Run Fever

By Patty Wilber

I took Penny and Risa to a ranch sorting in the fall.  Penny had a really good day, but unbeknownst to me, it was too much pressure.  The next time I went to work cows, she wanted to charge them, bite them, buck, and flip her head about in a most unpleasant way.

My friend, Trainer Mark, who knows way more about cows and horses on cows than I may ever know, gave me a a working plan:  Make cow work boring and ordinary.

Mark has cows, so I went there and pushed his around with Penny and T.  I got tips.

Diamond’s Mom has cows. I moved hers.

Cowboss has cows.  I went there to herd cows acoss the 1200 acres and work them out of the pens:  Put the cows in the pen (31 of them), pick one off the edge of the group and follow it out.  Once Penny got quiet with that, I let her trot a step or two and even had her step up to stopping and turning the cows–all very slow.

Pushing cows out of the pen is just what the sortings are–with the additonal bit of having to do it in correct numerical order.

Saturday was the sorting finals.  Last Friday there was sorting practice. Free cows!  I took Penny and T and worked hard at keeping things very quiet. 

 I was especially pleased with T because his over all travel log book has fairly few entries.

Ready for Saturday.

One of the cool things about the sortings is being able to tie the horses to the inside of the arena so they are IN the excitement.  This was especially great for Risa because many things look pretty shocking to her.  “People!  People i have never met!  Walking toward me! They are… everywhere…!  AHHHH!”

Long day for her, but many good learning moments.

T, however, decided to have a case of Barn Buddy Disease.  For him, I think we would have been better off tying  to the trailer and having him leave everyone behind out of sight, out of mind., when he needed to go to work.

But no.  As soon as I rode him away, he cried, he pawed, he could not stand still and he could not focus. “My girls!  i see them! i must not leave them unattended!”


At home, his pen is NOT within touching distance of the girls.  However, when horses are trailered together, and also put into a new situation, they do buddy up. 

I put him in two go’s of the sorting, and on the first go, he was worried:  Cows! Tarps!  My girls! .  Each run is only a about a minute, so not much time to regroup. We just took it easy.

Second go: much more focussed.  Two cows penned.  Good enough. Back to the girls!

Penny was the calmest thing all day.  She managed two cows with a nice slow go for her first run.  In her second try, I upped the energy some and she felt good.  Three cows, and a fourth just after the timer. 

 Goal accomlished.  Two nice go’s. Relaxed horse.

But boy that was fun!  (Got a little case of Run Fever–maybe just One More Run…?)

Rational Side talked me out of it.

I was hanging around chatting, when I should have been loading up and going. 

Mr. Super Sorter rode up.  He’d been watching me ride.  He was really impressed.  He wanted me to ride with him in the next class, which was a higher level. With just a little coaching, why, we could clear the pen (all ten cows in one minute).

Rational Side said, “No”, but Ego was jumping up and down, “Yes yes yes”. 

Mr. SS and I had the second to last go. We needed eight cows out to make the finals.  To get eight you have to move.

He took the first cow.  I got the second. He got the third.  I went for the fourth. 

Penny blew a gasket.

She reared.  I spurred her.  She bucked me right out of the saddle and over the horn.  Oops. That is a BAD place to be. 

She reared again, really high.  Hmm.  Also not good, but it got me off the horn and back in the seat.  SS got the fourth cow.  Penny got all her feet on the ground, so I went for cow five.  He got six, I got seven, he got eight and our time was up. 

We made the finals!

We had to do another go.  Penny was pretty hot.  I was a little over-wrought myself and in my haste, shoved 4 cows out the gate at once…

Mr. SS was disgusted. Ego was deflated. Rational Side said “Hmmpff.”  We were DQ’d.

The next day, the wind was blowing 40 mph with gusts to 70 and it was snowing. I hauled T and Penny to cows and I rode in them both in the  herd.  “Conditions were horrible,” says Rational Side.  (Ego is hiding right now).  But, Penny especially needed to see Boring Cows with No Pressure, and despite the wind, rode well! 

Missi0n (re) accomplished.

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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4 Responses to Run Fever

  1. Doranna says:

    Oh, Gawd, you had a LEARNING EXPERIENCE. ;>

    Sounds like you had fun, too!

    (SS had some unreasonable expectations, I think. You put a (cow) green horse in that situation, you takes what you gets.)

  2. Patty says:

    Yeah–gotta hate it when things fall apart due to one’s own doing–especially when I knew better!

  3. Jackie Splinter says:

    I’m sitting in a McDonalds in Versailles, MO. We’re down art our “farm” for the week…no internet, so this is it! I am laughing outloud at your adventure and people are looking at me. Oh well…they would be laughing outloud too! Thanks for a good reading treat….it was FUN!!!! Hugs, Jackie

  4. Patty says:

    Thanks Jackie!

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