Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting My Feet Wet

Saturday I got my first taste of competition.

We went to a very relaxed Sorting Match in Gilroy, California. For those of you who don't know what Ranch Sorting is, essentially it goes like this: There are ten head of cattle, numbered 0-9 in one pen and that is joined to an empty pen. A number is called (we'll say 3), and a two-person team has 75 seconds to sort the cattle through the gate into the empty pen in sequence (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, 1, 2..) without letting the wrong number get through. One person guards the gate, and one sorts the cattle. Often, you'll see the team members switch off.

I was there warming up my trainer's horses, helping him get ready, observing..the usual. It was great watching all of the competitors, and they were all really good! At the end of the match, they had a pot draw: you pay $5 and get a playing card, and the person who has your matching suit is your partner. My trainer offered the other apprentice and I a chance to play, and I agreed, even though I was extremely nervous (I couldn't, however, back down from the challenge! No way!). I ended up drawing the King of Clubs, which was fortunate for me since Kings go last!

My partner was an extremely nice guy, and one of the best sorters there. Unfortunately, he also didn't speak any English and relied on his partner to call out the numbers for him in Spanish. Ho-boy, I was a complete rookie and we couldn't communicate. Frantically, I went over my high school Spanish lessons in my head (uno, dos, tres..).

I was a bundle of nerves waiting but, once we were in the pen, it was like no one else was there. You just don't have time to be nervous. In the end, the cattle totally ate me alive, but we managed to sort out five before an odd cow got through, which definitely didn't make us the worst run! I thanked my partner profusely, and apologized, to which he only smiled and shrugged and said "Was fun! Good job!"

All in all, it was a great introduction to the sport. I wouldn't mind trying it out again. After some practice.

And, of course, Kachina was well! Since we were at the show, I didn't have much time with her, but she looked happy and healthy and gave me a congratulatory snort when I told her all about it.


  1. wow, i learned something again today (blogging is a great source to learn new things!). that sounds like fun and doesn't harm or aggrevate the cattle. good job!