Using a combination of the flight zone and point of balance, you can make the cattle move forward or you can make them turn, McCollum says.

“So if you want cattle to move straight ahead, move forward, you need to be working at about a 45-60°angle off that shoulder. They can still see you back there; you’re not in the blind spot. If you want to turn cattle, move toward that point of balance. The more you move toward that point of balance, the more that steer is going to turn off.”

Another thing handlers can use to advantage is herd instinct. Cattle want to move together.

“An example of using all three of those – point of balance, flight zone and herding instinct – is when you’re in the processing area trying to move cattle down the snake,” he says. Assume all the cattle are lined up and they’re stopped. You want them to move. The first thing the handler should do is to start out standing away from the snake so you’re out of the flight zone and not pressuring the cattle. If you want the cattle to start to move, move into the flight zone of the first animal.

“So you move up to the side of the snake and start walking against those cattle. As soon as you cross the point of balance of that first steer, you’re in his flight zone and behind the point of balance, he starts moving forward. Continue walking down the chute so you’re behind the point of balance of all of them and they’re moving forward. Then your return is to get out of the flight zone and walk back to the front.”

What’s going to happen if you walk back up the snake? “They’re going to stop or start slowing down. As you walk forward, the first steer is going to stop because you’re now in front of his point of balance,” McCollum says.

It may be, he adds, that to get them moving down the snake, that all you have to do is move in and out. “So the cattle are moving, it looks like they’re slowing down, step into the flight zone behind the point of balance. When they start moving forward, you back out and let everybody follow.”

You can also use that process when handling groups of cattle. When you’re in the pen looking at those cattle, find those that are paying attention to you,” McCollum says. “They’re the initiators, the ones that are going to initiate movement. Get them moving, then let the rest follow them out."