I spent the night psyching myself out. After out last attempt to ride out of our comfort zone did I really want to try it? What if he spooked? What if he ran away with me? What if I undid all the careful training I’ve put into him? The what ifs were driving me crazy.
But it was too late to back out. Well maybe not too late but the arrangements had been made, Tanna was coming over and I had told my husband we would do it. That makes it nearly set in stone. The calves were nearly done calving, over the last week there had only been three calves born that needed to go out. I had originally thought we could put them out and then ride Rusty. Somewhere along the line I decided that I could ride Rusty to put them out. A simple easy little ride. Introduce him to cattle with trusty old Coyote to show the way.
What had I been thinking?
The day dawned sunny and still. Tanna arrived early and my husband took the kids. I girded my loins and saddled my horse. Tanna is very patient with me. She walked Coyote around in our little pen while I rode Rusty around with him, waiting for me to get comfortable. Then we went after the pairs.
I walked. There was one cow in the lane, her calf was sleeping in a little triangle of fence. I led Rusty in and he went after the calf like a dog after a piece of meat. I thought he should be spooking and cowering at it bouncing off the fences and his legs, he thought maybe he should eat it. I remembered then that the father-in-law said he had seen Rusty with a calf the other day. It had slipped through the fence and was laying in the feed bunk on the horses side of the pen. Rusty reached over and picked the calf up by the scruff of its neck. I guess the calf was alright if limping a little when he finally let it go.
I kept walking and letting Rusty check things out as we pushed the pair out the gate. He was very interested in the goings on. Then, finally, I got on. Rusty was overly energetic and excited about what we were up to. But he stayed controllable and calm, overall. Tanna sat back and offered support while she let us try to do the work. Rusty wanted to lunge and pursue them at a trot, I held him back attempting to convince him to walk. What ever the speed he happily followed the cow and calf out the gate. After he succeeded in clearing the corral of cows we headed for the cornstalks to check our heifer.
I stopped for a refill on cookies, then walked through the narrow twisting maze of fences that led to the corn field. This walking is not to be ashamed of. Preventing problems is not the same as walking as a result of them. Once out in the open I remounted and he was off like a shot. Or maybe a trot. I let him go, Coyote plodding behind. Even at a walk he was zipping along in typical Morgan fashion. We made it clear out across the field, saw that the heifer was not in the process off calving yet and started back. We had been on the horses a long time. Large portions of that time were spent in abject fear, quite exhausting, and my helmet was hurting my forehead. I was ready to get off.
We still had to make it back to the house though. Rusty was starting to act up. Not bad, but he was getting tired too. He fell out to the side with his shoulder. He was scared of the cows in our path. Coyote plodded reassuringly along. I was going to try to ride back through the maze of fence into the corral but cows were coming out and while I could handle one or the other both combined were more than I could handle. I walked the rest of the way. It was good to be off and good to be home. It was a great ride and a great day.
- Gate Work
- A New Bit