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Halter Training


Halter training for the show ring produces a Longhorn that is also easier to manage in a daily routine.  We halter train all our calves at weaning.  We at CJ Longhorns believe in lots of patience and TLC, using only gentle training methods.




Where's my MAMA?!!

This little heifer calf is being weaned at 6 months of age.  She's fed good quality feed, free choice hay and clean water, along with salt blocks and mineral blocks, and she is handled and worked with daily.
 


Building trust

Just your presence, sitting and talking to them, soon allows the calves to have confidence in you.  You become a trusted companion.  
 

 
Fed by hand

When you get them eating out of your hands they really begin to bond with you.
 

 

Learning the lead is stronger

Begin by tying them to a post, being careful not to tie the lead too long so they will not get tangled in it. 
When you handle the lead, let them fight it at first but give them slack to help them regain their footing.  As they begin to learn to yield to the lead, give them slack immediately whenever they happen to take a step toward you.  Always begin by facing the calf and walking backwards talking to them calmly, encouraging them to walk toward you.  Sometimes this can be a bit of a rodeo, but be patient.  Remember, LOTS of TLC.



 

Leave the lead on

Training should be done in a small handling area where you can leave the lead on for a few days.  The calves will step on the lead and learn that they can't go if the lead won't let them.  You can step on the lead when you are trying to catch them up until they become hand tame.  Always reward them with a scratch on the head between the horns or a cattle cube.  They soon learn to love the attention.  After they become hand tame you can remove the lead between training sessions.

 


 

Learning to stand for grooming 

Blue Suzy, the calf on the left, did not take well to the grooming ritual.  She danced all over the place.  To this day, she still isn't particularly fond of being groomed, but she has learned to accept it with no incident. 
Waylon, the brown bull calf, on the other hand, didn't object one bit.  He seemed to enjoy it, but be very cautious when working around the rear feet, you could be kicked.  Some folks use a long handled brush to train with, until the calf gains confidence in being handled.

   


 

 
First bath

Always use caution washing near the feet and legs.  Most of the time they enjoy the water, but always use caution.

 


 
First walk on lead

The goal is to have the calf walk at your right elbow on a slack lead with their head up and their neck level.  Again, lots of patience is required.  At first they try to keep as far away from you as they can.  But they soon learn to do what's asked of them.

 


 
Plenty of praise

Stop often and encourage your calf with a friendly rub on the head or a tasty treat, then continue on your walk.  We have found that 20 minutes a day per calf is enough, no matter what part of training they're in. 

 


 
Lots of treats

Treats go a looong way towards building trust.  I always carry some in my pocket, or even in an old nail apron.

 


 
Introduction to show stick

Gently rub/scratch your calf all over with your show stick, down their side, along their back, down their legs.  This need not be done all in one session, but they eventually should learn the calming effect of the show stick.  Again, patience and TLC is required.  Some take to the stick quicker than others. 

 


 
Using show stick to control walking position

Willie was very comfortable with our walks.  So much so that he had a tendency to try and get ahead of me.  A tap on the nose with the show stick handle and the handle held in front of his face gave him the cue he needed to keep the proper pace and proper position.  Holding the lead up short and keeping his neck level to his shoulders helps Willie stay alert and in tune to the lead, keeping an excellent posture and a proper stride to show himself to his best advantage.   

First time setting up
 



Starlight is relaxed, and so am I.  She has her head in proper position and I am beginning to position her feet.  She can sense my calmness.  If she is not ready to cooperate, I walk her around in a small circle and ask again.  If I get aggravated she senses it and becomes agitated.  Then I will have lost control of the situation.



I have her head up.  The lead is taunt.  She is alert but calm.  I'm giving her a little quiet sweet talk while gently applying pressure between her toes with the point of the show stick.  This will position her feet squarely under her body.  Keep in mind this is a very sensitive area, and they don't like being touched there.  If she looses control, we start over again.  Remember, patience and TLC.




Starlight's looking good.  I'm still giving her some sweet talk while gently rubbing under her belly with the stick. 
 




I have stepped back to provide an unobstructed  view of Starlight, to show off her conformation.


It is important to keep the hind legs squarely
under the calf.  Not too far apart, and not too
close together.  This stance shows off the calf's
conformation while allowing an unobstructed
view of her udder, or if showing a bull, a clear
view of the bulls scrotum.  This is important
for presenting your calf to its best advantage
at a show.
 

Building trust at a very early age



 

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