Donald Messling cow work clinic gives riders a winning edge | TSLN.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Donald Messling cow work clinic gives riders a winning edge

Bill Brewster
Photo by Bill BrewsterDonald Messling explains cow working techniques in the round pen.

Buy Photo

A veteran cutting and working cow horse trainer provided essential tips for riders interested in advancing their skills in these popular activities during a day-long clinic held May 14.

Clinician Donald Messling of Toston, MT, gave 20 participants in the cow work clinic key points to improve their cattle working skills. More than twenty years of hands-on experience in the saddle has shaped Messling’s insight into the techniques needed to work cattle properly.

Before riders saddled up, Messling outlined the basic position riders need to use to control cattle. Using quart oil bottles, he demonstrated where a horse and rider should be positioned to move cattle with the desired results.

One of Messling’s key points was to emphasize a proper stop.

“Everybody overdoes the way they stop and turn,” Messling pointed out. “They try to do too much and don’t let the horse do enough. In the process, they force the horses to stop instead letting them do it correctly and naturally.”

In addition, Messling said, experienced riders never let the horse finish the stop. Along those same lines, Messling also believes riders ask their horses to do things that they are not capable of handling. The process, he added, is so important.

“Stop, sit back and then turn so your horses are over their hocks before they turn,” he said. “People forget to start the right synchronization to get the timing down before they proceed.”

The trainer reminded participants that there is an important difference between turning a reining horse and a cutting or cow working horse. The differences, he said, are classic points which need to be realized.

“In reining, the shoulder of the horse has the lead,” he pointed out. “When working cattle, the horse needs to use his head and look at the cow with his eye and also to use its head as more of a balancing point.”

Messling pointed out another ongoing problem riders get into – asking the horse to look into the turn, but not letting go of the indirect rein so the horse can make the turn.

In most cases, Messling believes it takes about a year to get many horses ready to go in cutting.

“Of course it depends on the horse’s ability and aptitude,” he said. “Some horse are great at home but just aren’t show horses.”

The challenge, he said, is to bring the best out of the horse without ruining him. “You don’t want to get him sour and you want to keep him excited about doing it. I’d rather be training a horse on a cow rather than just on dry work.”

Messling said the trick is to try and keep the horse correct, while still bringing out the cow in him.

“You want to have the fundamentals down correctly and once that is done, it’s up to the horse,” he added.

Messling has trained multiple rope, cow and cutting horses at his ranch site, located between Toston and Radersburg, along with conducting clinics. He usually keeps 30 or more head of cattle on site to use for training and clinics.

The facilities designed to use cattle include two round pens and a square corral. Using the larger round pen takes the pressure off of the horse, he said.

“For the best results, I like to settle my herd in the center of the round and then work around them for the best results.”

Messling’s riding career began in Wisconsin; while there worked for Mel Potter Rodeos. Before moving to Montana, he operated a ranch in Wyoming and worked in Colorado for Bob Norris where he got involved with cutting horses. In the past, Messling competed Montana cutting events. More recently he has concentrated on teaching and training.

A veteran cutting and working cow horse trainer provided essential tips for riders interested in advancing their skills in these popular activities during a day-long clinic held May 14.

Clinician Donald Messling of Toston, MT, gave 20 participants in the cow work clinic key points to improve their cattle working skills. More than twenty years of hands-on experience in the saddle has shaped Messling’s insight into the techniques needed to work cattle properly.

Before riders saddled up, Messling outlined the basic position riders need to use to control cattle. Using quart oil bottles, he demonstrated where a horse and rider should be positioned to move cattle with the desired results.

One of Messling’s key points was to emphasize a proper stop.

“Everybody overdoes the way they stop and turn,” Messling pointed out. “They try to do too much and don’t let the horse do enough. In the process, they force the horses to stop instead letting them do it correctly and naturally.”

In addition, Messling said, experienced riders never let the horse finish the stop. Along those same lines, Messling also believes riders ask their horses to do things that they are not capable of handling. The process, he added, is so important.

“Stop, sit back and then turn so your horses are over their hocks before they turn,” he said. “People forget to start the right synchronization to get the timing down before they proceed.”

The trainer reminded participants that there is an important difference between turning a reining horse and a cutting or cow working horse. The differences, he said, are classic points which need to be realized.

“In reining, the shoulder of the horse has the lead,” he pointed out. “When working cattle, the horse needs to use his head and look at the cow with his eye and also to use its head as more of a balancing point.”

Messling pointed out another ongoing problem riders get into – asking the horse to look into the turn, but not letting go of the indirect rein so the horse can make the turn.

In most cases, Messling believes it takes about a year to get many horses ready to go in cutting.

“Of course it depends on the horse’s ability and aptitude,” he said. “Some horse are great at home but just aren’t show horses.”

The challenge, he said, is to bring the best out of the horse without ruining him. “You don’t want to get him sour and you want to keep him excited about doing it. I’d rather be training a horse on a cow rather than just on dry work.”

Messling said the trick is to try and keep the horse correct, while still bringing out the cow in him.

“You want to have the fundamentals down correctly and once that is done, it’s up to the horse,” he added.

Messling has trained multiple rope, cow and cutting horses at his ranch site, located between Toston and Radersburg, along with conducting clinics. He usually keeps 30 or more head of cattle on site to use for training and clinics.

The facilities designed to use cattle include two round pens and a square corral. Using the larger round pen takes the pressure off of the horse, he said.

“For the best results, I like to settle my herd in the center of the round and then work around them for the best results.”

Messling’s riding career began in Wisconsin; while there worked for Mel Potter Rodeos. Before moving to Montana, he operated a ranch in Wyoming and worked in Colorado for Bob Norris where he got involved with cutting horses. In the past, Messling competed Montana cutting events. More recently he has concentrated on teaching and training.

A veteran cutting and working cow horse trainer provided essential tips for riders interested in advancing their skills in these popular activities during a day-long clinic held May 14.

Clinician Donald Messling of Toston, MT, gave 20 participants in the cow work clinic key points to improve their cattle working skills. More than twenty years of hands-on experience in the saddle has shaped Messling’s insight into the techniques needed to work cattle properly.

Before riders saddled up, Messling outlined the basic position riders need to use to control cattle. Using quart oil bottles, he demonstrated where a horse and rider should be positioned to move cattle with the desired results.

One of Messling’s key points was to emphasize a proper stop.

“Everybody overdoes the way they stop and turn,” Messling pointed out. “They try to do too much and don’t let the horse do enough. In the process, they force the horses to stop instead letting them do it correctly and naturally.”

In addition, Messling said, experienced riders never let the horse finish the stop. Along those same lines, Messling also believes riders ask their horses to do things that they are not capable of handling. The process, he added, is so important.

“Stop, sit back and then turn so your horses are over their hocks before they turn,” he said. “People forget to start the right synchronization to get the timing down before they proceed.”

The trainer reminded participants that there is an important difference between turning a reining horse and a cutting or cow working horse. The differences, he said, are classic points which need to be realized.

“In reining, the shoulder of the horse has the lead,” he pointed out. “When working cattle, the horse needs to use his head and look at the cow with his eye and also to use its head as more of a balancing point.”

Messling pointed out another ongoing problem riders get into – asking the horse to look into the turn, but not letting go of the indirect rein so the horse can make the turn.

In most cases, Messling believes it takes about a year to get many horses ready to go in cutting.

“Of course it depends on the horse’s ability and aptitude,” he said. “Some horse are great at home but just aren’t show horses.”

The challenge, he said, is to bring the best out of the horse without ruining him. “You don’t want to get him sour and you want to keep him excited about doing it. I’d rather be training a horse on a cow rather than just on dry work.”

Messling said the trick is to try and keep the horse correct, while still bringing out the cow in him.

“You want to have the fundamentals down correctly and once that is done, it’s up to the horse,” he added.

Messling has trained multiple rope, cow and cutting horses at his ranch site, located between Toston and Radersburg, along with conducting clinics. He usually keeps 30 or more head of cattle on site to use for training and clinics.

The facilities designed to use cattle include two round pens and a square corral. Using the larger round pen takes the pressure off of the horse, he said.

“For the best results, I like to settle my herd in the center of the round and then work around them for the best results.”

Messling’s riding career began in Wisconsin; while there worked for Mel Potter Rodeos. Before moving to Montana, he operated a ranch in Wyoming and worked in Colorado for Bob Norris where he got involved with cutting horses. In the past, Messling competed Montana cutting events. More recently he has concentrated on teaching and training.

A veteran cutting and working cow horse trainer provided essential tips for riders interested in advancing their skills in these popular activities during a day-long clinic held May 14.

Clinician Donald Messling of Toston, MT, gave 20 participants in the cow work clinic key points to improve their cattle working skills. More than twenty years of hands-on experience in the saddle has shaped Messling’s insight into the techniques needed to work cattle properly.

Before riders saddled up, Messling outlined the basic position riders need to use to control cattle. Using quart oil bottles, he demonstrated where a horse and rider should be positioned to move cattle with the desired results.

One of Messling’s key points was to emphasize a proper stop.

“Everybody overdoes the way they stop and turn,” Messling pointed out. “They try to do too much and don’t let the horse do enough. In the process, they force the horses to stop instead letting them do it correctly and naturally.”

In addition, Messling said, experienced riders never let the horse finish the stop. Along those same lines, Messling also believes riders ask their horses to do things that they are not capable of handling. The process, he added, is so important.

“Stop, sit back and then turn so your horses are over their hocks before they turn,” he said. “People forget to start the right synchronization to get the timing down before they proceed.”

The trainer reminded participants that there is an important difference between turning a reining horse and a cutting or cow working horse. The differences, he said, are classic points which need to be realized.

“In reining, the shoulder of the horse has the lead,” he pointed out. “When working cattle, the horse needs to use his head and look at the cow with his eye and also to use its head as more of a balancing point.”

Messling pointed out another ongoing problem riders get into – asking the horse to look into the turn, but not letting go of the indirect rein so the horse can make the turn.

In most cases, Messling believes it takes about a year to get many horses ready to go in cutting.

“Of course it depends on the horse’s ability and aptitude,” he said. “Some horse are great at home but just aren’t show horses.”

The challenge, he said, is to bring the best out of the horse without ruining him. “You don’t want to get him sour and you want to keep him excited about doing it. I’d rather be training a horse on a cow rather than just on dry work.”

Messling said the trick is to try and keep the horse correct, while still bringing out the cow in him.

“You want to have the fundamentals down correctly and once that is done, it’s up to the horse,” he added.

Messling has trained multiple rope, cow and cutting horses at his ranch site, located between Toston and Radersburg, along with conducting clinics. He usually keeps 30 or more head of cattle on site to use for training and clinics.

The facilities designed to use cattle include two round pens and a square corral. Using the larger round pen takes the pressure off of the horse, he said.

“For the best results, I like to settle my herd in the center of the round and then work around them for the best results.”

Messling’s riding career began in Wisconsin; while there worked for Mel Potter Rodeos. Before moving to Montana, he operated a ranch in Wyoming and worked in Colorado for Bob Norris where he got involved with cutting horses. In the past, Messling competed Montana cutting events. More recently he has concentrated on teaching and training.

A veteran cutting and working cow horse trainer provided essential tips for riders interested in advancing their skills in these popular activities during a day-long clinic held May 14.

Clinician Donald Messling of Toston, MT, gave 20 participants in the cow work clinic key points to improve their cattle working skills. More than twenty years of hands-on experience in the saddle has shaped Messling’s insight into the techniques needed to work cattle properly.

Before riders saddled up, Messling outlined the basic position riders need to use to control cattle. Using quart oil bottles, he demonstrated where a horse and rider should be positioned to move cattle with the desired results.

One of Messling’s key points was to emphasize a proper stop.

“Everybody overdoes the way they stop and turn,” Messling pointed out. “They try to do too much and don’t let the horse do enough. In the process, they force the horses to stop instead letting them do it correctly and naturally.”

In addition, Messling said, experienced riders never let the horse finish the stop. Along those same lines, Messling also believes riders ask their horses to do things that they are not capable of handling. The process, he added, is so important.

“Stop, sit back and then turn so your horses are over their hocks before they turn,” he said. “People forget to start the right synchronization to get the timing down before they proceed.”

The trainer reminded participants that there is an important difference between turning a reining horse and a cutting or cow working horse. The differences, he said, are classic points which need to be realized.

“In reining, the shoulder of the horse has the lead,” he pointed out. “When working cattle, the horse needs to use his head and look at the cow with his eye and also to use its head as more of a balancing point.”

Messling pointed out another ongoing problem riders get into – asking the horse to look into the turn, but not letting go of the indirect rein so the horse can make the turn.

In most cases, Messling believes it takes about a year to get many horses ready to go in cutting.

“Of course it depends on the horse’s ability and aptitude,” he said. “Some horse are great at home but just aren’t show horses.”

The challenge, he said, is to bring the best out of the horse without ruining him. “You don’t want to get him sour and you want to keep him excited about doing it. I’d rather be training a horse on a cow rather than just on dry work.”

Messling said the trick is to try and keep the horse correct, while still bringing out the cow in him.

“You want to have the fundamentals down correctly and once that is done, it’s up to the horse,” he added.

Messling has trained multiple rope, cow and cutting horses at his ranch site, located between Toston and Radersburg, along with conducting clinics. He usually keeps 30 or more head of cattle on site to use for training and clinics.

The facilities designed to use cattle include two round pens and a square corral. Using the larger round pen takes the pressure off of the horse, he said.

“For the best results, I like to settle my herd in the center of the round and then work around them for the best results.”

Messling’s riding career began in Wisconsin; while there worked for Mel Potter Rodeos. Before moving to Montana, he operated a ranch in Wyoming and worked in Colorado for Bob Norris where he got involved with cutting horses. In the past, Messling competed Montana cutting events. More recently he has concentrated on teaching and training.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User