Monday, November 10, 2008

Who Would of Thunk It???

Oh my goodness!!! We had an absolute blast yesterday!!! So the official theme of the clinic was "Cow Rating," as taught by Gail Wilinson, a professional cutting horse trainer. It was actually all about how to rate, pick, and sort your cattle, and then how to hold them, and move them down to the awaiting pen (basically it was team penning), and not about cutting cattle, so we actually all did pretty well. I will apologize ahead of time to those of you who are familiar with team penning/cattle sorting, and to those of you who are not, because I do not remember the correct terminology for any of the things that we did, except for what a sweeper, wing person, and hole person are. I also am sad to say that I was unable to get any pictures, because we all three had to compete as a team, so I couldn't very well say "Hold it right there! I need to get a shot of this!" LOL!!! I did just get an e-mail from the owner of the barn, that said that there was a photographer there taking pictures (I had no idea!) and that they will post them on their site as soon as they are available, so stay tuned.
(Picture of Bo last August) "Cow horse? I ain't no stinking cow horse!!! I am a purebred Arabian, Mel!!! Since when do I chase cows around!!"
Let me start off by talking about Bo Bo. This was his first time being around cattle, other than the time that he and Amber chased two cows back down a trail and into their pasture, about eight years ago. While he did really well, it was not because he paid attention to the cattle and what they were doing, it was only because he is so well trained, and was able to move off of my legs telling him where to go. In other words, Bo is definitely not "cowey," but I think that he will learn what it is that I expect him to do, without me having to ask so much, because he is smart. This being said, his strong point was not being the horse that went in and picked out the three steers...he did better at holding the line, or keeping the herd at bay, and holding the cattle that we had sorted out until it was time to move them to the pen. So, for future penning competitions/clinics, Bo and I will be the sweeper (the horse that helps push the cattle down the arena and towards the wing person/pen) and the holder.
(Kristina and China last September at the Trail Challenge) "Aren't we just too cute???!! Don't worry out there, we've got your back!"
Next we had Kristina and China, (we were really not worried about China's performance because she is a Paint), and she definitely lived up to her breeds heritage. Like I said, it was hard to watch each other out there, because we were all working as a team, but Kristina and China just got right in there and moved those steers! China was not timid at all, and she proved herself, under Kristina's guidance of course, to definitely fit in to the "cowey" category. Kristina and China seemed to be the best at sorting the cattle and then helping to move them down the arena, and also at taking up the wing position (the horse to the right of the pen, who keeps the cattle from slipping between the pen and an open space, and dashing back to their herd), or the hole position (the horse to the left of the pen, that effectively blocks that cattle from slipping between the wall and the pen, and running back to the herd. This horse and rider work alone, without the help of the other two horses/riders ,until it is time to run the cattle into the pen).
(Waska last July) "This is really dumb! Now lets go chase us some steers!!!"Lastly, and the most surprising of all, we had Amber and Waska, who had only been around cattle one other time. Honestly, we weren't expecting great things from Waska, because he is 1/2 Arab and 1/2 Saddlebred, and I don't know about you, but we have never heard of either of those breeds being "cowey." can imagine our great surprise, when he and Amber approached the herd of 14 steers, and Waska dropped his head down, pinned his ears back, and started cutting them! Totally unbelievable!!! Gail even came up to Amber, not once, but twice, and said that she needed to get him around cattle, because "she had herself a really cowey little gelding there." Obviously then, Waska and Amber proved that they were capable of doing any of the positions that were asked of them, either sorter, holder, sweeper etc...
In retrospect, team penning/cattle sorting definitely works better if you have a horse that knows, or likes what it is doing, but the riders skill level, as well as the difficulty or ease of the cattle that you have to sort, is really what makes up a good team. We will definitely be doing this again!!! Oh...and just so you know, whoever came up with the one and a half minute time limit!!! I think that you should have at least three minute per cow!!
Also, for those of you who are wondering how many times we were able to sort/pen, it was twice without cattle, and three times with the cattle.
Again...sorry that there are no pictures, but I will see if I can get some off of the farm's website once they are up.
Have a great Monday! I am off to write up yet another paper proposal, and to go check out a library book on team penning/cattle!!!


lytha said...

oh, i've always wanted to try that. you are so lucky! quarter horses are getting really popular in germany now, and western riding too (*giggle*), but i have to ask, "so, like, do you guys chase cows?" cuz i can't imagine it here.

yes, they do. but it's very expensive to have cows you can chase, and then i guess the cows get saavy and quit obeying the horses after a while. so then you need new cows.

oh well, it's fun to read about your fun!

Grey Horse Matters said...

All of the horses are beautiful and each has a special talent of their own. I know nothing about any of this, but have seen it on TV and thought it looked like fun. I know I'll never try it, but have fun for me.

Gail said...

We will be training Magic Man in the spring. My hubby has been waiting to make a cow horse of him.
Sounds like you had a ball!

C-ingspots said...

Oh Melanie - I am so glad you had fun!! See, you got yourselves some good horses there. They would do anything for you!! They're not afraid of no steenking cows!!! I'm happy for you, you little cowgirl you!
p.s. your horses are beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

Paige said...

You missed the biggest element of penning---LUCK! It plays such a role in the way the cattle line up, etc.

And too cowy will get you in trouble--hands down the best attribute a horse can have when moving cattle like that is to be point n shoot.

Sounds like you had a good time!

Andrea said...

I used to Team Pen, it's soooo much fun. I had a paint blue roan, Smokin Dry Doc. He was aweseome. We never won, but we sure had fun. I would pay 20 bucks for three runs. It was a blast. I miss those days.

It sure looks like you guys had lots of fun. I wish we had stuff like that around here. I am going to be sending my three year old to a cutting trainer in a few months. I can't wait. Cows here I come!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh my gosh Melanie!! I am absolutely thrilled for you! The only thing that would have made it better is if I could have been there to watch and cheer you on, my friend! (And take pics, too!)
What a thrill!

Way to go BoBo and Waska, too!

Way to go!! I'm grinning from ear to ear HUGE right now, just picturing you out there with Bo chasing the bovine doggies. lol!


ps, I replied to your comments you left for me on my blog, too. :)
Love ya!

Breathe said...

Sounds like a blast!

Do cows really become less freaked out by horses? So an experienced cow will just stand there and say 'rope me and get it over with'?

Too fun and am looking forward to the pix!

Pony Girl said...

What a fun experience! I am SO proud of your 1/2 Saddlebred, too! Just goes to show that many breeds are more versatile than one would think!
Can't wait to see the pics of you guys in action!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

You make it sound like a lot of fun. I've only ever practiced competition style team penning/sorting a couple of times. I found the time limit difficult too-because my family would chew your butt for working with cattle as fast as you need to, to get them penned in the time allowed. Even my competitive side could not override the way I was raised to work cattle-LOL.
Oddly I'm not surprised that Waska showed some cow. I've ridden Arabians that were really cowy and two Saddlebreds that were aggressive toward cattle too. And ridden QH's that wanted nothing to do with cattle. Just goes to show, you never know what you have until you try-LOL.

To answer Breathe...yes, cattle get to the point where they just won't move away from a horse. Roping steers and calves learn to duck and dive, drop their heads or the worst-just stop running when they hear the rope being thrown. You release your rope, they stop and your loop goes sailing over their head. Cutting cattle will stop running back and forth for you and team penning/sorting cattle get very difficult to move away from the herd. You have to practically run into them with your horse and they still won't move. Sometimes time off helps "freshen" them up, but usually you just have to get new ones when they figure out bad habits and quit working. That is why having a horse trained for cattle events is so expensive.

Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

What fun! I want to put Lester in front of cows and see what he'd do, LOL, i'm sure it wouldn't be pretty...I'm not sure he's ever seen any.
We've tried herding goats and greyhounds before, but it's not the same I'm sure:-)

Melanie said...

Thanks for all of your comments you guys! It was a really fun day. The only down side to it, is that I only have limited time and money that I can spend on my horsey habit while I am in school. I cannot seriously get involved in anything, and it can be really frustrating...for me and my!!!

Saddle Mountain Rider said...

I loved your blog again today. I have always enjoyed watching the athleticism of a good cowhorse. I know very little about cutting, but more, now that i have read your report.
And thanks for responding to the Julie Goodnight question. And i am really glad that you post-scripted the second message because the first one was pretty screwed up!!! I was beginning to think that you had been into the cactus juice a might early today! I am relieved to see that the typos were just a sign that you are losing your mind! Much easier for me to deal with.... heh, heh,heh.

sidetracked said...

WOW that sounded like an absolute blast and your pics were great. I have often thought about doing that with Possum since nothing seems to phase him, but I'm reluctant to give up my english saddle....

Stephanie said...

Oh Man! I am so jealous - I have always wanted to try that too!

Did I tell you that me and Stretch moved cattle for part a day this summer? My trainer's daughter was practicing roping again and needed someone to push the cows back down to the shoots, I had seen Joe do it before with Pat who had no problem at all with it so I just walked up there and preceded to move the cows on down to the chutes - Stretch of course was fascinated with all the cows and was actually reaching out to touch them with his top lip when one wasn't moving fast enough - ear perked forward the whole time, he loved it.

It makes me happy to know that all the "show horse" breeding we do hasn't bred all the cow out of our Quarter Horses yet.

Half Arabian and half Saddlebred doesn't that make him an American Show Horse?

He's cute! Amazing isn't it? How some just take to it. I mean, at one point in time all horses worked some form of "cattle" or another right? Maybe after all these years some of that original "I am in charge of the cows, sheep, camels, whatever..." still pops up every now and then in all breeds.

Adventures Of A Horse Crazed Mind said...

Sounds like fun! I think there is a penning book in that Western Horsemen series. A minute and half doesnt seem like much time at all! I won a saddle blanket penning once but I dont remember doing much to earn it. I know that penning has really taken off over the past five years or so and is one of the fastest growning equine sports so there should be new clubs and events starting more and more!

Train Wreck said...

Oh that does sound like fun! BEC is right. Some horses are more cowy than others, no matter what breed they are. And LOL! Team penning is WAy different from bringing in a herd when you are ranching! Allthough we had some"Cowboys" try that method once... I can't wait to see more pictures! said...

So you can teach an old horse new tricks and how about 30 something rider/people??? Glad a good time was had by all!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

That must have been fun! Working cows is something I'd like to try one day. My Arabian mare is in foal to a three time Reserve Champion Working Cow Horse and he's full Arabian too. So yes, Arabs can be very cowy. In fact, there's very little that Arabs can't do.
Bo is gorgeous in that photo and that is quite a look Waska is giving. Is China so named for her eye(s)?