Here is a jockey sorting cattle on a retired racehorse

Here’s something not even the capricious Horse Racing Gods could have predicted: Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron sorting cattle, mounted on an OTTB, at Pimlico Racecourse.

Life is strange and full of wonders.

Now for the record, I don’t know how to sort cattle, so I can’t comment too heavily on McCarron’s method, although at a guess I would say he also doesn’t know how to sort cattle. I think he’s a little taut on the reins for this horses’ liking – I think the horses do most of the work in this game and he’s saying “yo dude, let go of my face and I will totally round up this cow for you.” (The horse is from southern California in this particular dream dialogue I am cooking up.)

But I could be wrong. Cattle sorting enthusiasts, set me straight! What’s happening here?

UPDATE: Wonderful commenters gave us the inside scoop, and their details turn this great story into a truly extraordinary one. This horse, named Automobile, is literally fresh off the racetrack, and has less than a half dozen rides under his girth before he found himself sorting cattle. He was a replacement horse when the originally scheduled horse developed a cough. (So feel better, poor guy with a cough!)

So I encourage you to watch this video with fresh eyes, not just an OTTB doing his job, but an OTTB being asked to do something entirely new! And accomplishing it with relative aplomb!

When I think about how many horses I’ve been on who have taken one look at a cow in the far distance and decided it was halfway past time to head for the hills….

This guy is an inspiration!

And so without further ado, straight from the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium to you, Chris McCarron sorting cattle, on an OTTB, at Pimlico Racecourse.



Filed under Media Coverage, Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge, Thoroughbred Horse Shows, Western Thoroughbreds

11 responses to “Here is a jockey sorting cattle on a retired racehorse

  1. Cate Burnette

    You’re right…he’s way too tight in this horse’s mouth. Cutting horses and cow horses are trained to do all the work. All the rider has to do is point the horse at the cow they want and the horse will get down in his head and front and push the cow along. It’s obvious to me that Chris is nervous and holding this horse too tight and the horse does NOT like it.

    • Thanks Kate! Maybe it’s not even that he’s nervous (embarrassed!) but just that he’s not used to giving a horse its head… ever! Kind of the opposite of that hold you take on the racetrack. The horse, in this case, is more versatile than the rider. 🙂

  2. Umm, dude . . . Has Chris never heard of Neck Reining? Yes, get off that horse’s mouth, and quit dragging him all over the place – ouch! (This is funny, by the way. Harder than it looks, right? Just get that one particular cow . . .)

  3. Yeah… I would hate for this to turn into a rag on Chris session, but it must have been nerves alright.

    • Ha! No disrespect meant for Chris. He was a good sport to even attempt this. I hope they did have some riders at the event that showcased some of these OTTBs doing well in this event. Would have loved to watch the whole thing! 🙂

  4. Michelle Pitts

    The grey (named Automobile) had only been ridden 4 or 5 times since coming off the track, so really he’s doing a great job. He’s not been trained yet to be a cutting horse- he was brought to show that a horse off the track really can be very sane and workable. Can anyone imagine taking a TB right off the track and having him to that well with a bunch of nervous cattle? None of the riders had ever done team sorting before either and I can’t imagine the small pen setup is really ideal! Kudos to Chris and the other jocks for being good sports!

    • Holly Evans

      Considering lots of horses flip out their first time working cows, or even first few times working cows (including QHs bred for it!), he is doing incredibly well! And if you’ve never sorted cattle before, especially if you’re used to having constant contact, it’s a big change. Both you and the horse have to be able to read the cow, its not something you can go out and do great at the first time. McCarron is doing pretty well for not knowing how to read a cow, and props to him for trying it!!

  5. Andrea Seefeldt Knight

    In defense of Chris and to the horses credit… Neither one had ever done this before. This is a retired TB racehorse that had only two weeks of training before this event. He replaced a more experienced horse that developed a cough and couldn’t make the trip …. put Chris on a made horse, that knows how to neck rein, and you will see a difference..

  6. Great job! The horse appears to like it, not being hurt. Comes with practice. I had one Ottb that sorted a d did ranch work. They love doing it. Read Bill Dorrance’s book. He used a rescue T B mare for cattle and roping.

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