Round up!

Chance and I attended our first cattle round up yesterday! There were about a dozen riders to bring in maybe 80-90 cows and calves, but enough of us were newbies that we really did actually need that many. Chance was pretty darn good considering this was only his second time out with cows. He did jump straight up in the air at one point, and then when half the herd broke away and headed for us, he moved us out of the way quickly and with much spunk (he clearly didn’t understand that he was supposed to hold the line and turn the cows back, but oh well).  For the most part he was under control, though, and we did get to push the cows forward from the rear a little bit, although we were not the closest horse/rider.  I guess I’d say we kept a safe distance and weren’t much help, but it was a great experience nonetheless. We brought the whole herd in, then Chance had to stand tied while the cows and calves were separated by hand, and then we help drive the calves back out to a new pasture. After that, we tucked Chance and his friend Whiley in a pen in the dead center of all the action! There is a squeeze in the middle of a bunch of pens, and we put the horses in the middle in a pen that had the cattle lane on two sides and the shoot/squeeze setup on the other two sides, so every cow to be checked circled them completely, and there was much activity and noise. Talk about a great desensitizing experience! Chance looked around and reached over the fence toward passing cows a few times, but for the most part he was just really calm. I love this horse! He is SOOO good for his age and experience level! Here are the pictures:

Getting direction and assignments before heading for the cows. You can see some of them on the far hill, and they were already mooing away and milling around a bit, but note Chance’s ears – he’s listening, but he’s standing quietly enough that I was able to take pictures.

Here we go!

Our job was to keep the cows from heading out into the middle of the pasture while those horses way ahead of us got up behind them and pushed them down the fence line. I chose this job mostly for the distance between us the cows, although at this point I’m not sure Chance had realized they were on our side of the fence.

We maintained a safe enough distance that it was actually a little difficult to get pictures with both us and cows in the frame.

Chance sure was focused on the job at hand (or the job others were doing halfway across the field, whichever way you want to look at it)

The herd is on the move now!

The second-hardest part was getting the cows to cross the dry creek bed

This bunch didn’t want to go

These next pictures kinda make it look like we moved in to help, although I sure don’t remember that!

They’re all across the creek bed! 20-20 hindsight tells me we should have moved up and held our line instead of pausing for a photo op here, but look how beautiful and relaxed my boy is!

Alright, we’re back on the job now.

Wait a minute here… they are stopping and some are turning around!

After all the chaos, about half the herd ran by us (well, I should say they ran through the hole left when Chance decided to get the heck out of the way!

Here we come for round 2

We got an easier job this time – just get behind them and keep them moving down the fence line.

This little guy did not want to go!

We brought up the rear.

We got them safely back across the creek bed and turned them over to the more experienced riders to get them into the pen.

Almost all in

Time to start sorting mama cows from their calves. This was done by hand on foot by some very brave women!

 

Finally all the cows and calves were separated, and it was time to herd the calves back out to a new pasture.

This part was easier – Chance had settled down quite a bit, and of course the cows were happy to be going away from the barn!

Finally it was time for the cows’ preg checks. Chance and Whiley were tucked away in the dead center of all the action – each and every cow had to move in a big circle around their pen, and there were gates opening and closing, cows rattling around in metal shoots, squeezes clanging, lots of metal and mooing and shouting. Chance isn’t sure where in the world he is all the sudden! Whiley doesn’t care where she is because there’s a little something to nibble. She’s the perfect companion for Chance on these outings because she is so laid back.

Now I think he’s reaching over the fence to sniff a passing cow

Surrounded by a sea of cows

The action is all on this side

The action isn’t so exciting – time for a snack

I was running the gates to let the pregnant cows back out to the pasture, so I got pretty busy at this point and had to put the camera away. What a great experience for my boy and a fun time for everyone except the cows!

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