I call for the cattle. They turn three into the arena. Puncher locks on the cattle. For me that is the rush. I send her “Away”. She stops when she gets to them and looks back at me. Probably waiting for my neurotic evil twin to shout something confusing. I have silenced her.
I “woosh” her on and then start walking up to help her. She bats them back and forth for a bit then I slow her down and she brings them just right. Nice and slow. I back up and try to keep myself in the best position to help her (at least not hinder) as she drives them through the first obstacle, a set of panels with an opening in the middle of the arena.
I’m still conscious and focused and remarkably calm. Guess what? So is Puncher. I flank her slowly back and forth so she is turning the cattle to the left. I slowly walk her up and use my body as an extension of the wing that funnels the cattle into the bucking chutes right under the crows nest. I leave her there (too long) as the cattle walk through single file and come out the other end. One more obstacle; loading the trailer. We have loaded trailers a hundred times at home. My heart is beating out of my chest. Victory is near.
Oh NO!!!!! I lingered too long at back of the bucking chutes. A steer is coming out the other end and we aren’t there. I send Puncher, she tries to turn him. It’s too late. They brake out and we loose them.
Just like home.
They all run back to the gate where they came in with Puncher trying to turn them the whole time. But now I honestly don’t know what to do. (Just like home). I take a breath. I’m going to run out of time. Oh well. At home I would stop Puncher, call her to me and settle her for a minute which is exactly what I do now. Good dog.
I’m still not real sure what to do. I have to forget about the clock. I send Puncher “Come By” and we start driving them back over to the trailer using the fence for help. The only problem is we are going towards the wrong end of the trailer. I couldn’t figure out how to get them around the trailer before they stuff themselves into a V between the trailer and the fence.
I know what to do here because this kind of crap happens at home. Alot. We can do this. I send Puncher “Away” and she circles around the trailer where they are hiding their heads. She dives under the trailer gate and goes to chewing noses. They blast out of there like someone shot them out of a cannon. Now that’s funny!! But it’s little too fast and they bolt back to the gate again. I’m smiling now. I’m actually having fun.
We stroll back over there I send her again. She picks them up again and we start easing them back down to the trailer. Time is called. I don’t care.
I am so proud of Puncher I could burst! Oh well, we only got two obstacles. But we did “Better our Best”. I leash her, give her a big hug and we walk out together. “What a good dog you are!” I take her over to the handlers hospitality room for a drink and a leftover hamburger. Then I join my friends in the grandstand. Everyone says “Good Job”. That feels good.
I watch the last few runs. I don’t know where I stand or if I’m even close to winning. I don’t ask. No one says anything about it. It’s over. I’m really happy with Puncher and everything about today.
Then I hear the announcer say “Terah Lambert, go get your dog and come down to the arena for pictures”.
I won? WE WON!
I’m so grateful to my friend Laura. For breeding a dog like Puncher, and for helping me learn how to train her and work cattle and compete like this. This has been a dream for all my adult life. Please don’t wake me up. Let’s dream some more.
Love, Cowgirl Red aka Terah
PS Thanks Whitney for the great action pictures of Puncher and me. xoxoxo
PSS We won because no one else in the Novice Class got all three obstacles and we had a faster time for the two that we did get. Makes sense?
I am a Cowgirl, Artist ...... Goddess of the Plains.
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