Last night we drove down to Buena New Jersey to go Team Penning at D&D Stables. Every Tuesday night they put on a family/beginner friendly event that I encourage anyone in the area to attend. Weather you have penned before or not, and weather your horse has seen cattle before or not, the entire staff and regular attendees are welcoming and helpful to everyone. I met up with a bunch of friends from Parx Racing, and their thoroughbred aftercare organization Turning For Home. We had a mix of quarter horses and OTTBs, some seasoned on cattle and some not. It was Rain's along with one other OTTB's first time working cattle. We started out just riding in the arena during the cattle breaks. He was a bit timid around them at first. It was a big difference to see 30 cattle at once than the two or three from over the fence at home. We then got one of the more cattle experienced OTTB's to pony us a little closer so he could stand quietly and watch. Sometimes having a buddy is all it takes to build the confidence needed to enter the herd. Once Rain was comfortable enough to approach on his own, I used him as a herd holder/settler in between runs. He soon figured out that he could push the cows, and it was not long before he was latching on. By the end of the night he was cutting cows out of the herd, and was contributing to the team!
In addition to working the cattle, Rain got a lot of other experience from this trip. There were tons of other horses on the grounds that we rode with, and Rain handled it very well. He did not bat an eye at horses going faster than him or passing him in the warm up pen, and he stood quietly and waited his turn between runs. We would canter out of the arena after settling, and he would walk back to our spot to watch and stand with the reins draped over his neck in our group of friends. I even came back from a run on my cow horse, side passed to Rain who was standing ground tied, and got on him from the other horse. Also, there are bleachers around the arena, and so he got used to seeing people up above him. He did not even flinch. My friends and strangers alike were so impressed at how far Rain has come in such a short period of time.
Below are photos and video from the evening's adventure. Rain has on the blue polos, and I am wearing the teal baseball cap.