like the cow has "given up" or "surrendered" to you. You can also quit if the cow turns tail and moving away from you. Completely moving away. Not at an angle where they can swing their head around and look at you.  They have to be gettin' out of Dodge. 

Part two - Dry Work
is for another day....

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