Horsin’ Around 4-5-10
Fort Collins, Colo.
Well I have already talked a bunch about buying a new horse but it is always a question of how they are going to turn out when you get them home. That’s because you never know what kind of shots the owner stuck them with just before the sale. Well, I went to many horse sales with a limited budget and sat through them all but every time I thought I’d found a good horse then some one would jump my bid way over what I could afford.
As I explained in another article, I wasn’t sure what I would find in the horse I bought when I got her home. So I got her home and began to work with her. I like to get to know my horses and let them learn to trust me. Then I took her up to “Esh” stable where she was born and raised to have Levi advise me what all he had taught her. Then I rode her myself according to what he had taught her. I didn’t want to do anything that would confuse her from the way he had ridden her.
I went back again with a friend to got some more familiarization with the little mare and concluded that she needed a lot of exposure to the outside world. So when the chance came along I signed up to attend a Cow Sore clinic at the arena at Colorado State University on Saturday. Levi, the trainer, had done an excellent job of starting Lena but I wasn’t sure how she would respond with cowboy style riding. Seems Levi trains his horses for pleasure riders and show horse folks, I want one that will work cattle and respond to the cowboy way of riding. Not that cowboy riding is necessarily rough riding but it is fast and hard riding.
I did, however strap on a running martingale, to keep her head down when I got excited and wanted to turn her quicker than usual. I did this to keep the pull of the reins low, after all she only knew side pull and nothing about neck reining. Moreover, I knew that when excited while reining I have a tendency to raise my hands, causing a horse’s head to rise lift along with the pull of reins.
As I moved into the arena, there were many folks a horseback there and lots of noise from the loud speakers. Lena’s head came up and her eyes became wide as she looked around at all the commotion. So after signing up, I rode her into the exercise round pen and began riding her in the circle, hoping to wear her down.
Boy was that a trip because she had never been in a pen with that many other horses. Every time a horse came behind her, she would kick at them and then pen her ears and try to bite them as they moved by. I remember thinking; “Oh boy this is not going to turn out well at all.” And she did not seem to settle down and I was not sure I could ride her long enough to tire her down.
Finally they called us over to ride, in pairs, in the sorting pen. Team sorting is when they run in 10 steers numbered from one to zero. One rider stays at the gate and the other rides into the pen, as that rider rides in the judge calls out a number. The sorter must bring out that numbered critter, the person at the gate then rides in to sort the next number and vice versa. The team with the most steers and the fastest time wins.
I did not know how Lena would react when my partner brought the whole bunch around the pen directly at her, but she held her space and mover them aside like a champion. Then when we rode in to bring one out she worked like a champion, only getting a little confused determining which one I wanted to bring out. When I let her know with the reins she responded like we had been doing it all along.
I learned a lot about my new little mare and I was proud of her. After running a few pens I could ride her out and line up with the rest of horses and she would drop her head and stand content. This is what she is bred for and demonstrated it to me that afternoon. I am happy and hope I can work cattle with her enough to keep her happy.
Prior to his retirement, Roger Thompson was a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.
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