Although we’ve been pretty eventing focused around here lately, we still like doing lots of different things with our horses. On Saturday we hauled the ponies out for some cattle sorting. I had fun last time we tried cattle sorting even though Nilla hated it. I’ve been looking forward to trying it with Levi since he likes cattle work and we figured Eugene would probably like it too. This was a practice sorting and you got 6 goes and lunch for $35 bucks. Pretty sweet deal!
We started out by getting them warmed up in another arena and letting Eugene just stand and watch the cattle because he was losing his mind a bit. The lighting in the picture is terrible, but I think Eugene is adorable. He was sticking his head over the wall to watch the cattle.
For anyone who doesn’t know how cattle sorting works, here’s a rough explanation. There are two rounds pens attached with an opening between the two and 10 cows numbered 0 through 9 on one side. Two riders enter the arena and are given a random number. The goal is to move all the cows from one side to the other in order starting with the assigned cow. If a cow goes across in the wrong order, you’re out. If you get all of them across, the fastest team wins.
The cattle at this sorting were really frisky. Even the people who knew what they were doing and regular compete in sorting were having a rough time. The cattle were racing through the opening at any chance they got so it was really hard to get just the one you needed.
Once Eugene had calmed down a bit it was time to take a try. We forgot to turn on our helmet cams for the first 2 attempts, but they went pretty badly. But we got to run out our time even if the cattle went across in the wrong order, so we kept practicing. On our third try, we finally remembered to turn the helmet cams on. I got our first cattle (#6) across right away and then it took me a while to cut #7 out of the pack.
Levi likes going after cattle – he even reached out and bit one when it didn’t move fast enough – but he gets annoyed with all the stop and go. I think the conflicting aids piss him off. Like I ask him to go, then stop, then go and he’s just like pick one dammit. Anyway, we had a little rodeo about that while trying to get #7:
If you watch the little video here, you can hear my comment “that’s not what we’re doing.” And he just stops and pricks his ears and goes back to getting the cow.
This ranch was huge (they probably had space for at least 100 temporary horses and trailers for an event) and they were running two pens so we got to go back and forth between the two for a change of environment. It was nice to be in the indoor because it was pretty hot out, but the light was a lot better outside. They also swapped out the cattle with new ones a few times while we were there. But none of the herds were sluggish and it remained difficult to get them sorted in the right order. Usually they’d get all out of order and we’d just pick one from what was left and sort that one. Like so:
We found that Levi preferred to sort and Eugene preferred to stay in the hole, which would work out well if we were planning on doing this regularly. We did switch it up regularly and Eugene got more into it by the end.
While I fully admit that we’re not good at this, we have done it before – both on our own horses and at a ranch on vacation – and the cattle have never been this active. Normally they’re lazy and just hang out until you go after them. At this sorting, they were racing all over the place. We watched a bunch of rounds with really good teams of riders who couldn’t manage them either. Before going, I thought 6 tries seemed like a lot, but they went by fast and it was not easy so the extra practice was appreciated.
In fact, we only saw one pair get all of the cows across in order under time the whole time we were there. I didn’t take any pictures (because I don’t believe in putting pictures of other people’s kids online), but there was an adorable little girl doing sorting with her mom. She had to be like 4 years old and was in a special western saddle with a little backrest and seatbelt to keep her on. But she picked each cow out, pointed her mare at it, cut them one by one and beat the clock. It was really fun to watch.
We finished up all of our rounds before lunch and then took the ponies back to the trailer to get untacked and relax while we had lunch. Lunch was catered BBQ and it was pretty good. My husband had ribs and tri-tip while i had chicken. Gotta say it again: 6 rounds and lunch for $35 is a steal. I only wish this place were closer or I’d go more often.
I hope everyone else had a good weekend. Don’t forget to get your entries in for the Easter contest because it closes on the 4th.