What a day! Things started off OK. I brought Mercy back to the trailer for saddling and that went better. Still not good across the culvert at the creek, but a bit better than the day before. I tied her to the trailer after saddling and she proceeded to paw the ground and the running board of the trailer while I put my boots on in the camper. NOT GOOD! She just earned a bunch of time on the high line in the afternoon. Before we got started, Buck made an announcement that I had received a letter. It was just like being at summer camp! It was a really nice card from my buddies C and E! I thought it might have been a note from my Little Cowboy and Grandma Montana, but when I saw the handwriting on the envelope I knew who it was from.
We didn’t do as much groundwork at previous days. Pretty much do what you need and get on. She was OK. Lighter than yesterday, but it’s really hard to quantify it when you are the one doing it. The groundwork from the trailer back to the arena along the driveway and the culvert was lighter, and in the arena it was lighter. Under saddle it seemed a little lighter, but it’s just so hard for me to gauge it. After a small warm up, we rode outside. We started in the meadow pasture again, but eventually we rode out into a couple of the pastures we had moved cattle from on the first few days. We rode to a spot in one pasture called “The Moon.” It’s a great place with the washed out dry mineral type creeks. Lots of rocks. The footing is still soft and it has varying levels of steepness going into the dry creeks. The area was less than the size of a football field. Mercy jumped across a few of them and felt like she might get a bit wadded up, but did fine with firm direction and praise once across each obstacle. We also crossed another dry creek area where many years ago a rider in a clinic became unseated when his brand new saddle slid over his horse’s head. No wreck as the colt was VERY gentle. We then rode down to an area that was once an open borrow pit/coal mine type area. Again, not large, but soft footing and seems steep because there are no bushes around. Mercy did fabulously in this area. Easy peasy. That was about it. We headed back to gather the cows for afternoon sorting. I trotted out ahead to get the gate for the group that had horses that weren’t gathering from where the cows were holed up. Occasionally Mercy would go into this fake Western Pleasure type jog or a dull slow walk. Buck said not to encourage it. When she walked out, leave her be. When she did the WP jog, pick up a soft feel and ask for the walk out instead. I did LOTS of long and short serpentines and LOTS of encouraging walking out. No slogging along (it’s SO annoying). Mercy needs WAY more lateral work and bending. She chews the bit constantly and is also grinding her teeth. Any thing to change her mind Buck said. Type to keep it subtle if possible. When we got back she got tied to the high line for a while, but it may have to be MUCH longer one of the next few days. I ended up putting her up after I finished lunch. Not nearly long enough, but she was quiet and not pawing. She doesn’t seem to paw on the high line like she does at the trailer. She may need to be tied to a wall like back home for hours on end. I DON’T like having the trailer pawed on!
The afternoon class got going pretty quickly. Not much warm-up. No horsemanship. A few people practiced dragging logs and the rest of us practiced following or throwing shots at roping dummies. We had moved the cows in to the pen outside during the morning class. We ended up bring the whole herd into the arena and moving them to a side pen. One at a time, someone would bring a cow in from the side pen and a person would work on tracking the cow and them maybe throw a few shots. Then the cow was headed and we all took turns throwing heel shots on the live cow. It got a bit western every once in a while. Amazingly, one of the shots I threw on the cow was perfect and I got so excited that I looked away. Whoops! The cow stepped into the loop! I was NOT at the right angle to dally. Buck had me get back into position behind the cow before I could dally on to get my breakaway hondo to pop off. Luckily, I was quite a ways away and when it did pop off it didn’t pop Buena in the nose or anywhere else on her body. She scooted sideways a bit but I got her settled and recoiled my rope. I threw a few more decent shots the rest of the afternoon, but none were dally shots. We are NOT ready for dragging a log just yet, either! We’ll get our turn at tracking a cow in the next few days. We turned the cattle back out on the pasture they were on earlier and called it a day.
Dinner was particularly good tonight. Chicken with rice and peas. My appetite has returned. And I also enjoyed a couple of Corona’s thanks to D who has a large cooler of beer stashed in the chuck wagon area. I have really enjoyed listening to Buck and some of his friends who have stopped by to visit during the clinic. Yesterday it was Nate (a rawhide/leather braider) and his son Jackson (same age as Reata). The previous 2-3 days it was Johnny and Sue. Johnny was the police officer that pulled Buck and his brother out of their house as a child. Johnny was a great old guy and I had a really nice chat with him before he left on Monday. He really liked Buena and talked about an Arab that he had got for his wife many years ago. Johnny had been hit in the head by a horse a few years ago and it caused some brain damage. He gets around OK, but you can tell that he’s had it a bit rough since his accident. Also, Sara Hagel showed up today to deliver Buck a new ferruled bridle headstall and she was taking orders. I ordered a 20 foot mohair mecaté for a snaffle bridle with brown and sorrel colors in it. I told her to be creative. She said she had no idea when it would be done and I was cool with that. No deposit has been made yet, so no worries. Might be a year before I see it though! At dinner I sat with T and J and Reata. After dinner I sat and chatted a bunch with Mary and D, and a little bit with Buck. I REALLY like Mary. She’s a total kick in the pants. And listening to her talk about her life living with Buck and watching them interact is a total side show. They are very much the every day couple raising a teenager! And watching them deal with packing and moving into their cabin in preparation for demolishing and rebuilding their house is quite the evening entertainment.