|Dreamy is ready to go!|
A friend of mine, Angie, came along at the last minute with her horse Smoke. There was a cancellation opening in the clinic and she jumped at the chance to try her horse on cows. I also loved having someone to share the day with, as Angie and I get along well.
It was a three hour drive up to the farm where they hold the CMPTA events, which was the only downfall to the entire day. That is a long ride! :-( We left at 5AM to be there and ready for the 8:30AM registration. We had to be tacked, warmed up, and ready to go by 9:30. Everyone we met was very friendly and I knew immediately the day would be laid back and fun. It was nothing like the dressage clinics I have attended, yet I feel like I learned a ton just the same. No one cared what your horse was or what your experience was. It was all about having fun and learning new things.
The morning session was great. Both Bruce and Morgan explained things well, especially for someone like me who literally had NO IDEA what was going on.
The professional photos are from the morning session. Those photos are here. Dreamy is the black horse and I am wearing a red jacket (and am one of the few riders wearing a helmet...!!!) For some help, this is the first one of us in the album. We are all the way to the left. Go ahead and take a look.....then come back here if you'd like! :-)
Warming up was interesting. We had to go by the cows on the short side of the ring. Dreamy was pretty sure they were COWS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION and she twisted her body in a pretzel every time we had to go by them. The farm is a working beef farm, so there was lots to see and be spook about. The only thing that bothered her was the cows. Whoops....not a good omen for a team penning clinic. I just prayed we wouldn't look like complete idiots. I reminded myself that I didn't have to try it again if it totally failed; just giving it a shot was enough for me.
Once the clinic started, we began by practicing rollbacks and sidepasses, which to Dreamy is really just turns on the haunches and leg yields. Yeah, Mom, I 've got this. She was happy to do something she was comfortable with, and I put her at the very other side of the large ring so we were no where near the COWS OF DEATH. There were 20 horses in the clinic, so we had a huge buffer zone and Dreamy was her agreeable self.
As we were happily doing our dressage movements disguised as western maneuvers, I overheard Bruce shout for three cows to be "let in". I figured there was no way he meant let into the ring, but sure enough, suddenly there were three huge steers bouncing around the ring. I almost had a heart attack. I seriously raised my hand. "Um, Bruce, my horse has never seen cows. I think we need to leave the ring." Thankfully we were just next to the gate and I was just about ready to swing off her back.
"No, no, she'll be fine. We will introduce her to them right now."
AHHHHH!!! I tried not to
Dreamy obviously figured out the cows were in the ring, but I just let her look at them and tried to stay far enough away to not incite any spins, rears, bucks, or other excitement that might unseat me. I was happy when Bruce asked how many people needed to introduce their horse to cows and six others besides me raised their hands. Oh, OK, so I won't be the only one whose horse wants to run to the next county.
We did something that really made a lot of sense. We put the "green to cow" horses in the middle of the pack and sort of lined up around the ring. We started to walk around the rail, pushing the cows along ahead of us. The point was to move the green horses up to the front so they could see that they could push the cows and the cows would run away from them. It did not take Dreamy much longer than two seconds to catch sight of this. She immediately locked onto the cows moving along up ahead of the group and power walked her way to the front. I got up with Morgan and Bruce fairly quickly. Bruce encouraged me to let her keep walking along. Suddenly, she broke into a trot on her own accord. Just as I was about to ask her for a walk, Bruce said, "Let her go!" So I allowed her to move forward, but it did not take much encouragement. Dreamy snaked her head down, locked onto a cow, and wanted to chase! I seriously could not believe it!!! I was all smiles and laughed. Bruce yelled something like, "This is going to be fun!!!!" I put Dreamy back into the middle of the pack so the other green horses could have a turn. But she was having no part of it. She wanted to GET THE COWS. LOL! It was awesome. I mean, she was polite and listened to me of course, but she was pretty sure this was the best game ever. Dreamy is a bully by nature and really does not get along with other horses. So the opportunity to CHASE things, PUSH them around, and then be REWARDED for it was just fantastic to her. I truly think that her innate personality helped her be such a good "cow horse". Forget dressage, this horse wants to chase cows! LOL!
|Here we are listening to the clinicians while the cows are moving around. We had just introduced the green horses. Notice how every other horse is just chilling, but Dreamy is LOCKED ON the cow. She is right in the center of the photo! LOL!!!!!!!|
|Listening and watching others work the herd down at the far right. |
We are the black horse/red jacket. My friend Angie is on Smoke (gray mare)
just to the right of us.
Eventually, we moved on to the entire herd of thirty. In penning, you are given a number as you ride into the ring and those are the cows you need to cut and pen. The herd is numbered 0-9, so there are three "zero" cows, three "one" cows, and so on. Once we had practiced cutting out three at a time, they put the pen up at the other end and showed us how to pen them. At that point, we all left the ring and just the three penners entered at a time, like a real competition would be. It was pretty cool and Dreamy and I got to go in quite a few times.
|Working with Angie and Smoke to keep the "trash cows" (numbers we don't want) to stay back so Angie can move the cow we want down to the other end.|
|Here Dreamy and I are working in the "hole" to make sure no cows escape up the side of the pen. Morgan the clinician looks on.|
|Waiting as a "turnback" while Angie and Smoke work the herd.|
|Bruce the clinician was the "sweep" here to put the cows in the pen, while I worked as "wing" to be sure none escaped. I am not sure why he was pointing at me, but there is a big smile on my face, so I suspect he was praising me for something.|
|I wish you could see the cow just outside the frame. Love her expression. GET THE COW!|
|Move it, number nine!|
|Working the herd|
|To go from afraid of cows to entering a herd of thirty in just a few hours was pretty freaking awesome!!|
|LOVE THIS! Her expression is just priceless!|
|Whoops, a cow got too close....|
|About to enter the herd...|
|Our faces match! LOL!!! We are chasing a cow just outside the frame... Big loop in the rein so you can see she is just a BEAST about chasing these cows!|
|Miss Dressage Diva plays cow pony. So much fun!|
And here is a video!
Team Penning Clinic 5.12.12 from Elizabeth Tewksbury on Vimeo.