Friday, May 13, 2011

Wyoming Happenings

The trailer is hooked up, the bags are packed and the cat is hiding somewhere in the house because he knows the signs by now, but a little tuna will lure him out in the morning.  Tomorrow we--Bob and Betty, horses, dog and cat--head out for the clinic at Mark and Cheryl Lieurance's  in Sperry, Iowa.

For the last week and a half we have been at the TA Ranch while Betty got R&R for a cold and, among other things, Bob helped teach a couple of show steers weighing in at about 1150 lbs a piece how to lead.  Cattle can be taught to lead using the same techniques that work with horses, although in this case a good stout post in the pen provided the means to roll the hind quarters and get the steers stepping through.  We snapped a few photos to show how it progressed. Because these guys hadn't been handled and were pretty defensive they were run into the squeeze chute to get the halters on.  After the halters were in place, with long lead ropes, they were turned loose one at a time and --very carefully--the ropes were retrieved and wrapped around a stout post.  Both steers checked out the post and lead ropes pretty thoroughly, giving them their first introduction to breaking over the hindquarters. 
 After they learned to respect the rope they were turned loose in the pen and worked by their youthful owners in a confined space. They learned to yield to the rope, soften and move their hind quarters away by stepping the inside hind leg across and in front of the outside hind leg, just as you would teach a horse. When this happens they turn and follow on a loose lead if they are rewarded with a release of pressure for even a small try.  By the second sessions both steers had gentled down considerably and  their education had begun.  The black steer was even leading up and looking for Cody for head scratches.  The bald faced steer was a little slower to respond, but he had been the quieter of the two in the beginning.
After just two sessions they were progressing well and it will be fun to see how they are doing when we return to Wyoming in a few weeks.  Both the youth and their parents were fast learners which made it easier for the steers to learn.  As you can see there was no ramming or jamming, no dust was raised and no one was hurt.  We will keep you updated on their progress.

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