Preview: Duncan Steele-Park: How to Train and Work Buffalo
Buffalo! Everyone knows about them, but not so many use them. Whether it’s unfamiliar territory or just plain daunting to work these beasts of the open plains, many people have not yet incorporated buffalo into their training system. Working buffalo can not only be an effective training tool, it can save thousands of dollars that would have been spent on cattle. In this 5-part series, Duncan Steele-Park shows you how to handle, prepare and train buffalo for cutting horses to help streamline your work day and your budget.
The first thing Duncan wants before he works buffalo is to make sure that they are very comfortable and relaxed in the arena. He will keep them up near the arena for a few days so they can really settle. When he lets them in the arena he walks away for a few hours so they can explore all of it.
Duncan begins the training of a fresh buffalo and demonstrates how he gets one patterned to travel straight across the arena. The most important point is that you allow the buffalo to think. You need to guide, not pressure, the buffalo to where you want her to go. Once they begin to travel in the direction you want them to go, make sure you give them a big release by walking away from them and let them sit.
Here the buffalo pushes on Duncan a little because she wants to get back to the gate but he doesn't allow her to get there. When she heads to the spot he wants her to go he releases her. It's a gradual process and being consistent and aware of what the buffalo is thinking is crucial because they are always looking for direction.
Duncan works some 3-yr-olds on buffalo that have had about two weeks of training. The best thing about buffalo once they are trained is that if a they go to push on your horse and if you hold your line the buffalo will release you. So your horse gets rewarded for staying up against the buffalo.