“I want to be a cowboy, baby!” – Kid Rock

I’ve gone soft(er) in the head. I’ve agreed to take Prize team penning. What is team penning, you ask? Three people on horses ride into an arena with 30 cows. The cows have numbers on their backs. There are three number 1s, three number 2s, etc. The team has to get the three cows with the number they’ve been assigned out of the herd and into a pen at the other end of the arena without disturbing the rest of the cows. There is a time limit too. Personally, I think “all day” may not be a long enough time but the limit is 75 seconds for the beginners.

Yes, I have agreed to take my hunter/dressage horse and work cows off her. May the gods have mercy.

There is a method to the madness. In the back of my mind I am thinking about the Morgan Sport Horse award. This is a program that tracks the lifetime of achievement of Morgans in competitions other than Morgan shows. There are 7 categories that you can get awards in – open showing, dressage, competitive trail, endurance, eventing, driving, and working western. The highest award is the Sport Horse award. It is given to a horse who wins medallion awards in 5 of the 7 categories. I don’t really think we’ll ever win the big award because it takes a lot of work but I’d like to be able to say that she has medallion points in many events. Hardly anyone competes in the working western division so that would show true versatility. Or it may be the death of me. One or the other.

Prize is into cows. Our pasture is adjacent to a dairy pasture so she grazes beside cows every day. Those cows get out alot too. When they are loose she watches them intently from her stall window. I once saw her sneak up on a cow grazing by the fence and then chase it. So the thought that she might like working cows has been in my mind for a while. When some people I know said that they were going to try team penning I impulsively said I’d like to try it too. They think I’m funny because when we talk about it I say things like, “Can I borrow a western saddle?” I’m going to have to go out and buy my own western style shirt. I’m such a little english rider that this will probably disturb me greatly. The helmet may be a deal breaker. I don’t ride without one and the penning rules say western hat or no hat. I think they will let me wear a helmet though if I tell them that I fall off a lot.

Liking cows is different from riding around in the herd though. When I express doubts because she’s never worked cows before my soon to be teammate said that the closest his horse has ever been to a cow is when he let him smell a McDonald’s wrapper. Great. We’re going to die.

A few weeks ago the cows got out when I was riding in the arena. Prize’s cow radar came up and she stood and stared. I could see cow feet under the door. So I jumped off and opened the gate. I would have opened the gate while on her but it was a bit unsteady. The whole gate collapsed on top of her. She jumped back out of the way but came forward again to get at the cows. The cows ran home when they saw her walking down the aisle at them so I didn’t get to get on and chase them. She didn’t seem afraid of them. I’m hoping that since she was born on a farm in the prairies of Canada she has some inborn cow sense. I don’t know that this farm actually had cows but that isn’t affecting my fantasies.