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Friday, February 20, 2015

Cold Reading Cattle - Rope Myers

One of the tools to help any timed event cowboy or cowgirl be successful is the ability to look at the calf or steer they have and make some accurate guesses as to how this animal will behave in the arena.  While these speculations may not be perfect they at least can give some valuable insight which may increase the competitor’s odds. 

I have developed an acronym to help in this process S.E.A.R.C.H. S=Size, E=Ears, A=Age, R=Range, C=Color, and H=Health. These factors, in addition to horn shape in the steer events will help give a picture of what predilections an animal may have.

Size this one is pretty straight forward but can be very beneficial. A big steer can mean that he may be heavy on the end of it or a big calf may let a calf roper know they need to be extra deliberate when they go to flank.  A smaller steer can indicate to a steer wrestler that he may need to leave his head higher, while a small calf may tell a breakaway roper to shorten their loop up.

Ears - a good indicator of the breed of the animal and as such can give clues to the possible inherent characteristics of that breed. (i.e. more ear= brahma influence, small ear= cold weather breed).  This information can shed some light on the possible temperament of the animal. Steers with more ear may be wilder but weaker. Calves with short ears may indicate an animal that is quick.  Additionally, ears and the way the animal carries them can be an indication of the health of the animal.

Age can give us clues to the disposition of the animal.  Typically, younger animals are wilder than the same animal at an older age.  While size is part of estimating the age of a calf or steer it isn’t always the most reliable gauge.  Rodeo calves have been weaned and the amount of time since weaning can vary greatly so two calves may weigh the same but be very different ages.  A similar thing is true of Corriente steers - some are raised in harsher regions of Mexico and grow at a slower rate, making two steers of the same weight could be as much as a year apart in age.  Some signs of age are length of tail; hair length and coarseness; size, shape, and maturity of horn; and hoof size. 

Range is a way to ask “where does this animal fit in this herd?”  Taken alone a calf may look big and strong but when he is seen in the herd he may be in the middle or even on the small end.  Likewise a steer may appear to be “good” until you see his pen mates are all “exceptional”.

Color is inherent in animals and may provide awareness of breed proclivities.  In Mexican cattle for instance, solid black or black roan can mean the steers ancestors are from a fighting bull line.  However, if the black steer has white on his belly or face he more than likely has some Holstein blood in him.  For calves a Limousin calf certainly reacts differently than a jersey.  These inherited traits can give vital clues to the way the animal will behave in the arena.

Health is obviously a keen indicator in the way an animal will perform.  Some cues to the animal’s health are drooping ears, snotty nose, runny eyes, scours, and poor hair quality.  Conversely, an animal that has slick hair, bright eyes, and tight skin may be in excellent health and this sign, taken with others, could say that the animal will be more vigorous.

In addition to SEARCH, the shape of the horns is important in cold reading steers and the gender of the calf is important in reading calves.  Heifers tend to be wilder than steers. The shape of a steer’s horn can let you know if the steer is flat headed, an inside horn slipper, low headed…
You will notice the words “can”, “may”, and “might” repeatedly in this post.  This is intentional.  This isn’t a science but through some trial and error you may be able to gain a small competitive advantage by understanding how these details factor into your run.   

Ears= Short
Age=Older (note size at base of horn)
Range= Bigger than average in herd
Color= Solid red (indicates true Corriente)
Health= Excellent
The horns have a nice shape and size. (Indicating no obvious tendencies)
Cold read- tight skin and short ears coupled with the size and health of the animal says this heifer more than likely will “try” or “come at you”. Additionally, since this is clearly an older animal  I should prepare for some of the tricks that come with age (stopping, slipping a horn, or quitting on the corner).

Size= Medium-Smaller
Ears=Short a bit droopy
Age=Younger (note: dull growing immature base of the horn and tail barely past the hock)
Range= Middle to better end of the herd
Color= Spotted(longhorn influence-usually a good sign)
Health= fair to good (somewhat dead haired)
Horns are a bit straighter and shorter than ideal
Cold read: good steer - may run a little above average;  quite active - may try to slip an inside horn. Leave his head up.

In the end the Father is the only one who knows exactly how the animal you are about to compete on will act, so I try to take all of this valuable information in, then I simply trust that what is now IN me will come OUT of me at the proper time.  Then I simply rest in the knowledge that my Heavenly Father still speaks to me and sometimes after the run I can’t even explain how I knew a steer would do something it did - I just KNEW - and I believe that “knowing” is from the Father.

1 comment:

  1. This is great! Thanks again Rope! I know it has helped a lot in the last few years since I started inspecting the heard of animals at each rodeo/roping. Some may think it's silly, but it just gives you that much more of an advantage. I will definitely have to but SEARCH to use! Thanks aging Rope!