The husband made his third trip, accompanied by the son who was once a promising rider. After hours in an arena, burning the human neural networks to move with a horse (and the horse neural networks for stimulus and response) can you actually DO anything on a horse? You can join the cavalry, take up polo, or try ranch work - with the Rusty Spurr Cattle Drive being the easiest of the lot.
Actually, it's a "Tom Sawyer" type of operation - the cows tend to congregate at the water holes and every few days someone has to go drive them a few miles away, to give them fresh grazing and give the water hole a rest. So why not find someone who will PAY for the experience? It starts with a couple of miles of spread-out riding, both to rehearse cattle-gathering tactics but also to diminish the horse-herd solidarity and allow development of the human/horse hierarchy. Yes, the most stressful part of the operation for the horse probably is dealing with the stranger thus thrust upon him. After finding the cattle, gathering them is a bit like cow-chess (or GO, where strategy focuses on claiming space over time) because the horses have a cow-repulsion field that causes individual cows to move away. Unfortunately, once they are in a herd the effort needed to drive cows in mass increases - the best tactic seemed to be to trot obliquely at the back of the herd to wedge the mass forward. Of course, pressure on the back of the herd can spill cows off the sides (or squirt them out the rear), so herd-loss takes constant attention. So dealing with the cows is frustrating and eventually the highest and best use of the cows seems to be McDonalds hamburgers.
About the time the horses are tiring and the riders are saddle-sore and the cows are beginning to get the upper hand, the cattle dog zooms in and makes everything right - and shows how effective the amateur cowboys aren't. Finally, there is the ride, two or three miles, back to the cow camp. The tired riders make no effective objection as the horse-herd solidarity reasserts itself because they are in a near-religious state from the western incense of warm horses and trampled sagebrush. Of course, after the drive they serve hamburgers. If you ride, don't miss this. If you don't ride well, just let the horse conduct you along with the herd and take pictures as you go.
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