FAQ Riding

What does a “cow bred” horse actually mean?

cow bred horse in herd
Written by Horse Rookie

Even if you’re an experienced rider, stepping into the cow working world can be very confusing (and, um, dirty). There’s a lot of terminology that you haven’t heard elsewhere but that cowboys and cowgirls toss around like its second nature. One such phrase is “cow bred.”

Firstly, the term “cow bred” is used to describe horses — not cattle. As with most animals, horse breeding impacts their overall health, aptitude for specific activities, and appearance. In the western riding world, “cow bred” means that a horse has proven cutting, cow working, or even roping horses in its genealogy. In this way, it has been intentionally bred to be “cowy.”

Popular Cow Horse Bloodlines

Having talented cow working horses in its background doesn’t guarantee your horse will be a natural. It is, however, more likely that cow bred horses will have an easier time learning how to work cattle — and be better at it.

While some lines are broadly renowned, a lot of breeding comes down to personal preference. Here are some popular choices for cow bred horses:

  • Doc Bar
  • Driftwood
  • Peppy San Badger
  • Two-Eyed Jack
  • High Brow Cat
  • Reminic
  • Smart Little Lena
  • CD Lights
  • Metallic Cat
  • One Time Pepto
  • Joe Hancock
  • Dual Ray
  • Little Peppy

This video shows characteristics of a cow bred horse:

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About the author

From the tender age of six, I embarked on a journey that would weave horses into the very fabric of my existence. Over 35 years have passed since I first mounted a horse, and my love for equestrian sports is stronger than ever before.