The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Glorious Work

The Start
It began simply enough. Load up a few horses, trailer 4 miles up the road, move a couple hundred steers farther up the mountain to new pasture. Max has worked for the Strangs for 30 years, and it was on the ranch that he leases from race car great Jeff Gordon where we worked. 30 years is a long time, and he's been on that lease ground for just as long. He knows it like the back of his hand.

Bull Elk in the Reservoir

Bridget's sister, Lori is visiting from her home and horse training business in California, so we loaded up with her daughter, Kit, and headed out. It sounded like fun, nostalgic for me right down to the steers. The terrain and breathtaking, mountain scenery was very different from what I am used to, but nothing about moving a bunch of steers was different at all. They don't like to go up hill, they do like to duck off into the brush, and for some reason completely unknown to me, they don't like to line out on the road.

Canadian Snow Geese

Fortunatly, these were not the wild and crazy variety that run off as soon as look at you. While it was a long way 16 miles up and down the mountain, the steers were well-mannered for the most part and we managed to get about half of them situated. We climbed about 2,000 feet in elevation topping out on the mesa around 9,000 feet. I thought Amelia-ville had spectacular views. From the top, they were indescribable, and pictures don't do them justice.

Slow Elk
Max has some pretty good help in the form of 2 ranch dogs named Nala and Mowgli, a Border Collie mix and a Kelpie. These dogs have clearly made the trip several times, and put out a lot of dog tracks following us all day. I had tried to help Max with his dogs a couple years ago when I was in town for Meeker, but we quickly came to the conclusion that they were useful on the ranch, and we left well enough alone. Good assessment. They are useful.

Max with Nala and Mowgli
Past the reservoir, we angled up sharply and the steers angled just as sharply back the way we came. It was steep, and they hunted and found a way to double-back. It was the only time the steers gave us trouble. Beyond that it was just up and up, and more up through thick stands of Aspen, over countless downed trees, springs and creeks, through thick oak brush along a fenceline and across a bog or two. We started around 9am, and were no where near the top at noon.

 Once we put the steers through the last gate, we stopped for lunch. I would just as soon have stopped for a nap, and to tell the truth, my idea was fairly popular with the outfit. We loosened our cinches, had a good rest, and let the horses blow. It was an extraordinarily beautiful day, warm, but at 9,000', not hot.

Is He on the Phone?
All in all, we had spent about 6 hours making the round trip. With nearly 150 head at the beginning, we counted 134 through the last gate, so we had made a good day of it. Max and signifigant other, Sonia will be back up there tomorrow gathering the rest of the steers for the trip up. Me, and Monkey, the horse I used, are each taking 800mg of Motrin and the rest of the week off.

Finish Line

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