Hi all, I am hoping you all had a great weekend like I did! My family and horse family went to a fall gathering with my ranch horse club in Springville, Indiana.
It was a short 1 1/2 hour trip for us for a change. The gathering was held at the Bar P ranch, a lovely ranch consisting of about 400 acres and owned by two lovely older folks Charlie and Esther Parton. This was the second year for the gathering, I missed last year because I was at the Quarter Horse Congress shopping! The weather was beautiful, sunny and high in the 60's. The gathering was lightly attended and that was sort of a bummer, but on the other hand it gave me lots of opportunity to play in the cattle! Let me give you a run down on the weekend:
Friday: Finish packing horse trailer with all the gear and goodies. Best Friend in the world Susan arrives with daughter Eliza. We have fabulous dinner prepared by my hubby as pack of now 3 children proceed to make as much noise as possible. We reminisce over mojitos (my new drink of choice).
Saturday: After another yummy meal made by hubby and gathering up the kids and dogs (Susan brought her two plus my jack russell) we loaded Harley and Tank and we were on our way at 9 am. The trip was lovely through the rolling hills with the fall colors at mid peak. We found the ranch without problem and quickly got the horses tucked into their stalls while we set up camp. Everyone was heading out to gather cattle, we didn't make that trip as the kiddos were growing hungry by then. Esther has a little restaurant there on the ranch and folks come from miles around to eat her homemade yummies! After lunch we saddled up the horses and Harley gave me the best buck of his life, made me ride the horn and all. I was expecting it as I have been slacking on the riding lately. The footing was deep and it did not take long for him to settle down and get working nice. We brought around 15 head into the indoor arena and took turns cutting them. Harley was not as timid this time when entering the herd, helps that these were normal sized cattle. My BF Susan was kind enough to take some pictures of us working cows. Here is a shot of us.
Harley did really well on these cows, they were slow and gentle which gave me time to properly make the maneuvers without getting in a hurry. Fellow club member Sheila was very helpful in coaching me through the runs and had some great exercises for me to work on at home with Harley.
I love this next picture, he is so intent on watching the cow that you cannot see in front of him.
Before we knew it the dinner bell was ringing, I love that Esther has the old iron triangle and she rings it when dinner is served. We all cleaned up and went in for a wonderful dinner of meatloaf, homemade chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls. Ugh, I think I gained 10lbs this weekend! After dinner we saddled up and rode out into the pasture to map out the ranch horse challenge course. It was my "baby" sorta like the extreme cowboy race, just not so extreme. The property was just perfect for this sort of competition. I found exactly what I needed just behind the barn and that way everyone could watch the riders compete. We rode until dusk and then we all made a campfire and had marsh mellows with the kiddos and just socialized and talked horse. It got cold and we all headed off to bed.
Sunday: I awoke to a very cold morning with frost and ice on everything. It was 30 degrees!!! Egads! not how I like waking up. Not to fear Esther had a nice hot breakfast of Biscuits and Gravy, eggs and bacon ready for us by 8. We bundled up and saddled the horses and rode out to gather the cattle again. What a morning! I wish I had remembered my camera, the property was stunning. The trees were in full color and it was a wonderful mix of woods and grass hills for pasture. We saw coyotes and deer besides the little cows we were hunting. We split into two groups and prepared to bring in the fuzzy critters. We managed to gather around 30 head and started driving them back to the barn. I tell you it is harder than it sounds! Those cows know that land much better than me and they were crafty little fellas. We drove them down a creek bed and I could not get in front of them to stop them. I told my riding partners that I would go out and around to try to get in front of them to turn them back. Harley was a gem, left the other horses without hesitation and rode thru some pretty gnarly brush and briar's to get to these cows. We got them turned and I tell ya, I felt mighty proud of the little horse driving 30 head by himself.
When I looked up I saw my fellow riders loping back to the barn! What the????
My heart sank, I just knew these cows would go right back to the pasture we originally drove them from. When I looked that direction thank goodness I saw the other group of riders coming down the hill with 15 head. I yelled at the top of my lungs that I was coming out with 30 head. Sheila yelled back that she heard me but could not see me. Well duh, Harley is so small and we were down in a creek bed.
We managed to merge herds and drive them into the barnyard without hassle. I unsaddled Harley and it was time to set up the ranch challenge course.
I had seven obstacles that were spread out in the back pasture. This is a description of the course. First the riders had to open and go in the pasture and close the gate while mounted. Second they had to negotiate a water crossing (the creek came in handy). Third they had to go to an area I had four cones set up, park their horse in the middle, dismount and ground tie the horse, walk a circle around the horse.
Fourth they had to ride to a mailbox, open it and retrieve the mail ride straight up a hill and hand the mail to my assistant Cassidy. Fifth they had to run down the said hill and get handed a rope with a log attached to it, they had to drag the log around a small group of trees and drop the rope at starting point. Sixth they crossed a wooden bridge. Seventh they entered a round pen with 5 head and had to sort one cow and drive it up an alley.
The rules were simple to make it fun. They were judged on time and horsemanship skills. They had one minute to complete each obstacle if they did not they were whistled out and could continue on. They were scored 0-5 for horsemanship on each obstacle 0 being they did not complete it and 5 being they did it perfect. They also had an overall time. I average the two scores to get the winners. It was $25 to ride and was an 80% payback. I had nine riders and they all had a blast!
Here is a shot of me getting ready to walk them through the course. That is not Harley this is a mare I rode a bit and wished I didn't this weekend, she was nice, nice, nice and of course for sale!
This is some of the riders getting ready to ride.
This gal was on course here riding a lovely App that made me think of my pony cousin
pony girl! This horse was nice and handled everything well.
A shot of the water crossing, this guy was serious and ended up taking third place. My hubby took these and did a nice job.
This is a shot of the approach to the wood bridge, this fella rode his horse bridle less. He ended up winning the challenge on his other horse. Chatting with him later he told us he is got invited to ride with Craig Cameron on the real extreme cowboy race later this year.
This is a shot of a rider headed up the hill , he was just helping run the mail back to the mailbox in between riders.
We handed out the payback money and had to wrap it up for the weekend. We decided we are going to host a versatility show there in June of next year. We loaded up and got home around 7 last night. Now I have four days to get about 2 weeks worth of stuff done before I head to a show on Friday.
I know I have been tagged to play ghosting and I promise I will work on it!