I took Remi today to a team sorting practice. I have never done this before and it was great fun. You start with 10 cows numbered 1 through 10 in a 60 ft round pen and the goal is to move them in order through a gate into another pen. You work with a partner and one person brings one cow, say number 5 then you switch and the other person brings number 6 and how ever many you can get moved in 60 seconds is your score. The person not bringing a cow stands in the gate and keeps the penned cows from leaving and other cows that are not the right number from getting in.
To me guarding the gate is the hardest because you have to keep your eyes on all the cows. Invariably, one of the cows you sorted correctly has a best friend who wants to be in the other pen before you are ready for it. This cow will try to sneak in behind you while you are focused on the cow your partner is bringing to the gate. Yells from the crowd such as “watch your butt” alert you to a sneak attack but getting your horse turned to face that cow without letting more than you want come from the other direction is not always possible. If the wrong cow gets in you are disqualified so this can be frustrating but it is part of the fun.
So it becomes very important to try to keep the herd quiet and get just a few cows separated so the gate person has a chance to keep some order. At one point I think it was about 50/50 the cows that got through that we wanted verses the ones who snuck through. Luckily, since this was practice we got to keep going our full 60 seconds. By my last run I was more interested in just getting the right cows even if it was only 2 out of ten.
Remi has obviously worked cows before and he had a blast. When we first arrived he was very nervous with all the cowboys and cows. I think he thought he was at a roping and I don’t think he has good memories around that. I worked him a little on the ground and tossed the lead rope up towards the saddle to get him used to things touching him. At first he rushed off and got all upset so I just walked him up to the pens and let him see what was going on. I also gave him a little flower essence called crisease and after watching the others work the cows he took a deep breath and I could then toss the rope up on the saddle and he was completely fine with it. I knew then he was ok to get on and he seemed to have fun both bringing the cows and working the gate.
Because this was my first time, my partner and I did not try to switch off but instead one of us did the gate and the other brought cows for the whole run. I think it would have totally blown my mind if I had to keep track of which cow and which person was doing what. I learned that luck can be a huge asset if you happen to get two cows in a row with the right numbers, such as cow 5 followed by cow 6, you can let both of them go in the pen. Again yells from the crowd like “let em both in” are very helpful. This was a great group of people and everyone seemed to be having fun, even the cows. Madalyn