Tuesday, April 7, 2009

And Here's Another Cowboy.....

I am working on a magazine article about a young man named Blue Allen. I have posted a video of him either winning or taking reserve in the Limited Bridle at the NRCHA World Show in 2008 on this blog before. He came up from behind me in the training game, paused just long enough to say "Hey" and shot past me into some serious wins and a steady business.

He is personable and talented. I am now trying to get a few articles written and sold to the horse publications. Blue seemed a natural choice. I have been on friendly, hand waving terms with him and his wife Jeannie for some time, but haven't gotten a chance to really talk with him before.

When I called him and asked him to be my guinea pig for my first attempt at writing for magazines he was friendly and congenial.

"You bet, I'd be happy to help, this should be fun."

That's all I needed to hear, I made an appointment to meet with him this past Sunday and off I headed with my friend Kathy and the Kidlet in tow.

Blue is from Alamosa, to my mind, this part of our state is the epitome of Colorado country. Beautiful mountains crouch around the flat, arid prairie. It was a beautiful drive.

We had a great conversation and got to know each other a bit. Blue and Jeannie are Alamosa born and bred and have a nice place.

We finished up our interview and went to the indoor to take some photos of Blue working (none of which turned out, dang it).

While we were visiting he told me about his training philosophy. He wants each horse he rides to "be a horse". Which means they all work for him.
"I don't care if they are a $25,000 stud in sliders or a little three-year-old, they all go out and work for a living at least once a week," he told me.

Every horse will let him throw a rope, catch and drag a steer. Every horse can go out and gather and sort as needed.

"They need it mentally, it keeps them fresh and listening to me."

We talked for quite a while on how to train out of the arena. How much can be accomplished on a road, the trail or in a field.

Then he asked me if I had brought my boots. Why yes, yes I had. Spurs too. So he told me to pop up on his futurity prospect and try him out.

Yikes. I have not worked a cow since I quit training in September. I'm not counting the little bit of quiet herd work I've been doing. He meant try him out. You know, reined cowhorse style. Yip!

I warned Blue I was not only fat and out of shape, I was out of practice.

"You'll be fine, crawl up there."

Damn trainers.

So I did. The colt was very giving and responsive. He was calm, cheerful and focused. I liked what I was feeling. He was easy to ride, even though I don't use my legs in the bump, bump, bump, style Blue does. We had a good discussion on his thoughts on forward, my eternal hesitation I build into my horses and why he thought if I'd activate my leg some more I would get more forward and less rock back on my horses.

And then we worked cows. I am so out of shape. I just about freaked. I was OK for about two turns and then I would have to quit. I knew I wouldn't keep my seat. I was embarrassed and horrified. Neither the colt or Blue seemed to care.

I kept at it until my back couldn't take anymore. Something interesting happened. I started to feel sharp. Wolfy even. I was jazzed, a little angry and really ready to ride some more. My "soft eyes" turned hard, narrow and zeroed in on my cow. I quit worrying about being embarrassed and just started riding. It was great.

On the way home my mind was going a hundred miles a minute. A few thoughts rattled through the whirlwind loud and clear. I am messing around a little too much. I'm allowing myself to get soft and justifying making my horses that way as I slide. I want my horse to move down the road exactly like the colt I rode in the arena. I want his responses to be as sharp and clean as a good futurity prospect. I want my seat firmly back in place.

I also am fully aware that I'm not done with cowhorse. There was a fire in my belly I haven't felt in a long time. I liked it. Blue invited me back to ride anytime. So I couldn't have looked too bad. I fully intend on taking him up on his offer.

Poor Pete.


Unknown said...

I'm jealous, sounds like it was quite a rush to be back out there.

t_orchosky said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!!! I'm not a trainer, but I do compete. Sometimes we overthink everything and lose sight of the fact that we should be having fun with our horses!!!! Sounds like you just found that focus again!!!

mugwump said...

t_orch - To be truthful, I've been having fun. This made me realize how much I want to get back to work. A switch went on.

t_orchosky said...

Well that's even better - you want back in the game.

mocharocks said...

Sometimes it's only when you take a break from something for a little while that you appreciate how much you enjoy it/want to do it. Sounds like that's what happened with you. Very cool.

Good luck with the magazine article writing! I think you will be awesome at it. Won't it be funny when the magazines that buy your articles experience a huge jump in sales that month from all the mugwump followers!

Tammy Vasa said...

Sounds like its in your blood! Great story.

One of the tricks I learned for indoor arena photography is to turn off the flash. Especially if lighting is poor in the arena. The flash picks up the dirt particles. You can lighten a flashless darker picture up in Photoshop. I'm no photographer, so someone else may have better tips - but this tip helped the amateur that I am....

mugwump said...

Tammy- You wouldn't believe the photo fiasco we had. My daughter is a very good photographer. We borrowed a camera which would take several fast action shots so I could get a leg movement sequence.
I was assured by all involved this was a great plan.
Turns out we were "over camera'd" if you get my drift and nobody knew how to work the stinking thing.....I'm talking one of the news photographers into coming to the next area show and we'll ret again...ARGH.

Redsmom said...

Glad to hear you got a fire lit under you. When the student is ready, the teacher appears...

Tammy Vasa said...

Oh, that's even worse to be "over-camera'd". LOL - love that term! I have a love/hate with photography. I think I have the best dang pictures in the world, download and they either suck or are mediocre at best. The one out of 5,000 that I get that is good is like gold to me! Equine photography is tough - especially when they are moving!

Anonymous said...

Hearing that a trainer can make excuses about not being where she used to be and not as in shape as before does my heart good. Maybe it was just the motivation I need to not worry about my riding fitness and make excuses any more for myself and just go ride. Thanks Mugs! That was a bit of a confidence builder for me!

horsegenes said...

Congrats mugs...sounds like you had a great weekend. You and your daughter are going to be quite the team.

mugwump said...

oregonsunshine- I had a hard dose of reality. It has only been 8 months and I'm a mess.
I'm going to have to step up my game. I also am going to have to realize that when you ride 6 - 10 head a day you really start riding pretty damn good.
When you ride an exercise ball at a desk 40 hours a week it's just not the same!!

Anonymous said...


I think I expect too much from myself. I haven't ridden regularly for 15 years and it'll be a little longer until Casey's worked through some of his issues with the trainer until I do. He's blown unexpectedly a couple times and I know I couldn't ride through that so until his issue is worked out, I'm not riding.

I know what I was capable of and I think I keep expecting that of myself right NOW. Your reminder today just helps me over all.

Now to figure out why Casey has the occasional, unexplainable freak out...

LuckySC said...

You know what? You can really never get cow horse out of your blood. If you've done it, and done it well, no other riding really holds a candle to it.

I'm glad you're coming back. Colleen


LuckySC said...

Next time, have me come out. I can take your arena shots. Course, I'm in Florida, so the transport might be a problem. But if you'd like some tips, email me.

Joy said...

I was really surprised to read that you felt embarassed. I should die of shame then. I look forward to more blogs about cowhorse. You can do things some of us can only dream of.

I still struggle to keep my feet straight and keep my toes from pointing out. I'll get it though, I'm determined.

I guess it's nice to know that somebody as experienced as you still has doubts. Not that I'm happy you have them, I guess I just mean you seem human to me. Am I making any sense? I'll stop typing now.

Vaquerogirl said...

T-Riffic!! What a great guy! And Hurrah for you too! I love that you got the fire in your belly back! Go get 'em!

gtyyup said...

That was quiet a day for you! I just can't imagine you loosing your seat...but, it will be interesting to hear your thoughts in the next few weeks...yes, Pete could be in for an eye opener! Probably just what the two of you need...

HorseOfCourse said...

Oh I’m happy for you, Mugs!
I believe that the wolf in your stomach was a bit sad and worn out when you begun blogging, but he has been stirring lately, hasn’t he?
As mochrocks said, sometimes we need a break and sort things out.
But it seems to me that you have reached a conclusion about what you want to do? That wolf has hibernated well but is getting a bit hungry, I believe, hehe.
Now you go out and get them, girl!
We will be here cheering you on the way, come rain or shine.
As you say, when you ride 8-10 horses every day you get good. But your back doesn’t hold for it any longer, does it?
I know that the riders on the national team here are put on an exercise program (together with riding their 6-8 horses every day, I seriously don’t know how they manage) to improve stamina and flexibility. Is that a thought? Might it help your back to function better?

I love your strategy of getting new angles and input. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got”. To get better result than others, I believe it helps to challenge traditions and set ways. Think about the overall target, and what will help you to get there.
And have fun as you go.

I have cunning plans with my young one too.
My wolf is not as hungry as yours I believe, and the rider not as skilled, but I’m in for a long and fun journey! And those thrills you get on horse back, they really call for more.
You know if the cows don’t work out, you can always join me in the Mature Ladies’ Dressage Club. We’ll piaffe out together, watch the view and work the moose, lol.

Anonymous said...

Do it Mugs. For your health, for your mind. Loose the weight, ride every day, and ride hard. Don't train others horses, just your own while you write. Compete.

runninghorse said...

I think I posted this somewhere else by accident -

"And then we worked cows. I am so out of shape. I just about freaked. I was OK for about two turns and then I would have to quit. I knew I wouldn't keep my seat. I was embarrassed and horrified. "

This made me feel better - even the pros feel this way sometimes so its not just me. And I have never been fit, yet, to work cows daily.

I love this blog Mugwump. I really want to do cowhorse - Ive always wanted to do cowhorse - only we dont have it much in Australia. First time ever in an arena down the fence I got the AQHA Nationals Champion cowhorse - there was only four of us ( I was very pleased with myself because I managed the complete pattern with the cow, not that I won). My horse is a good reiner who really wanted to be a cowhorse. But that is the end of my career because there is almost no competitions.

So I am going cutting instead. I dont like it so much but am finding it a real challenge. I have to ride different - better. My confidence is shot and I feel that what I know about how to sit a horse is all wrong, that whatever I do is wrong and Im wrecking the horse. So I havent actually worked my cattle in an arena much.

I have concentrated on getting a farm. So I have the farm, 140 cows and their calves, 1800 sheep, an arena, and a mostly trained cutting horse. Nearest trainer is 400 km away. Now I am not sure where to go and how not to do it wrong and how to train myself, by myself, without messing to horse up so much I cant use him.

But I know what you mean about "Fire in the belly". I still really want to do cowhorse, even if it means doing it for real at home by myself. And competing at cutting instead.

I learn a lot from your blog, things like its not just my cowhorse bred horse that is spooky, its his breeding.

Anyone got any beginner cutter/cowhorse confidence tips?
How much and often do I need a trainer?
What size/shape is best for working alone?
Can I learn on cows or is it better if I buy a mechanical one?

crochetyolelady said...

Theres nothing like moving a cow horseback is there? its such a rush. What I like about team sorting and penning (not really THAT far off of the cowhorse), is that your so focused on the cow, that you FORGET to worry about HOW you look when your riding.
You get so focused on the job that your not micromanaging your riding, and it all just falls into place. Was the best thing that ever happened to my daughter when she was about 10 years old. Got her penning and she "forgot" about worrying HOW to ride and JUST RODE.

autumnblaze said...

OT - mugs, wanted to let you know that after all my whining about advice for spooking/getting over worry/fear in rough situations... Not 100% sure how I did it, I'd guess part 'riding like Ben Cartwright' as you say, little Sally Swift reading (RIP) and just sucking it up. I (finally) truly convinced myself my worry was freaking him out and now I just don't really. :) Funny how the most basic things can backslide in your head. He's a solid citizen - very honest horse. I do like that he picks up on me and he's got the get up and go... I'm glad to be giving him better less stressful input. My instructor was pleased last lesson on several levels (she hadn't been out in awhile). It's also amazing when I'm not stressing about what he might do or if the wind is blowing up his butt too much, etc. how much more I can get out of lessons or just enjoying the trail. My boy and I thank you for your advice.

Horses Are Our Lives said...

"I was jazzed, a little angry and really ready to ride some more." LOL, I instantly thought of Sonita. I think you are a lot alike, and that is why you figured her out! Good for you to find out where the fire is! Go for it! I'm excited for you!

mugwump said...

mocharocks - IF I sell this article and IF it makes it in print then I would love it if they saw a jump in sales that month....that would get me some business don't ya think?
Kel- my daughter and I often are more Keystone Kops than Tonto and Kemosabe. She's the one who assured me she could work the stinking camera....
mocharocks - IF I sell this article and IF it makes it in print then I would love it if they saw a jump in sales that month....that would get me some business don't ya think?
Kel- my daughter and I often are more Keystone Kops than Tonto and Kemosabe. She's the one who assured me she could work the stinking camera....

Joy - one of my great weaknesses as a trainer was not having the confidence and 'tude' needed to convince my clients I knew what I was talking about.
Plus, this was a fellow trainer, wanting me to like his horse (I did) and I felt like I couldn't ride the dang thing.
gtyyup - trust me, I had no clue things could be that off that soon. I didn't actually slide around, but I was aware of my seat, something I usually don't have to think about. I would have been tightening or clutching or something if I had really worked the cow, so I just stuck with a couple of turns, let my cow go and went again. It kept me from getting grabby and the colt stayed happy.
HOH and anon - I have been sitting on a balance ball instead of a chair at work (core strength) running up 7 flights of stairs daily (leg strength), I walk my dogs at a 20 minute per mile pace at least 3 times a week. Each walk varies between 2 - 6 miles. Oh and I've been stepping up and down my 2 foot step for 2 sets of 10 on each leg (stretching).On top of still riding as often as I can.
I'm working towards 12 flights of stairs and will be running instead of walking as soon as my weight goes down enough to bear the strain. I eat 1500 to 2000 calories a day.Mostly vegetarian. I only drink water, coffee and green tea. I don't make gravy or sauces. I only eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables. One serving each week of grass fed beef, chicken and pork.
I have lost 2 lbs. in the 8 weeks I have been eating this way.
My metabolism is making me pay a heavy price for sitting at a desk for the first time in my life. I'm only whining a little, mainly I'm saying it ain't for lack of trying.
runninghorse- I would work with a trainer whenever I could. If you can get a mechanical cow I'd grab it. They are great for beginners and tuning.
I love cutting. It's hard, beautiful and very strategic. You can usually turn a cutting horse into a reined cowhorse, but it can be harder to go the other way.
Australia has some phenominal cutters. If you really want cowhorse find some reining help and be a pioneer out there. I think it could be really exciting.
Videos!! Larry Trocha has some good ones, Sandy Collier does too.
autumnblaze - YAY!!! It's wierd isn't it? How do you teach somebody to just quit worrying?
Brenda - Yeah, maybe a little.

mocharocks said...

You bet! The magazines will be fighting over your articles! I guess you'll just have to sell to the highest bidder, wouldn't that suck?! LOL

QLH said...

I dont know if this makes sense to anyone else but I often find my time off (either myself or my horses) sets me up to be more productive than if I had just kept plugging at it. I know when I get worn down and burnt out. Walking away for a week or a couple of months (winter -40c plus wind chill, etc) brings me around and adds that 'Fire in my belly' faster than anything else. My horses really benefit from this. I never hesitate to give them time off. A week off in the middle of the season gives them a chance to decompress. Dont beat yourself up rejoice in your renewed dedication and move on to your next challenges. Time off is one of the most positive things we can do for ourselves and our horses, feeling 'hungry' makes your riding time more productive.

mugwump said...

QLH - well said. This time off thing is really new to me.

HorseOfCourse said...

Oi. You really are serious!

HorseOfCourse said...

Oi #2. I see labels!

mugwump said...

HOH - I'm working on it. I only got through most of July. Man, I sure do like to talk!!!!

Joy said...

Yeah, well we obviously like to read what you wanna talk about so maybe you liking to talk is a good thing in your readers eyes!

Anonymous said...

That darn Blue you have to watch him he will put you on anything some fun!!
I just found your blog last night I have never commented on something like this before but I read the comments on your stay with Blue and Jennie Allen and the ones about the difference between the reiners and the cowhorses
I would like to let your know just how special Blue is with the horse in the video.
I know the horse in video and he is is not your typical show horse he does not live with Blue he stays at his owners and is used for trail riding, ranch horse versatility,reining,cutting and sometimes the kids ride him.
most trainers would not even think about showing him in the type of classes he goes to with no more time than he gets with him.
Blue had him a little over a month before the world show, he had a much better run in the prelims but then he got sick and he was not going to show him.
the morning of the finals he was better so they decided to coast him thru the dry work so he might have something left for the cow he drew in last so Blue put his saddle on him and got on when the fifth horse went in the arena.
He actually tied for first place but the other horse beat him in the cow work so that was the tie breaker.
I think the horse would have given him allot more than Blue asked for, it was more important for Blue to take care of him than winning and he still got his picture taken with his little boy.
Blue has got to show the horse about 10 times and earned over $10000 including second in Reno in the bridle class where Blue was 1st and 2cd
I know the horse because I clean his stall every day that he is not at Blues he is my wife's, and he is her pride and joy she would not let just anybody ride him.
It is really flattering that you picked my video to compare to possibly the greatest reining horse ever.
Blue and Jennie are special people they open there home to all friends and since most clients live far away they pretty much have company every day they are home and they are always happy to see you!!
if you are ever in the franktown co area look me up I could let you throw a leg over whiskey (if you don't tell Blue he doesn't like to share)

mugwump said...

Anon - How nice to hear from you! I'm glad you found the blog. I'm in Franktown quite often, I keep some of my horses outside of Kiowa....I hope you got as big a kick out of the positive comments your horse and Blue got, some from all over the world. Your wife has a great horse!

Whywudyabreedit said...

Just noticed the labels. Thanks SO much for taking the time to do that!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing such a great job it is so interesting and fun to see the comments on my wifes horse whiskeys starlight good or bad and from people all around the world. she has told everyone she knows to check it out. we are 14 miles south of franktown if you would like to stop by and ride with me it would be great you dont even need a horse.
I have a low headed reiner and a pretty good cowhorse.

Becky said...

You should go back and ride again :)

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