South Dakota cow and horse whisperer Curt Pate demonstrates how to herd yearlings during a workshop Saturday at the Williams Lake Stockyards for local 4H members

South Dakota cow and horse whisperer Curt Pate demonstrates how to herd yearlings during a workshop Saturday at the Williams Lake Stockyards for local 4H members

Cattle skills honed at weekend clinic

Local 4-H members, their families and interested area ranchers gathered Saturday at the Williams Lake Stockyards for a workshop.

Local 4-H members, their families and interested area ranchers gathered Saturday at the Williams Lake Stockyards for a workshop with horse and cow whisperer Curt Pate.

Pate is from South Dakota and for more than a decade has been conducting demonstrations and clinics on stockmanship, colt starting, horsemanship and safety. The Williams Lake Veterinary Hospital invited him to conduct a full day workshop as part of its continuing education program.

In the morning session, Pate worked with yearlings in the arena, demonstrating things like roping and herding.

“It doesn’t matter if you are working with five or 500, the principles are the same,” Pate told the crowd of about 100 adults and children.

As he demonstrated how to teach animals how to get in line, he said when children go to school they are taught to line up too.

“It’s like a good battery in an old flashlight,” he said. “If you line up the heads and tails, like the positive and negative ends, it works great.”

Working with animals consistently is important, he stressed, adding every time he works with an animal he wants it to get better.

If children have to walk to the mail box, take their animal along, he suggested.

He also warned them never talk on a cell phone while working with animals.

“You have to give them your full attention,” he added.

During the morning break, 10-year-old Alex Kaufman said it’s his first year with Springhouse 4H, although he has grown up with cattle on his family ranch.

“I am excited to go try out some things he’s shown us,” Alex said.

“Like how you can train your steer without a halter.”

Isaac Bedford lives on an old homestead at 134 Mile House where his family has three cows, including a milk cow.

“This morning I’ve learned not to crowd the cow so much,” Isaac smiled.

Some people think cattle are slow to learn, but that’s not the case, Pate insisted.

“We have this mental image of cattle being slow and dull, but they can learn very quickly.”

When it comes to working with them, timing is crucial and it’s important not to be late in making decisions, he said.

“I tell people all the time, if you’re late it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have.”