Cows look all the same yeh? I mean seriously how does one black cow look different to the next, especially when they are the same size, sex and state of health? And then how the hell do you remember 30 of them and on top of that you have to keep track of which ones have been worked or not? Arrrgh!!!! Yes cutting is certainly a mind game!
You might have a great horse, you might be a great at riding a cutting horse and even confident making cuts, but do you go into the arena knowing which cows you are going to cut?
Do you leave watching cows up to your trainer, or your herd-help? Or do you just hope that the right cow offers itself up in the herd?
Until you take full responsibility for the cows you pick, then you are really just competing on a wing and prayer. The time always comes when you have to step up and own the whole process of showing if you want to progress in the sport.
If you don’t know what makes a good cow to cut, that’s ok. The first step in the process is just to start observing them. It’s amazing how much you can learn by watching and asking questions.
If you don’t know how to differentiate the cows in a herd, especially when you have a bunch of black angus, check out our video with Gabe Reynolds and Cullen Chartier in Video Categories under Showing, then go to Herd Work , who give excellent explanations on how to do exactly that.
For many, the biggest challenge is memorizing the herd. It’s a skill the best competitors have certainly mastered. There are many things you can do to help you remember. Some are lifestyle, long-term habits you can form (which have many other benefits) and others are tips you can apply straight away.
Write it down
One of the simplest things you can do immediately is to write down every cow in the herd with a description. Writing something down instantly helps you to recall it. To make it even more effective, draw a picture of each cow and exaggerate their main descriptive feature/s. You don’t have to be an artist, this is purely for your recall. Another trick is to give each cow a crazy, unusual name about one its features that will help you remember it.
Let’s get to the lifestyle tips that will improve your memory. (Ok get the groaning and eye-rolling over with – but yes it does requires some effort!)
- Eat Right. The foods you eat – and don’t eat – play a crucial role in your memory. (That means cutting back on those burgers and baked potatoes at the Coliseum and maybe throw in a salad not drowned in ranch. Gluten is also widely linked to brain fog.)
- Exercise. …(Ok you’re good here – loping for hours definitely counts)
- Stop Multitasking. …(That means getting off that iphone while you watch those cows!)
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep. …(That means putting down the phone and going to sleep!)
- Play Brain Games. …(more on this below)
- Master a New Skill. …(Insert fun here! How about taking up whittling or playing the spoons?)
- Try Mnemonic Devices. (that’s a fancy word for memory tools – more on that below)
Invest at least 20 minutes a day playing various brain games, but no more than five to seven minutes on a specific task. When you spend longer amounts of time on one task, the benefits weaken (according to studies). A great online source for boosting your memory is Luminosity.com. Another is BrainHQ.com, both sites have been developed by scientists and offer some games for free.
Don’t be put off by the high-tech sound of these tools. Essentially, they are handy tricks and techniques you can use to help organize information to make recalling it much easier. Examples are:
- Acronyms (such as PUG for “pick up grapes”)
- Visualizations (such as imagining a tooth to remember your dentist’s appointment)
- Rhymes (if you need to remember a name, for instance, think “Shirley’s hair is curly)
- Chunking, which is breaking up information into smaller “chunks” (such as organizing numbers into the format of a phone number)
This is probably one of the best techniques for cutting. It’s a method used by two-time USA Memory Champion, Ron White. Click HERE to read a blog post he wrote about using a system of mental maps. You can easily apply this to memorizing cows. In fact you will be amazed at the amount of knowledge you will be able to store.
Make sure you get some sun. Vitamin D helps the part of the brain that forms new memories. Research has shown up to 85% of the American public may be Vitamin D deficient. In older adults, research has shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with poorer brain function, and increasing levels may help keep older adults mentally fit.
But be like Goldilocks, not too much sun and not too little, just the right amount. Of course this means getting sun exposure without wearing sunblock. It varies between skin type, time of day and the season, but an average of 15 minutes a day of sun exposure is very good for the brain and the body to ensure you get enough vitamin D. Just use your common sense and the second you start to feel uncomfortable in the sun, then cover up.
What do you do to help remember those cows? Do you have any tips or a system for keeping track of the herd? Enter your comments below!