Jul 262019

By Patty Wilber

Working Cow Horse, American Quarter Horse Association description of the class.

“…The competition consists of two parts: prescribed reined work and actual cow work. Judging is based on good manners, smoothness, cow sense and ease of reining. During the cow working phase of the exhibitor’s run, one cow is turned into the arena. The horse is required to hold the cow on the end of the arena, make at least one turn each direction along the fence (= down the fence–my add in), and circle the cow both directions.”

It has been a couple of years since I have had a horse that could go “down the fence”, so it was a huge thrill to do that this past weekend, at the Green Chile Classic, with not one, but two horses: My Lucy (Qwhizenart) and Atti (She has Attitude), owned by Judith Huchton. The show was run by the NM Paint Horse Club.

I am not here to tell you we were astonishingly great, but I AM here to tell you that it was a LOT of fun!

Atti held her cow for the boxing portion, then stayed in decent position down the fence and circled up really well!  Plus, she had a lot of intent which is something that is newly blossoming in her with her cow work. 

Photos thanks to the 100 dollar gift certificate I won in a random draw at the Spring Salsa Show put on by the NM Paint horse Club. Ava Charrlin, Raise the Standards Photography.


I helped Lucy lose her cow in the boxing portion by misreading it, but then we brought it back and she hooked on and boxed it well.  She was behind a bit in the down the fence portion and while we did successfully circle the cow, both directions, we were quite far away from it.  Never-the-less, we completed all the maneuvers!!

Lucy finds the cow work more intuitive than Atti does, so teaching her is easier, but she is still  a year behind Atti since she is a year younger. I didn’t get any dramatic pictures of her working her cow, but here are some of her from the show. She looks pretty cute (I think!).  I just looked pained.  Game face.  Ya.  That’s it!

Both horses also competed in Ranch Riding, RanchTrail, Ranch Pleasure, and Reining.  Atti did Ranch Rail Pleasure where all horses ride on the rail. Lucy sat that one out because one can only ride one horse at a time.

We had some very good results, and I was proud of both horses (and Atti won High Point Open Horse! Lucy tied for Reserve with Christy and Lamont!),  but the most hilarious event was Ranch Trail. Unfortunately, we needed video of it, but you will just have to go with the written description!

The pattern had a bridge with sage brush laid in front of it.  I ride out on the trail with Atti at least three days a week and she is a really solid trail and mountain horse, so I did not expect any push back from some sage on the ground.  


Atti approached that and LOOOKED at the sage.

“that’s in the wrong spot,” said she. “u should probably get off and move it for me.”

“No, you have to walk over it,” I said.

“i think not,” she said. “besides it smells like sage.”

“You really do have to,” I said, “and it is sage.”


I rolled my eyes and I was laughing at her goofiness.

“Yes. It will be ok.”

“well, let me smell it,” she said.  I agreed.

“smells kind of good!” she said.

But then she BIT the sage, and lifted a whole bundle of it up, where upon she tossed her head and sage flew about!

At this point I was laughing out loud, while still conversing with Atti.

“Over!” I said.

“k!” she replied.  “i don’t know why u are in such a hurry!,” and over she went with a sprig of sage dangling out of her mouth!

I don’t really know how, after all that, but she won the class! Maybe because she got entertainment value credits. (Lucy went right over, no issues!)


Sunday rolled around and I noticed Atti had a big zit-like swelling on her lip.  “Vesicular stomatitis!” I thought.  I ran to the computer and looked it up.

Whew.  If she had VS she’d be drooling and it would look like she had giant canker sores on her tongue and on the inside of her mouth, not one big zit on her lip.

Turns out she got a little poke with all her sage drama, and on Monday, I put some duct tape on her nose to distract her and popped that little abscess.  Pus all over me.  Gross.  But she felt much better!

Next weekend is the Red Hot Ranch Horse Challenge!  We are all going down the fence again!

Happy Friday!





  3 Responses to “Down the Fence!”

  1. Lucy DOES look cute, and you just look like you’re concentrating. Maybe someday Lamont and I will do some cow work.

  2. Lucy is VERY cute. And remembering Atti’s early reports, hard to believe she’s turned into this awesome show horse.

    I never thought I’d say this to another woman, but this is after all showtime..SMILE! Don’t look worried…SMILE. If it kills you. Nothing like a big grin on a rider’s face to make it look like that bobble…never happened or was an intentional move.

    Now go ahead and glare at me because telling another woman to smile can sure feel like an insult to the recipient of the advice. I deserve it. And I hope you know how much I admire your horsemanship.

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