High Hopes

I was very excited today…

The boys and their girlfriends were to ride the Mills badlands pasture, fixing fence, and re-doing my electric fence watergap again… stupid cows.
I, on the other hand, was given the job of gathering the Ritchie pasture on my own.  Alone.  Me and my dogs.  Whoopie!
Well, I was just to kick them in the right direction and let them trail around the fenceline if they’d come, having already opened the gates.
We set out, my three English Shepherds and I.  They were all giddy, barking, running, and wagging their tails.
This pasture is maybe a mile from my house.
I rode along the northern edge first, kicking any cows off the ridgeline down into the bottom.  By the time we reached the northwest corner, Lucas was hot, tired, and already brushing up.  We were only 1/3 of the way done.  I took a few breaks, trying to give him some relief.  I finally just encouraged him onward, there is a reservoir in the bottom of the northwest corner and I hoped it had water in it.  As we approached, all three dogs broke from following me and dashed ahead.  They smelled something!  It must have just been the plants around the edge, because the dam was dry as a bone.  I jogged my horse to catch up to them, and decided to give them most of my water I’d packed along.
I keep a collapsible bowl in my banana bag just for this use.  Lucas lay in the shade and I dismounted, dug out the water and the bowl and gave him the majority of the water… the girls got a little less, I took a few swigs.  I let my horse graze a while, then told Lucas to “Stay” and take a break.  The girls and I dug a bull out of the tall sage and headed him towards home.  Lucas trailed along behind, brushing up and then catching up.  There was no way I wanted to repeat his bad episode from 2 years ago.
We headed east, picking up pairs as we went.  Finally we made it to the reservoir above Ritchies’ cabin, and I let the dogs soak.  I’d nudge some pairs off of the pond and ease them eastward… by the time all the cows were gone, the dogs were recovered.  The slow pace of the trail let the cows stay paired… they were quiet trailing around the rimrock and heading home.  That’s a good sign for a cowboy!
We did great!
However, it went downhill from there.  I should have let them go on their own from there, but since it was going so well, I figured I could keep it going, but for various reasons, fencelines, good grass, creek, and hills, I lost control and managed to mess everything up.
It got ugly pretty fast.  I finally had to just drop them. The kids and I rode back out this evening, hoping they got themselves straightened out.  They hadn’t, not entirely… but we’ll clean up the mess in the morning and then take them to the Mesa.
I had such high hopes… but I’ll just focus on the first half of the morning, when things went right!
Lucas is exhausted and sore, but very happy.  Come to think of it, I am too!

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