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Sunday, January 10, 2010

My very first cow

Let’s review the advice I got from y’all when I posted yesterday about an upcoming cattle experience.


When the cow charges you, before you dissolve into a fearful pool of jelly, slip your foot out of the stirrup to kick the cow in the face”.


“Remember – Arabs aren’t good at this”


Thanks everyone.


So what I discovered is that I had been thinking of little cows all wrong.  They are not the evil cousins of dairy cows, nor obstacles on the trail, or malicious little beasts waiting to ambush you when you least expect it.  No, they are play things.  Toys.  Hehehehehe. 


The morning was spent doing equitation, which is (apparently) part of the whole reined horse experience.  It also served to let the trainer check out the riding level of everyone AND give everyone saddle time without wearing down his cows.  So I gave a big sigh, apologized to Farley (I had promised that today we would do something new and different), and worked on circles.


I tried to keep an open mind, while also trying to mitigate any confusion to Farley as she went from being a dressage horse to a little cow pony.  While dressage may value straightness over all else, a cow pony is valued for its ability to follow its nose and not be “babysat” during the pattern.  I muddled through it with a smile on my face and showed the rest of the class that even though I was in an English saddle I am perfectly capable of riding on a loose, draped rein at the canter (or lope or whatever).


After lunch I, as a cattle newbie, had to prove my horse and myself with a group of weanling calves before being given my very own cow…..5 or 6 little cute calves were let into the pen to wander around.  Farley got right in there with them and pushed them around.  She was interested and alert, but never spooked.  Mmmmm…..this was going better than I thought.  Shortly I got the call to go out of the pen, signaling I had graduated.


I was the first to go.  My half grown cow was let in and off we went.  I pointed Farley at the cow and Farley pinned her ears and locked in.  Off we went at a canter and gallop, round and round. I checked her a few times to keep her in the right position – she bucked, but then seemed to get the idea and I didn’t have to ask her to keep the position again.  She blew through the stop 2-3 times, but some of it was my fault – my weight too far forward – and again, once she figured out that she stopped when the cow stopped, there wasn’t any more problems.


Soon it was time to turn the cow, then stop it.  We faced the stopped cow.  I pushed a bit and the cow sprinted for the side.  Farley leaped into a canter to match the cow.  The cow turned and Farley sat down on her butt and spun to match.  We did it again in the other direction.  My mind was in shock – we were actually leaping around and spinning like a “real” cow horse.  My skinny butt arab was giving that cow what for and completely dominating.


I got a “fantastic” and “perfect” from the trainer and then it was my turn to watch my partner work a cow.  I was shocked that Farley was as “cowy” as she was but I think the trainer was shocked that through all that darting, cutting, and spinning I had kept my seat and stayed perfectly centered….in an English saddle. 


I’m going to get smug here for a sec. I’m allowed to be smug about my seat because goodness knows I’ve had to work like hell to achieve every other little thing about riding!  It’s the only thing that came naturally.  I chalk it up to my extensive teenage bareback riding and the fact I have constantly ridden since then – I haven’t taken a break like so many adults who then have to rediscover their balance and seat on the horse.  It takes a LOT to unseat me off a horse and it hasn’t happened in a very long time, even though I ride a multitude of horses.  Minx was the only one who knew just what spin, pivot, dropped shoulder combo worked. 


I was impressed that Farley had been able to work that cow, but here the real test was still coming.  I stood in the middle of the pen, while my partner worked the cow around me.  Farley never even flinched or tried to spin around as the cow ran around and even cut across right next to her.  Perfectly calm and focused.


What does it take to make this horse come unglued?  So far I’ve only had one bunny rabbit from hell incident – when I tried to trot past a bike still in motion.  I’ve done sword work, close contact sword melees etc. and she does it like she’s done it her entire life.  I think it’s high time to try pistol fire from the saddle and plunk her in a reenactment battle to see what she’s made of.  She’s a born cavalry horse if I’ve ever seen one.  Obviously any fear or uncertainty of what this horse is capable of is, in my mind, not hers.


The trainer at the end of the day said that Farley and I “fit each other to the ‘T’”.  I’m still trying to decide whether it was a compliment or a comment…..After all, for the most part we are both mostly untrained and opinionated which I am sure is not at all a compliment!


So does any one have any little toys (calves) for me to play with?  Pretty please?  I would be ever so grateful!


  1. I'm glad you had a good time! It's nice to hear a shout-out for bareback riding and what it does for your seat - a lot of people gloss over that, but I think it's an important training aspect.

    I'm so very jealous that you got to do this, so I hope you enjoyed it enough for both of us.

  2. Congrats! That sounds like such fun, and I know you're proud of her!

  3. GO FARLEY!!! Glad you two did so well, and had so much fun with it!! And YESS!!!! We want to see pics of mounted shooting and battles with her!

    You go girl!

  4. That is so cool!!!!! I am glad you had fun and that she was such a good girl!

  5. Souns like so much fun! I'm glad you had a good time playing with your cow toys (like cowBOYs only...more fun...)

    Now that you mention it, I realize that although I recall some "I fell off Minx" posts, we haven't gotten one of those about Farley yet. Yay!! I'm sure she's just biding her time >:D

  6. Dad wonders if maybe Farley did some cowhorse work in her other life.

  7. Not that I or the breeder is aware of. The 2 years or so between when the breeder sold her and I bought her were spent preganant and nursing, and then at the horse traders (he didn't do cattle work), so it's unlikely. She did spend some time at the fairgrounds with the breeders other racehorses, so she's probably seen cows before.

    Anything is possible though.

  8. Maybe she was stabled next to a horse who had worked with cows and was given pointers ;P

    btw...I'd like the food processor...and I'm extra sure I should get it b/c I'm asking for it on your blog ;P

  9. OK redgirl - you get the fancy blender/processer thingy. It's really cool and I even still have the originial box. I LOVE it very very much. I mostly use it to chop onions, olives, garlic etc. Mom and dad always give the greatest presents!

    That's what Loreleigh gets for turning her phone off! I'll bring it to the annual meeting (along with your cute little rabbit).

    I'll bring any books etc I borrowed from you too.

  10. Hi, new reader here! :) Just had to comment, since I also have an Arab and have worked cattle with her... they are great cow horses! Your stories about Farley remind me so much of me and my mare.

  11. Welcome Breanna - thanks for stopping by!

    There's a cattle sorting every other Friday a few miles down the street from where I board. $25 for 4 runs. I'm thinking about doing it every once awhile, I had so much fun. New and different is good.

  12. yay!!! mixer AND rabbit :)

    plus, I have a series i think you might like ... if you have time to read right now?

  13. Don't forget that some cows are evil! :-) We had an episode where my partner broke a rib because he was trying to get an Evil Cow out of our olive grove...

  14. Wow! That sounds so cool! I've always wondered about my horse doing that- I might give it a try.

    Farley sounds like a natural! And with an English saddle- can't tell you the number of times I've gotten grief from my cowboy friends about riding English. :-)


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