It. Was. Amazing.
I had a spectacular time riding with Dave Ellis for four days of cow working! The first two days were spent preparing for the last two days. We did lots of really cool simulations to get our horses ready for the cows. Most of the exercises helped free up their shoulders .. we did LOTS of rollbacks, transitions and backing. Some of the simulations we’d act as either the “cow” or “cowboy” and it all came together once we worked the real cows.
At the end of day 2 we were able to follow the cows around the field. Charm wanted nothing to do with the cows so I wasn’t quite sure how it would go. As we got closer and they started to move away, she gained confidence and actually got within 15 feet. That was a great start!
When day 3 came we gathered the cows and made rodear to hold them. It’s like a horse fence.
At first Dave had us go in quietly one at a time so our horses would get accustom to the cows. Then he had us sort a cow. We were to pick one, get it all by itself.. once it was standing still, we’d shoot the cow and the game was over. By “shooting” the cow, our horse would feel our energy go down and know it was time to quit working. Then we got to the point where we’d sort a cow, let it out of the rodear, follow it a little and then let it back in. After that, we’d sort a cow, let it out of the rodear, drive it around the edge of the rodear while there was an outrider on the far edge keeping the cow from going out into the field. The object of this exercise was to get the cow all the way around and back in where it came out. So, if you were on the rodear, you had to stop the cow from coming back in by positioning your horse as the cow ran past. It was SO fun! And really started to flow once everyone got the hang of it. Charm was still nervous of the cows, but became pretty confident if there was just one cow.
I really had a good time on the third day. We had focused on Ranch Work that day and Dave wanted us to do everything California style.. so a little more classy than Texas 😉
The fourth day we focused on competition. We started with team penning. We broke up into teams and had to drive our cows over to some panels shaped like a U facing away from us. The goal was to get the cow to go into the U. Some of the cows were more tame than the others.. so at some points we were cantering all over the field chasing after a fast cow.. and other times we drove a slower cow with ease.
In the afternoon we played around with another game called Campdrafting. It’s a popular competition in Australia. The goal is to drive your cow around three poles in sorta a barrel racing pattern. As the riders held the herd in a half rodear on the fence, one cow was cut out. There were also three people doing this. The middle person was in charge of driving the cow forward, while the other two people were the outriders and were telling the cow were to go. It was very difficult!! Unless you had the slow cow I named Bubba.. he just took his time and we actually finished the task rather quickly. The first time my team had a really energetic cow that caused us to run all over the field after it!
I had a great time and each day I could feel Charm getting more and more confident. I learned so much and would love to do this again!
And I can’t forget my wonderful husband who stayed home with Wyatt while I was at the clinic. Thanks Adam!