We returned to Fiddleback Ranch for Ladies Night #6 on a humid and rainy evening. Tonight was an evening I'd been looking forward to for many weeks. We'd be working on moving cows, first on foot and then on horseback. We were a full house tonight with our Ladies Night riders as well as two additional guests.
Gathered in the humid covered arena while the rain dripped outside were a dozen riders on foot. My Cowgirl Pal, Lisa and I had hauled our horses in my rig. We were directed to leave our horses in my trailer until it was time to ride.
Looking around I noted two other Cowgirl Pals who have attended sorting events with me. That made four of us (and our horses) who have previously been exposed to cows. As for the remaining eight, it would be interesting to see how they and their horses reacted to this new experience.
Cows had been delivered to Fiddleback Ranch, compliments of Rachel's "significant other", Ken. Owning and operating a stock hauling business with a rodeo bull breeding business on the side, Ken had generously donated the cows for tonight. Who better to talk to us about moving cows but someone like Ken?
Initially Ken explained the various types of cows (bulls, steers, etc.) and then some of their personality traits including a cow's bubble. A cow's bubble is the space between you and a cow where your presence prompts him to move forward, sideways or to retreat. Your presence around the bubble can also halt the cow. Ultimately it is how you push a cow's bubble that makes the cow react. In addition, contrary to what some may say - cows are not stupid and can easily outsmart those who try to individually direct (move) them.
Ken demonstrated the bubble and showed us how he could determine which way a cow would move, stop, etc. We broke into two groups to try it on our own. I joined Rachel and my team up at the outdoor arena while the other team remained with Ken.
Moving them on foot was easier said than done! I'd never had an opportunity to work them on foot; I've always been up on Bob. I found I had to slow down my motions, if I moved quickly and invaded their bubble I'd move them where I didn't want them to go. I recognized and appreciated how much easier it is to move them on Bob vs on foot.
It took a long time for us to all get through moving cows on foot. As those who had never worked cows before got on their horses, Lisa suggested that tonight we sit this ride out. She pointed out that we and our horses have had more experience with cows so we should let those who have never been around cows have this night's ride. Although I was a bit disappointed, I had to agree with her. I knew I'd get more out of this evening on foot, assisting in moving cows into the arena for the rider and learning how to read their bubbles than I would on Bob's back.
And that's exactly what I did although I have to say as often as I did it, I still didn't do it as well as I would have liked. Soon there were only two riders left to introduce their horses to cows. It was dark and raining and Lisa and I found this a good time to make our exit and get our horses home and out of the trailer they'd been in (poor guys)!
I have to admit this night wasn't one of those +10's like I've had before. I felt strange not riding Bob. However, I did get more time in on foot than the others so I still consider it a good evening.
Ladies Night #7 is coming up. It's our last Ladies Night of the season. We'll be back at Fiddleback Ranch where we will actually be sorting cows. We've been separated into two groups and will come and ride at separate times. My group consists of my Cowgirl Pals who have sorted cows before. We'll be the first group to work the cows. After a break the second Ladies Night group will haul in to sort. This group consists of those who haven't sorted cows in the past.