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Cutie and Appy

May 16, 2009

The last few days have been filled with herding cows, oogling over baby beeves, riding horses, sitting in trucks, sitting on tractors, getting covered in bull poo (quite literally…the round bale fell in it), training the baby horses, playing pool at the local bar, feeding, feeding, feeding, eating, anticipating the new girl, meeting the new girl and liking her, paper lists, going to roping practice, trailering, cringing at new aches and pains, impromptu jams in the staff room, sweeping, raking, hiking at dusk, and shed finding.

For being nine miles away from the middle of nowhere, this place is pretty happening.

I’ve been back a little over a week now and I feel like I’ve accomplished more than I would in a month back home. I love feeling this useful.

Especially when working comes in the form of riding. I’ve spent the majority of the last two days on horseback and I’m school girl giddy about it. We have five bebbies from Texas on the ranch….one is in a fellow wrangler’s charge, two are in mine, and two are still in the winter pasture. My two projects are:

Cutie McHerdBound

pre-season 035

and

pre-season 033

AppyMcHatesBarn

Cutie aka Hawk is 4 or 5 and has had about 2 hours of saddle exposure. We’re working on learning to love the bit and go cues from the ground. We’re also learning that monsters will not eat us if we 50 ft away from the herd instead of the usual .25 inch. Appy aka Spunks has had the most time under saddle and is learning to neck rein. She’s learning to do this inside a roundpen because she shares an annoying character trait with Cutie: outside the zen zone of the rounpen she becomes reminded that she isn’t with her buddies and becomes an agitated nit. Both are progressing rather well though. Cutie walks off with a shoulder tap and Appy responds to rein cues about 50% of the time.

Also got to ride while herding the cows from the lower pasture to the arena to be sorted, and then from the arena back to the pasture. My trusty steed for this endeavor was Mr. Sparky. Mr. Sparky is a midgety 14.2 hands of pure go. After a skinny winter, he’s fat and frisky and feelin’ good and let me know it as soon as my butt hit the saddle. Ping! Bounce. Buck. Hop. Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. English riding has taught me how to ride out a buck on a 17hh horse with only a slip of leather, so dealing with Spark’s performance was like a kiddie carnival ride. 14.2? Huge saddle with a horn? Piece of cake. Wish I got some footage though. Bet I looked cool.

One of my favorite parts about riding out here is the cool factor. I’m totally not a cowboy, but I get to play one. I get to wear chinks and a snazzy hat and plaid buttondowns. I get to look impressive by riding jiggy horses in front of people that know nothing about them. When cars make a wrong turn off the highway and drive up our drive, they see me herding cows and stop so that their kids can watch. I hope someone out there has a picture of me on their mantle because I look so darn authentic….

I digress….back to the cow herding.

Mr. Sparky calmed down well enough for cattle herding. Which we got to do with Mrs. Ranch Owner. Doing anything with any of the Ranch Owning family requires imagination, good hearing, and amzing deciphering skills. They’ve had the luxury of doing this for decades, and have all learned the shorthand of the ranching world. They say things that are completely obvious to them, but that require about ten minutes of clarification for us. Yesterday’s herding instructions: You get the upside when I come around.

Upside of what? Come around where?

I ask for clarification.

“Help if you need. They’ll be coming this way.”

*puzzled look*

“Through the gate! Upside!”

Sure. Okay. Got it. Maybe. I think.

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