Sunday, February 21, 2010

Still Catching Up: Cow, Bird, and Cat Herding?

Two days before Christmas I decided to try out one of my gifts from last year! Finally! My sister got me one of those neat steer heads so I could practice my rope tossing. For whatever reason, it took me a long time to get a bale bag and actually haul out the rope. I decided to introduce Mercy (and Star, kinda) to the sound of the rope hitting the plastic and canvas. I have thrown a rope off of Mercy before, while on and off her, but never at anything. Of course she could care less and just wanted to touch the steer head and continue eating her hay.

So I pulled on the rope and moved it in her direction. She stood her ground and seems very interested. Star, on the other hand, well, you can see her reaction... right before she bolted out of her stall and into her run.

I pulled it a little closer...

I hauled her out of her stall, de-cloaked her, groomed her up, and headed up to the trailer to saddle up. When I was warming her up and checking her responses to aids while neck reining, Chai decided to come say hi.

I actually thought she might have jumped up into the saddle with me she was that excited to see me! Could have been an interesting deal if Mercy wasn't OK with that...

No cat herding today. Only cows and birds for now, lol! Although, Chai does kind of look like a cow now that I think about it. Same blotchy black and white markings and those little devil horns I can see on her most days. Yup. Definitely part cow. *shrugs*
After that diversion, we got back to work. I practiced throwing the rope away from us, at nothing in particular, just to make sure we were still good with the basics. Then I moved on to twirling the rope over my head and Mercy. Again nothing. So I let it slip a few times and let it smack her in the face, on the rump, under her tail, to see if I could get a reaction. Nope. Nothing. We were still at a stand still, but every little experience counts, so it was a great start.
When I felt we were good enough to catch something, I positioned her behind the steer. Again, at a stand still. I took one shot and missed. She yawned. Thanks Mercy. I coiled my rope back up and tried again. This time I got one horn. Perfect! I got it tight, held on to the rope and asked Mercy to back a step. She complied and the steer moved to the right a little bit as we backed. And then the rope slipped off and we came to a stop ourselves. Perfect.
Still looking bored, I made Mercy move off to the left as we dragged the rope. I coiled it up as we made our way back to the steer. This time I *actually* made a full shot and got the whole head. Fine with me! I once again asked her to back and she got a little antsy and jigged sideways into the rope. I corrected her quickly and again asked her to back, which she did. That's where I dropped the rope in the ground, dismounted, and loosened her cinch. I would call that a great introduction to roping.
Unfortunately, I don't know that much about roping, so that is where I will probably leave it until I can get some pro help. I also decided that day that I don't know if roping is going to ever be my thing. I like working cows, not roping them. But I won't give up training Mercy the basics. I will continue tossing the rope and maybe one day I will find an old tire along the road and ask her to drag it. Maybe that will lead to me dallying off on my saddle. Who knows?!

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