Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Battle of Conflicting Instincts

While sometimes frustrating, I peruse through a lot of articles and videos on stockmanship, not for the education as much as trying to figure out how to describe things I do different. In doing so I came across a statement by one of the better known low stress stockmanship instructors which set off the old light bulb.

"Cattle don’t perceive there is or will be a release of pressure. Or pressure is coming from multiple spots around them at the same time."

 We are so busy figuring out when to apply or release pressure that we don't recognize that cattle are continually looking for the release of pressure, and when they don't recognize it, react to us in ways we consider "wrong."  To this (and in response to "pressure is coming from multiple spots around them" ) we need to add There are times we are placing pressures on cattle without realizing it.

We seldom acknowledge the fact we are neither solely a predator or solely a prey animal. This becomes a problem when we are working cattle because (no matter how much we try not to) we focus on what reactions cattle should have from the point of a predator, and not a prey animal. As such we don't recognize behaviors such as quitting the herd or refusing to go through a gate as the animal responding to too much pressure and recognizing where the release from pressure is.

Our reaction is that we need to get ahead of them to "get their eye" and put enough pressure on them to turn or stop them. We forget that the general rule of cattle slowing down when we are going in the same direction only works if and when our position isn't in the predatory mode of pursuing prey.

When it comes down to it, humans react much the same way. We react to having too much pressure in a variety of ways. This can vary from being indecisive, to becoming agitated and angry, to freezing up like a deer in the headlights. Just like a cow, our prey instincts kick in and we try to get away from it in various ways. We may freeze like a deer in the headlights, or we may be like a bull on the fight and go on the attack...or we may be like the cow in the gate and just leave. 

This tendency to looking for a release from pressure is why stockmanship methods using indirect pressure works so well. For instance, when trying to force a cow out of the feed pen and into the alley, the cow is concentrated on the source of pressure while thinking the release is where you picked it up from. As such it doesn't recognize the gate as the point of release, and keeps fighting to get back to it's safe place. By relieving pressure towards the gate and riding away from it, you have shifted your pressure towards her perceived point of release which shifts her into looking for a new point of release, which just happens to be the gate.

Once you begin to recognize how cattle perceive the your (or your horse's) body angle in relationship to your approach, you will be able to have cattle seeking the place you want them to go as their "point of release." We are able to take this to the degree of rebooting herd instinct, not because we are forcing the issue, but because the relief of stress creates the herd as their point of release.

For more videos, information on stockmanship, regenerative grazing,  as well as schools and clinics, visit   

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Reserving 2019 Dates For 5 Day IMG Schools and 2 Day Stockmanship Schools

Time to start making a schedule for schools and clinics in 2019.

The IMG schools are 5 days long, during which the class will learn the stockmanship required to reboot herd instinct while rebooting it in the cattle used. This will include the horsemanship needed to handle cattle with these methods, as well as seeing the changes in behavior made by the cattle during the process. Cattle will be worked with twice a day with discussions on infrastructure and grazing, including conducting forensic grazing observations throughout the week.

Cost $2500 plus $0.85 a mile from Van Horn Texas. Maximum class size 10.

Also offering two day stockmanship clinics which covers horsemanship and stockmanship methods used in rebooting herd instinct (which are useful no matter how, or where you run cattle.) Hosting ranch will also receive a forensic grazing study at no cost. Minimum class size depends on distance from Van Horn (shown in chart below.) Maximum class size 10.$300

For more information call

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Natural Way To Start Cattle With The Least Amount Of Stress

 It disturbs me when I see people writing articles on how to "properly" start cattle when they have attempted (and failed) to reboot herd instinct after asking for (and ignoring) my advice on the matter.
With that in mind, it is time to repost the following two videos. 

The first video is an animation which explains why there is stress in what many consider to be the "proper" way to start cattle, as well as the lower stress way of starting from the direction you want the cattle to go, and drawing them. 

The second video shows a group of cattle starting naturally on their own, along with a clip of me starting a group from the direction I'm wanting them to go. You will probably notice in the second video only one pass was made to start the cattle, making it less work on you as well as less stress on the cattle. For more videos and information on stockmanship and IMG (Instinctive Migratory Grazing) visit my website.