I had been trying to find time to attend the ranch sorting practice at Cibolo livery for some time now. It's the closest thing to team penning around, and they stopped offering team penning at Cibolo some time back. The problem is that the ranch sorting practice is only held once a month. That's a tall order with my schedule.
I loaded up the horses and kids, and headed to the stables. Christine came along and was a huge help in handling the horses.
They started with a jackpot, which was basically ranch sorting for money for the teams that really knew what they were doing. I passed, of course, but I watched closely to see what the "pros" were doing. I made some small talk with the other riders, and made some new friends. There were some very impressive horses and riders in the jackpot round.
The practice session opened immediately after, and I gave it a whirl on Vaquero. I though he did pretty well for his first time out, and I looked forward to some more runs.
I fed my kids and then jumped back in the action. Only everyone had pretty much paired up by then, and I was struggling to find a partner. After my oldest daughter, Victoria, declined to try it, Christine agreed to give it a whirl on Woody. Wow! This was going to be interesting, two novices trying to ranch sort!
I don't know who was more nervous. As we waited in line for our turn, we discussed strategy. As if we needed to! This was just about getting some experience.
We headed into the round pens, and they announced "ride when ready". After encouraging Christine that the announcement meant she should get started, we were off. Well, we managed to get a few (two or so) calves sorted, and many more that shouldn't have been, but we survived the 90 seconds. Vaquero performed poorly, and was barely containable. His extra energy was not helpful in this event, and I found myself getting very frustrated with him. But Chrsitine was hooked! She wanted another round.
We waited our turn again, and hit it for our second effort. Christine and Woody did better, but Vaquero was a total disaster. He had no clue as to what we were doing, and his energy was excessive for the event. but we had fun.
A few observations after trying this event: Vaquero is ill suited for ranch sorting. It's not that he's not "cowy" or quick enough. He has plenty of skill in those areas. It's that he can't stay put, and he has to move FORWARD, and this is an event where you're required to "hold" the cattle, and that often means staying put or just side-passing or just yielding hindquarters but staying in place. He just can't do any of that and NOT move forward. And once he moves forward, we are out of position.
This event is not something I'll be doing often. It's not offered enough and my schedule won't allow it. But it's apparent I'm going to need a good QH to do some of the cattle events. I'll try to make a few play-days with Vaquero, but I suspect he won't do well there either. And I miss loping, and Vaquero doesn't do that well.
I rode Woody a bit in the arena while we were there, but his trot was torture for my back, and I kept him in a lope. I was very envious of al the QH riders there with some beautiful looking QH's that OBVIOUSLY had smooth trots and slow lopes.
I need a smooth trotting, good looking QH. It's that simple. It's time to start saving pennies. But it was one heck of an experience, and I'll be back.