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Welcome to the of the Wyoming Cutting Horse Association

Aaron Ralston
Cow Horse Productions, Aspen, CO

Why compete?

"Some losin's is right, some winnings wrong", Paul Zarzyski Bob Dylan ‘Bronc song’

By Testing ourselves against ourselves in unfamiliar circumstances we add a self monitor that allows us to check our progress. I work all my horses on a mechanical cow. This is a wonderful training device that allows me to predict situations while I teach my horse to stop, back up, roll back, move out, focus, etc... The mechanical cow consists of a flag attached to a cord hung on pulleys driven by a motor that is controlled by a remote held by the rider. When I push the button the flag moves, then my horse should make the corresponding move to the right or left. When I release the button the flag stops, therefore my horse should stop. When horse, rider, and flag are in sync there is an invisible leash connecting the three in unison as they perform a series of stops, 180 degree turns, accelerating, and decelerating in a varied sequence. I cannot tell you how many championships I have won in my own back yard! I'm a legend in my own mind! However, by simply handing my remote to someone else to operate for me, I lose most of my snap. Without knowing, by running the remote, I am setting myself up to win every time. No matter how hard I try not to, I am sending signals to my horse that say "we're getting ready to stop", or "I'm going to push the button now". Subconsciously it is very difficult to judge the level of difficulty or responsibility we put on ourselves and our horses. Therefore, what we think is enough may just be the beginning.

What is competition?

Competition does not have to be a horse show or a race against another horse. Simply, competition should be a set of standards against which one guides themselves by. The standards therefore have great influence on your perceived results. Choose them carefully. It is not about the blue ribbon; instead it is about evaluating the direction of our work and establishing deadlines for its attainment. Our standards may be too easy, such as always holding the remote myself and never allowing my horse to assume full responsibility. I will always compete, as I need to be challenged and held to an honest evaluation of my progress. I don't have to win the blue ribbon, but I need to know if I'm as good as I think I am!

For more information on Aaron’s Training methods, his horses etc. or any questions you may have for Aaron you can go to his web site at or he can be contacted by email at  He can also be contacted by telephone on 970-274-4346 or by mail at Aaron Ralston, Cow Horse Productions, 309 AABC, Suite D, Aspen, CO 81611. You can also catch Aaron’s TV program on RFD TV.

Getting Legged up for the Show Season
Troy Vernon, Trainer
Vernon Cutting Horses, LLC

Spring is almost here and the start of new cutting season has begun.  Unless you have been riding your
horse regularly throughout the winter, pre-show conditioning is crucial.  It’s easy to get excited about entering and overlook your horses’ physical needs.  Conditioning not only prevents injury, but allows your horse to perform optimally.  None of us would enter a marathon without training and we shouldn’t ask our equine athletes, as physical and hard-working as they are, to perform at high levels unprepared. 

In an arena, trotting is the best way to work all of the muscles in the body.  I try to trot my horses for increasing intervals for at least 30 days prior to starting on cattle, or until they can trot for 20-30 min without becoming winded.  If you are able to trail ride, hills are beneficial as well and the trail is good to clear the horses’ mind.    As a cool-down, I use flexion exercises and focus on their suppleness through their entire body, getting them soft in the face and flexible from poll to tail.  This is key to starting back on cattle, as a horse that will accept your hands and legs will allow you to train on it and help it work properly without getting in a fight or letting them develop a bad habit you have to fix later. 

Often times non-professionals, in any discipline, don’t keep their horses rode enough and physically fit enough \to perform at the top of their game.  When practicing on cattle, many will throw down their hand like their headed to the herd at the futurity finals!  Remember that practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  Keep your horse in the shape an athlete should be in, keep them sharp on the cow while providing guidance in practice, and both of you will enjoy the show season much more.

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