Stop-Slide-Spin-Box-Fence-Circle—What a Working Cow Horse Does

The Cowboy State Stock Horse Association (CSSHA) focuses on promoting the Stock Horse through education, clinics, practices, fun, and showing in our Working Cow Horse and Ranch Horse Competitions. All aspects of a competition grew out of the need to handle cattle from horseback on the open range, and get the cowboy’s work done caring for cattle.

At CSSHA, Working Cow and Ranch Horses must be bi-athletes. They are required to compete in reining patterns and individual cow work. And sometimes they must be tri-athletes when herd work is added into the competition. A series of scores from the judge will determine their success.

Reined work, often referred to as “dry work,” involves the completion of reining maneuvers including loping circles, flying lead changes, sliding stops, roll backs, and 360 degree spins. A set reining pattern is selected by the judge prior to the event which all contestants must perform. This pattern is posted just prior to the competition.

The cow work, or “fence work” begins when a single cow is released into the arena and the horse is asked to hold or “box” the cow at one end of the arena, then run the cow down the fence and make turns in each direction. (To add to the challenge, the first turn on the fence must be made after the cow has passed the center of the arena.) While you are working the cow “down the fence and circling” you must maintain working advantage which means you and your horse should be within a cow’s length of the animal. Points are deducted from your score when this working advantage is lost. Lastly, the cow is maneuvered off the fence into the center of the arena and “circled” in each direction.

Herd work is similar to cutting where a single cow is cut from a herd of cattle and prevented from returning to the herd by the intervention of the horse and rider. The purpose of this exhibit is to show the judge that your horse will enter the herd quietly, pass among the animals, move a group to the center of the arena, select one animal from this reduced number and separate it from the others and eventually control this animal. Most times at least 2 additional riders are employed as “turn back riders” to encourage the animal to return to the herd when the cutting is complete. A time limit of 2 1/2 minutes is allowed for this activity. Again a series of scores will determine your success.

In a Ranch Horse Competition, circling the cow in the center of the arena is replaced by roping the cow. The contestant must throw the rope over the cow’s head, dally the rope on the saddle horn, and stop the cow until it faces the horse and rider. In addition to roping the cow it is typically maneuvered around obstacles in the arena depicting real life circumstances such as moving the cow through a gate or into a pen. Again a scoring criteria determines the outcome.

CSSHA Mission Statement:
The Mission of the Cowboy State Stock Horse Association (CSSHA) is to promote the use and showing of the stock horse by obtaining and disseminating related information to the members. To promote stock horse competitions, exhibitions and clinics, which provide services for our members and encourage participation in stock horse events.

For more information or to get a copy of our Rule Book, contact any of the CSSHA officers:
CSSHA Officers 2015
President - James McCray 307-850-9011
Vice President – Sammi Philleo 307-851-5839
Secretary – Shannon LeGault (307) 240-4772
Treasurer – Dave Clark 307-349-0551
Reporter - Paula McCormick 307-332-5546/332-4202 paulamcc@bresnan.net

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