My Horse And Cows

By Terry Golson

We’ve all grown up the visual story of cowboys on horses, herding cattle across the plains. Of horses fearlessly chasing down the rogue steer.

But horses aren’t born believing that they’re the masters of cows. They have to learn this. Most horses that I know haven’t had the opportunity to get to know what a cow is, let alone work one. The truth is that cows can freak out horses. They’re big, smelly, and make loud noises.

Tonka, though, grew up in Texas. Daddy was a well-known roping stud. (For more about Tonka’s breeding and upbringing, read this.) When Tonka was young, his owner played around on him a bit with ranch work. So, when Tonka gets a whiff of cattle (even if they’re placid New England dairy cows) he knows what’s around the bend.

See those flared nostrils and the upright head and neck? We’re headed towards the milking parlor.


But Tonka isn’t much interested in what’s in these barns.


What I’ve learned is that when Tonka smells cows, he assumes that means that somewhere nearby must be cowponies. Tonka gets a bit more keen scanning the area.


When the cows come into view, he neighs loudly to announce that he’s here, too. Hello!

It’s disappointing to Tonka when he realizes it’s just boring Holsteins under a tree.

What does your horse think about cows?

8 thoughts on “My Horse And Cows

  • Cynthia Cooper

    My horses love being around cows too – very entertaining.
    And I’m sure you know that ‘cross training’ for horses is good for them 🙂 I’ve heard of a few dressage riders who work cattle to give their horses a sense of purpose and fun!

    • Terry Golson Post author

      It’s hard around here to find opportunities to meet cows, let alone work them. But once in awhile there’s an “introduction to cow work” clinic. If I can find one, I’ll sign up!

  • Gin

    My horses don’t really think too much about cows, I haven’t ridden these horses around cattle much. If the bull across the road gets to hollering they go on alert, so it could be pretty exciting if one of them got loose and came over this way.
    Do you think Tonka ever feels like the odd man out? Misses his cow pony buddies?

    • Terry Golson Post author

      I don’t think he thinks about whether he should be a cowpony or not, but when we’re trail riding on our own and he sees cows, he sure thinks that his horse buddies should pop out of the woods 🙂

  • Shelley Combs

    I have to confess: I wasn’t even looking for the cows in the last picture. I was gaping at that fantastic tree!

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