Dusty the Cow Horse?

By Patty Wilber

I have a soft spot for Tennessee Walkers because I leased several from a lady who rescued them when I was in high school. I ended up getting to ride a gob of them.

At Rainbow Ranch. 

Mardigras, a  Tennessee Walker, me and my cousin Amy, in 1977 or so

Mardigras, a Tennessee Walker, me and my cousin, Amy, in 1977 or so.

So, when I got the chance to work with Dusty, it was like old (37 years ago old) times!

Dusty came here at two to get started and he’s back at five for a tune-up.  One thing he needed was a little face-time with cows.

Dusty’s day job is to be a trail horse not a cow horse, but every so often,  out on the summer range in the high country, there are cattle. Dusty’s first exposure was not so much of a success.

Last weekend, we went to the Red Cliff Ranch to move cattle and sort the young steers for sale.  Jim took Cometa and I took LT to get the job done.

LT did the job!

LT did the job.

Thanks to Jim for getting these pics of us! The cows are in the background.

The ever steady Cometa!

I debated and waffled and hemmed and hawed about who to take for additional experience. I finally settled on Dusty.

On Friday evening, after we’d brought the pairs up, I took Coulson (the dog) and Dusty to the 40 acre holding pasture.  The cows and calves (about 200 animals) had spread out over the area, so it seemed like a pretty easy task to walk the perimeter, check on the six bulls in the next pasture and come on back.

It was getting on towards dusk. Horses never do Scary well when the shadows are elongating.

Coulson, of cattle dog breeding, somehow seems to have failed to have inherited any herding instinct.   (Which frankly, who cares?  Just look at that face!)



There I was, with cattle all over and a chicken dog and a chicken horse!  The dog was hiding in the brush and the horse was trying to avoid getting closer than 50 yards to any bovine.

This piqued the interest of the cows, who began to wander toward us.  That did not make the dog or the horse particularly happy.

After I failed to convince Dusty that cattle are generally pushovers if you just take charge, and the cows kept stepping our way, I got off and took point.  “well,” he said, “if u go first, i guess i can come along.”

“me, too!” said Coulson.

Oh brother.

But, we did make it past the first group, and I got back on. Neither horse nor dog was particularly infused with confidence by my selfless act of walking, so I had to wheedle and plead, reassure and prod (spurs) until eventually Dusty got moving along.  Coulson followed–hey at least the dog doesn’t wander off…

I don’t think I made a lot of progress on “the cows are all right” program.


Saturday morning:

Dusty wondering why he has to wait while we get the cattle up from that pasture.

Dusty: i think i hear cows!


Plan A.  Tie Dusty to the fence with all the other horses.

Other horses thing this is a great time to take a nap.

Other horses think this is a great time to hang out. Dusty (not in this picture) does not take a clue from the herd of ho-hummers on all sides and is convinced the fence will fall down at any moment and the cattle will trample him.

Plan B.  Tie him to that tree behind LT’s head.  It’s farther away…and Dusty’d still be close enough to the other horses that maybe he’d relax.

sales red cliff nov 14 165

 Or not.  Plus my saddle was at risk from a branch on that pinon.

Plan C.  Jim could hold him. That worked, but only so long as Jim kept holding him, and we did have some work to do.

Dusty: i like jim. he is very calming.

Plan D. Tie Dusty farther away.  He’d have to be alone, but the cows would not be so much of a threat.

Dusty: lots of mooing going on over there!

Plan D was a success until we had to use the pen in front of Dusty.   Since it had a been a few hours, I moved him back next to Cometa and this time Dusty could pretty much handle it.

that's a lot of cows.  just sayin'.

that’s a lot of cows. just sayin’.

After the steers were shipped, I took Dusty elk scouting (no luck).  I figured he’d had enough of cows for one day.

 But, we’re heading down to Troy’s for arena cattle work today with LT and Lacey.  Dusty gets to come along for the ride, so we will see how much stuck!



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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1 Response to Dusty the Cow Horse?

  1. EMoonTX says:

    The more exposures, the less panic. Unless said equine is a very determined panicker.

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