It was cattle mustering time at the farm last night. The herd needed to be bought in so the calves could be separated from their mamas, and then tagged. The Whanau (that means family for those who aren’t kiwi) left for the muster as soon as Emma, Mere and Sarah-Anne were back from school and so no-one was home when I arrived. “Ahh,” I thought to myself “Some time alone to read my book.” I snuggled onto my bed and was soon lost in the world of Show Jumping. After about ½ an hour Lance appeared and knocked on my window. “Did you see my note on the floor by the front door?” he asked. I hadn’t. You see, there is a lot of paper around in our house, and one piece of paper doesn’t stand out from the rest. “Oh well, Ghost is in the yards for you to ride, we thought you could meet the others out the back but their might not be much point now”. I decided to go see what I could do anyway so grabbed Ghosts bridle and jumped on her bareback. We cantered up the hill only to meet the cows coming through the second to last paddock before the yards. I didn’t attempt to get to the others since it only would have sent the cows running back the way they came. Instead Ghost and I stood to the side and watched the others chasing the herd through the paddock. Have you ever seen or rather heard people chasing cows? It’s rather fascinating. Cries of ‘Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey” and “Get up, getttt up” along with the bellowing of the herd resonate through the evening air to create a sort of ‘Mustering Symphony’. Finally the cows were through to our paddock and it was our turn to help.
After the herd was in the yards, Val asked Emma and Mere to go to the river lease paddock to get some of the extra cows and bring them back. Somehow I got roped into doing it also and so off we went. We first had to check the Ostrich pen to see if the cows were in there. Thankfully they weren’t since none of us really wanted to face the ostriches. On the way back to the river lease we passed the hay paddock. One of the herds of feral goats, that roam our farm and eat all our grass, were chomping happily in there. We were soon in there, chasing those blasted goats out of the paddock and down a small bank. Into the river lease we went, searching for the small herd of cows that we knew were in there. Now the river lease is a huge paddock, I’ve spent over an hour looking for horses in there before. There are hills everywhere and dozens of little side clearings that a small herd of cows could hide in. We were riding down the main hill when we met the horses. They came straight up to us and wouldn’t leave us alone. This would have been fine in normal circumstances… but at least two of the horses were stallions. One was only a yearling (I think) colt but the other was fully developed. And two of us were on mares. Emma, who was on Summer, seemed to be fine with them. Summer was biting and kicking anytime any of the horses came near. But Ghost wasn’t trying to fight them off at all. And the stallion wasn’t leaving her alone either.
I tried scaring the stallion off by yelling at him, but he didn’t care. Then when he started getting mouthy I started getting worried. I’ve read stories about stallions trying to mount a mare when a rider has been on and things never ended well. Emma was starting to get worried too and I told her (I could have been over reacting) that if the stallion tried to do anything to Summer (i.e. mount) she was to get off immediately and leave Summer to fend for herself. I jumped off Ghost and grabbed a stick of the ground and tried throwing it at him. Unfortunately I missed so I picked up a huge stick that took two hands to carry and charged at him. He ran off but was almost immediately back to Ghost. I grabbed another stick and vaulted back onto Ghost and got him in front of me and then hit his rump a couple of times. Again he ran off, but came straight back.
By now we were coming to the entrance of a small path that led out to the back of the paddock. Since Mere was on Morrie and was having no trouble with the horses, in fact Morrie was being a hero and fending the horses off, we left her to guard the entrance to the path so we could have a quick look for the cows. We rode along as far as we could but couldn’t find them and was on our way back when we heard a shout from Mere. The stallion barged past her. It came galloping straight up to Ghost and I gave it a good couple of whacks with my stick. It ran on ahead of us and we were soon out in the open again. The stallion was still being a big pest and I was still worried so I made the decision to get out of there. I stuck Mere at the back since she was on a big fast thoroughbred that was doing a great job of being aggressive to the horses and we started up the hill home. At some point we put the horses into a canter and Emma who had been just behind, blasted past me. Mere and Morrie had set of at a canter too and the other horses were soon past her and were fast catching up to us. I felt Ghost getting tired and since I didn’t feel like we were in any immediate danger since we were almost to the top of the hill, I let her trot. Emma had gotten to the gate and was holding it open for Mere and I. I trotted Ghost through while Mere kept the horses at bay, then jumped off Ghost and helped give Mere a chance to get away. We walked home, full of talk of what had just happened.
The cows still haven’t been found.
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