The reined cow horse discipline’s trademark fence work event is known for its thrilling qualities. But because of the speed and nature of the task, an extra element of risk is involved.
National Reined Cow Horse Association Hall of Famer Ken Wold picked up the highest fence score of 149 at the 2017 Peptoboonsmal Derby on This Cats Forever (WR This Cats Smart x Soula Jule Forever x Soula Jule Star). He shared a few tips for riders to take into consideration before rounding the arena corner after a cow.
Wold said the best way to prepare for going down the fence in a competition is to take things slow and make sure the horse and rider are ready to perform at any speed. He emphasized the importance of making safety the first priority and not pushing past what is comfortable.
“I think the biggest thing when going down the fence is rating cattle,” Wold said. “People want to go too fast too quick. If he can’t handle it at a slow lope and he isn’t relaxed and quiet, he sure isn’t going to handle it at a fast lope.
“You have to keep bringing it up to the point that you can run pretty fast but still have that control. As soon as you feel like you are losing control, you need to shut things down. The horse has to be listening to you at any speed. Some people ask me as I get older if I get nervous to go down the fence, and I tell them that you just never go down the fence on a horse that you don’t have total control of. That means if you are running wide open, I mean 100 miles per hour, you should be able to pick up and take that horse off and stop.”
Wold recognized that there are risks involved with going down the fence. He believes that sometimes retiring from a run is the best option, even if that means passing on an opportunity to win at a big event.
“There is always going to be another horse show,” Wold said. “If you are in a situation to where you are out of control, don’t try to be a hero. Just go to the next show. Don’t get yourself hurt. The same goes for the ground. If the ground is really bad, that is not the time to be a hero. Be careful and pull up.
“I am not saying to quit every time things get tough, but if you are in a tough situation, don’t be afraid to pull up to just slow down and not come up hurt. You can get hurt seriously doing this. If you have control and are safe, then you will be able to do this for a long time.”
Read more about Ken Wold’s success at the Peptoboonsmal Derby in the March 15 issue of Quarter Horse News.