Monday, September 13, 2010

Of moving cows and spooking horses...

Moving cows is never ever boring, and yesterday was no exception because I took Roanie. I have mentioned many times before that Roanie needs glasses -- or just needs to get over her spookiness -- and yesterday was the first time we experienced moving cows. I must admit, as I unloaded Pink Pony I wondered if I would survive this ride. Half jokingly, of course. I cinched her up anyways, and climbed aboard just in time for a bloodthirsty sheep to look at us! 
 Lurch No. 1
 Roanie leaped sideways and nearly rammed into the trailer. Taking this *somewhat* in stride I pulled her head around and we did several circles at a trot until she calmed down enough to where we could hurry and catch up with the four other cowpokes. After a stressful and scary two mile ride through strange pastures, across the highway {also very scary for *some* of us}, and over a bridge, we reached a small holding pen containing about ten yearling cows and one of the biggest cows I have ever seen. Her bellow shook your very bones. Roanie nearly fainted. She's all ways been terrified of cows. Cue Lurch No. 2.
 I was ready for this one; I'd been ready since I first caught sight of the great black creatures, knowing this moment would come.  
We had to move the cow and yearlings from the holding pen to the pasture across the road so we could stick them in with the rest of the herd. So my job was to hold the road and make sure no cows got past and went the wrong way. Roanie and I were okay... until the cows started moving. Then she did the thing that of all the things horses do when they're nervous irritates me the most: she backed up, and up, and up.... When you're in this situation, there is little you can do to stop them, after all you can't pull back on the reins. Kicking to get them to move forward usually makes them go faster. The only advice I can give is pull their head around so that they have to circle. It works 80% of the time at least.
 Thank heaven it did this time, and I was able to get back into position before the cows came out the gate. Roanie stood rigid and watchful until the cows, somehow knowing exactly where to go, galumphed {gallop is too elegant a word to use for how they run} right into the pasture.
 Then we five riders rounded up the rest of the herd, about forty or fifty head, and proceeded to push them back the 2 1/2 miles back to the sorting pens{also where are trailer were at} where this years calves would be separated from their mothers to be vaccinated and weaned.
 Now, two and a half miles really isn't that far, especially in cattle driving standards, but when you're bringing up the rear with a bug-eyed, spooking horse that has just become aware of how far ahead the other horses have gotten and how many great black beasts are between us and the others, it can seem like eternity.
 We passed a swamp. A duck, that had waited for all those cows to go by, finely freaked out as Roanie and I passed, and with a great ducky scream, flapped loudly — still screaming — away.
 Lurch No. 3.
 Number three just about unseated me. If I hadn't laced my fingers in Roanie's mane — more like a death-grip -  I would have landed in the swamp myself. It wrenched my waist muscles pretty bad, I'm really feeling it today.
 The rest of the way was fairly uneventful. Roanie gradually got used to the cows and settled into a walk.  But I kept my reins high, just in case ;)

 We got the calves separated and vaccinated in good time. I think there were 30 of them.
And while the guys went and had the customary cowboy beer and chat *rolls eyes*, I cooled off Roanie by taking the long way back to the trailer.
 Lurch No. 4 came in the form of a young buck White Tail crashing about to high heaven in the trees. We were crossing a narrow dam at the time and when Roanie jolted to the side we very nearly slid off the edge; just another six inches or so and it would've been bye-bye Gwyn.
Somehow we made it home safe and sound.
 Poor Roanie. She was so lathered with sweat, whether from the heat{it was 80* and really sunny}, the hard work, the stress, or the pure terror. Probably all of the above.

 All the same, even with the near death experiences, I'm so proud of my Pink Pony :) She went way out of her comfort zone for me and held it together. What more could I ask?
Today I gave her the day off, and when I put them in for the night she came over for a rub, so I guess she still wuvs me, even after all I put her through. :)



  1. Poor Roanie! My sister's horse when we were growing up was terrified of cattle too. In fact so was her daughter lol. Glad everyone was safe.

  2. Yay Pink Pony!! :D Thanks for the tip about pulling them in a circle when they back up full speed. Indy does that sometimes. :) It sounds fun to herd cows! My friend and I tried to herd the other horses in the pasture, but we got in trouble. Rightly so, I guess :D
    Gaming just isn't my thing....I'd rather do ranch stuff, but I don't know if I have the bravery for it.

    Glad you survived!

  3. I love your pretty strawberry roan. :). What breed is she?

    Yes, I like your new blog look.
    Happy blogging and horsing :)


  4. Thank you :) She's a Quarter Horse.