For several months now RB3 has been trying to convince me to go cattle sorting. The bigger problem is that it is on a Wed night and she has to leave around 345p to get there and I work at that time. Right before the new year, however, opportunity seemed to strike and one of my vacation days was on a Wednesday. After some pleading, the plan was to go to cattle sorting on Wednesday night, go on a trail ride Thursday morning and have a lesson Thursday night. This meant that the TWH would need to go to cattle sorting and have a lesson, yay!
While I was looking forward to cattle sorting on the TWH, I was really, truly nervous about how he would perform. Would he be cool and take it in, taking the confidence from his rider like I have been trying to teach or would he have a melt down and have smoke and boiled brain ooze out of his ears like he had done so many times when I first started working with him? Unfortunately there wasn't anything I could do to prepare him either, it was "go and see".
We got up there Thursday night with very little time to spare thanks to some unfavorable road conditions and as I was finishing tacking up they called my name to be in the ring. I yelled over to pass me over because not only was I not ready, I really wanted the TWH to watch what was happening before I threw him in the ring with some calves. I finished getting ready and parked the TWH with his nose against to the round pen panels and let him sit and ponder. His reaction is absolutely not what I expected, his ears were up and he was attentive but he really, truly Did. Not. Care.
The cattle sorting went like this. There were two round pen circles next to each other with the panel removed where they touched, making the ring be a big figure 8. There were 10 calves of various sizes and ages and they were wearing a numbered "jacket" that listed 1-10. The announcer would randomly assign you with a partner and then also yell a random number. You went in with the other person and you took turns getting the cows in numerical order, alternating one person getting the cow and the other "guarding" the gate to ensure errant cows didn't go in the top pen, the "catch area". After one person grabbed, say, number 2, the partner would grab cow number 3 while the first person would guard the gate. When the partner came back with the cow, they would guard the gate while the first person would catch cow number 4 and so forth.
When we went in for our first "draw" I told the partner it was our first time and I had no idea how the TWH would act. They were very generous and told us to take our time. I walked the TWH into the cow pen and he walked right over to them like it was no big deal. We successfully got our calf and brought it back and guarded the gate against errant calves. At the end of our turn, we had a time of 82 seconds. Turns out that is really good for a newbie!
As we progressed through the night, the other riders were pretty impressed with our blonde boy! They encouraged us to go faster and faster and at one point we had a time of 42 seconds. That is almost as fast as the "pros" when they have the jackpot night where they sort for cash. Go TWH!! I know there were a few people really impressed as well that I did it in a dressage/english saddle, the only english saddle there. Also am pretty certain I was the only fat snaffled horse there, most had a thin or twisted snaffle bit, just another feather in our cap!
Overall the night went really well. While the TWH never "got" the idea of chasing the calves and would instead almost run them over as if they didn't exist, he did everything I asked of him and didn't give me any issues at all. I am very proud and impressed with him, who would have thought that cows wouldn't have phased him. Certainly not me!!
*****Who wants a video of it??? I do!****