Not too long ago I was a fitness junkie. I taught fitness classes, ate right, and looked great. One of my favorite activities was cross training because it keeps your fitness level up and makes life interesting.
Since then life sucker punched me and I’ve gained quite a few lbs. It’s something I continue to work on, but that’s not my point.
My point is cross training…it’s so useful! Cross training your brain, your body, your mind. It’s not just a fitness practice.
I take lessons weekly for the hunter discipline and I also enjoy jumping. I’m always working to improve my equitation. Unfortunately showing was never in my cards. Without shows to look forward to I sometimes have a difficult time going into my lessons with any real goal; at times I feel lost. A couple years ago I wanted to jump. Once I started jumping my trainer put a hunter pace on the table (Autumn Colors, New Experiences, is That a Tree?) and I was motivated to make it to that. At the moment my only goal is to be a better rider.
My fellow students are actually working hard for an upcoming show, but I am working simply to get better…but the goal is so vague it’s difficult for me to measure any sort of success. I can go weeks…months even…and still feel like I’m going nowhere personally.
Last weekend I broke out of the arena and tackled some bucket list items (Bucket List!). This past weekend I did it again, accomplishing something else totally new to me.
Since joining mounted archery I have met some incredible people. One of my great new friends has been talking to me about cow sorting for weeks. Finally our schedules matched up and together we made it happen! Friday night her and I met up and drove to Canaan, NY together to Cowgirl Up Ranch. I had the pleasure of meeting everyone there and was greeted with a big smile and a hug. Another friend and instructor for mounted archery drove her horses up from PA for the night. The three of us shared her 2 geldings and I got my first taste of cow sorting.
As a quick run-down (I’m clearly no expert)…The arena is shaped a bit like an hour glass, 2 round-pens with an opening in the center. Twelve cows huddle together in the round pen; 10 labelled 0-9 (the numbers are on a tag like a necklace) and 2 unlabeled.
Two riders go into the arena at the opposite end. As they pass through the center line they are given a number. From here the riders, as a team, need to get that cow labelled with the starting number and direct her through the gate without the others getting through. Once that is accomplished the team herds the next number and the next (once you get to 9 you go for 0, then 1, etc). This is a timed event so your goal is to sort as many cows as you can in the time given.
I’ve never even DREAMED of doing something like this but I’m so glad that I did it! Friday night was loads of fun. I learned a lot and met some wonderful people. I’m hoping I can go back again someday.
Side note: I began my rides on Red, a tall Quarter Horse gelding. We took a moment to acquaint him to the cows (he’s likely done this before but we weren’t positive). Once he was no longer nervous he really started to enjoy it. By the end of the night he was pinning his ears and working the cows. I LOVE THIS HORSE.
The fun doesn’t stop there, however. Oh no.
Saturday I continued to break up my routine and joining Apex Mounted Archery for some more practice! Scooter and Red were both there along with another’s mare, Nooner. At each practice I meet some new faces.
This week we had some youngsters join us. They took to mounted archery fast. Kids are such quick learners! Among our new members was a fantastic mom who brought her daughter 3 hours to join us. She also happens to be a fantastic photographer. This was her first time photographing moving horses since her specialty is newborns. I should mention now, her work is incredible! Visit her business page and see for yourself. I was in awe of the pictures that came out of our practice. To show you a few:
I practice mounted archery whenever I can; lately the crew has been coming to town every 2 weeks. Each time I improve, even if only slightly.
This practice I was delighted that I cantered Red….my tall handsome boyfriend from the night before. Until now I had only cantered Scooter for mounted archery. The kids were jumping all over Scooter so my only chance to canter was on Red, and I’m so glad I did!
Did I mention I also met Cookie, an adorable and tiny 6-week Boston Terrier/King Charles Cavalier?
Pending the weather and the jobs at home I still plan to keep practicing on the ground. Dare I say that I actually sat on Blade bareback and shot the target?
The last couple of weekends have fed the equine addict in me. In fact, the last few years I have grown exponentially as a horse-person. I can only help but ask….what’s the next adventure?