What a fine looking pair! We had just chased the final cow through the gate. Looks like Mariah still wants to keep chasing them.
So we did. After you sort the cows yo have to move them back to the first pen so that the next pair can sort them all over again.
The first time I went in I thought that Mariah was going to spook at the cows. She didn't. We walked up to the first cow and she put her nose on it with out a flinch. One of the helpers was with us to show us what to do and tell us how to pick a cow and cut it out of the herd. After he helped us checked out a couple of more cows he proclaimed that Mariah was going to be a fine cow horse. He left us so Mariah and I could sort the remainder of the cows. And we got it done.
At first I thought cutting the cows out of the herd was going to be the hard part. It was easier than I thought. There are some tricks I need to work on to get better at cutting a specific cow out while leaving the remainder of the herd alone. If you get them too excited it makes it hard on the gate rider. All the cows end up running towards the gate and the gate rider cannot keep them all out. Turns out the gate rider has the harder job. I thought the gate rider had to keep the cows in but that is not the case. Once the cows are in they are perfectly happy to stay in. No, the gate rider is there to keep the cows out until their number is up.
It actually got a little harder as the day went on. Mariah started to feel more comfortable with the cows so she started picking up on my excitement a bit more. It was harder to keep her from charging into the cows and scattering them all over. I remembered Jane's (from The Literary Horse) mantra, "Don't scare the cows" and tried that. As I moved into the cows, I kept saying to myself, "Don't scare the cows," which served to calm me down. When I calmed down, Mariah calmed down and we did a bit better. We had an absolute blast.
Kumi and Kira came along but did not ride. They just watched and took pictures and videos. They did get a bit bored and I can't blame them (I have sat through my fare share of Westernaires practices) but they thought it looked like fun. Next time, and there will be a next time, they want to ride their own horses.
I mentioned that there was video. Here it is. This is the first time I tried to take a video from our camcorder and put it on the internet. As such, it didn't turn out quite as nice as I would have liked. I will keep practicing. In the mean time, here is the video evidence of my riding "prowess"!
0:00 to 1:00 - Second half of the my first run (Video crew distracted during first half)
1:00 to 1:10 - Random horse drinking water and the ground (Gotta love the video crew)
1:10 to 2:50 - Second run with my trainer Carly. It was a perfect run!
2:50 to end - A pony the video crew loved.
All told, I think I got in about 5 runs. The second run with my trainer, Carly, was perfect. I think it took us a bit longer than the 60 seconds allotted but we got the cows into the the sorting pen in the correct order. After lunch Mariah was a bit more excited so we didn't finish all of our runs in the allotted time. Still, there will be a second and third and more chapters to this story. It takes all the things I have been working with Mariah on and brings them together.
While standing in line we have to side pass our way to the front of the line. In the arena she has to respond to leg cues immediately and needs to stop on a dime. Participating in this provides a little incentive to get out and do more work with my horse. Which is a great way to spend a few hours anyway.
So there you have it. A first timers visit to a ranch sorting. Looking forward to more.