It’s that time of year again! Two year olds are being started and the ever important foundation for the rest of their career is being established.
Reserve NCHA Futurity champion for the second year running, Adan Banuelos has already earned in excess of $3 million in the show-pen. At just 31 years of age, Adan has proven his mastery in the show pen. Now we take a closer look at his skill as a horseman and learn how he handles his two year olds.
Adan is captivating to watch and listen to because he is such a student of the horse. His respect for the horse is admirable. He reiterates all the time how he likes to TEACH his horses something rather than TELL them!
Adan wants to instill a “where’s the cow” mentality in his horses, so that no matter what angle they land or where they end up (past the cow or behind the cow) that they want to find the cow and go with it.
“There is no position where they should not be hunting the cow,” says Adan.
Adan explains his very unique way of getting a horse to search for the cow and how to get bend whilst leading with his nose in the turn. To do this Adan likes to leave his horses sitting a little further outside of the cow when stopped so they have to look for the cow.
“In order to look for it, they have to bend their head and neck and use their outside eye or outside ear to hunt the cow. And when they start searching like this then I feel very confident that the horse is hooked to the cow. Because they stop straight and then they go back in and look for it. They are hunting it with 100% of their mind, not just 50%.”
Adan warns against making this sport unnecessarily difficult.
“We are perfectionists and want to win all the time, but you are dealing with animals that are really dumb [the cows], and animals that don’t speak English [the horses] so you have to really pick your battles and not let your emotions get involved. Whenever that horse is good, just trust it.”
Adan will let a young horse cut for a few seconds and he says although it may not be perfect, it is unique because that horse is doing it his or her way. And Adan really strives to promote anything unique in the horse. He says he has a long time to work on structure, so he’s working on the basics about 60% of the time now. He wants to promote something that is fun to watch because cutting is a judged event.
“The way it looks is just as important as how it feels. You can’t let it go too far though to where the horse just wants to dance in front of a cow making it hard to show.”
That is why Adan focuses so much on making a horse trot when working cattle because it makes them easier to show.
“If you can help it try not to let them get into a lope because you can regulate the trot more and they can only go so fast at the trot. There is no limit to the speed when they are loping. It’s also a lot harder to slow a horse down, then to speed one up when you’re showing. Especially with the horses most trainers get to ride now, they have a lot of energy and ability.”
A big part of Adan’s success is his ability to be aware of what his horses are thinking because he adjusts his works according to what he feels the horse needs in that moment. He demonstrates this consistently throughout his videos on CHTO. He is not afraid to put a horse in an uncomfortable position to help them understand that everything is ok and that they have the option to make a decision on their own.
“That way the horse is being taught something rather than being told something.” Another intriguing feature of Adan’s program is that he doesn’t focus on pulling horses into the stop. He would prefer to focus on drawing them back rather than stopping because it allows for a softer stop that keeps their feet and mind free.
“Drawing rather than stopping one all the time is important because it teaches the horse to go into the ground with more of a bent, softer hock instead of going in kind of welded to the ground. It creates health problems, and when it’s time to turn, the hock is already stiff so it’s hard to get them to absorb the ground or impact. Let the horse go by his spot and draw him back that way you always keep those hocks bent before the turn and it will make it easier on them knowing they have the freedom to move their feet so they aren’t trapped.”
Adan also gives great insight to his thought process on how to become successful and it’s all about embracing failure.
“Don’t be afraid to fail or to lose. I think the only way to win is to understand failure and to adjust after a failure. And to not let it get you down. Every time you fail, you’re just a step closer to a victory.”
Brought To You By: Northern Star Equine