contacted last fall by a freelance writer (a Fjord owner
herself!) who was writing an article about Fjord horses.
The article was to focus primarily on the Fjord's
wonderful disposition as well as their versatility.
This writer had learned of Dusty's (our senior stallion)
accomplishments in Cutting and Reining and asked if she
could come to my ranch for a photo shoot. She
mentioned that she was primarily interested in getting
pictures of Dusty cutting. When I told her that I
did not have any cattle at the present time, her
response was, "Well, I do!"
turned out that her husband was the manager of an
enormous ranch (16,000 owned acres, 21,000 leased acres)
just outside of Medford, Oregon. They ship 1,600
head of yearling cattle and SHIPPING DAY WAS FAST
My heart skipped several beats! My first thoughts
were that I had never seen that many cattle all in one
place and boy, could Dusty and I have fun! Thus
began the planning for "Dusty's Great Adventure."
was a beautiful, Sunday morning in late October when
Dusty and I headed towards southern Oregon to 'play'.
The further south we traveled, the warmer it got.
When we arrived at our destination, the temperature had
reached 92 degrees. In my excitement over our
upcoming adventure, I forgot about the box of chocolates
lying on the seat of the truck that my husband has given
me for the trip. By the time I remembered them
later that evening, they had puddled into a very
interesting collage of flavors!
dinner that evening, I was told that 'something' had
stampeded the entire herd of yearlings through fences
and they had scattered to the four corners of the earth.
They suspected that it might have been a cougar with
cubs that had been seen recently in the area, OR there
was a possibility that one of the exotic cats (lions,
tigers, etc.) had escaped from a neighboring ranch!
hired hands (cowboys) had managed to round up all but 20
head. I was told that we needed to work quietly
the next morning during the loading process since the
cattle were still 'edgy' and they sure didn't want them
to stampede again!
Since we were to be at the loading pens shortly after
sunrise, I retired to the guest house rather early
hoping for a good night's rest before our great
adventure at the crack of dawn the next morning.
However, as the roosters began crowing and the sun began
peeking over the horizon, I didn't feel very rested.
I had had a difficult time finding peaceful sleep.
Perhaps it was because I could hear Dusty restlessly
pacing his pen. I had risen several times during
the night to check on him to be sure he was safe.
Perhaps those big cats had returned?
probably sleep had eluded me because I had eaten half of
that box of 'sweet swill, formerly known as chocolates,
trying to figure out which puddle contained my favorite
Sunrise that morning found us at the loading pens where
the cowboys and buyers had begun sorting and the semis
began arriving. It was quite a sight!
was asked if we could wait until the majority of the
cattle were loaded onto the semis before beginning the
'shoot' so that we wouldn't rile up the already 'edgy'
cattle. That worked well for us since that gave
folks time to set up all of the cameras. I was
given a pen of culled cattle to 'play' with.
Cameras were in position and I was given the green
light. I looked the cattle over to determine which
ones might give me the best work and which ones might
give me trouble. I quickly noticed two heifers
with a severe case of pink eye. They were
basically blind in that one eye and would be difficult
to work if we were on that side of them. Those
cattle can be very dangerous and can run right into,
over, or through a horse. If eight legs get
tangled up, it can be rather painful and everyone can
end up in a heap.
black heifer really stood out. She was one of
those that wakes up in the morning, tail straight up in
the air, breathing fire and blowing snot! To make
matters worse, she was one of the ones with pink eye.
It was obvious that if she were pressured very much, she
would sprout wings and try to fly over the fence.
Now that I think about it, I bet she was the one that
led the stampede the day before.
Dusty quietly moved around the herd as we were settling
them. At that point, I was convinced that that
heifer was the 'devil incarnate'! Her mother must
have told her that cows eat horses for lunch!
Most of the time, when the cattle are as 'fresh' as
these were, they'll move away from a horse until they
are 'settled' and rather 'trained' to bunch up.
Not this nasty she-devil! She'd catch sight of us
with her one good eye and then she'd charge! She
was quite a challenge!
Several times while giving Dusty a breather across the
pen from the cattle, I'd hear something behind us and
turn around only to see this heifer charging Dusty's
behind as though she was El Toro and Dusty had a big red
cape draped over his butt! Then, there was that
glowing, iridescent, RED EYE! It was a bit
unnerving! I almost thought I could see her
breathing fire - well - maybe it was just her breath in
the crisp morning air!
managed to wear out that pen of cattle at the same time
that everyone ran out of film so we called it a day,
loaded up and returned to the ranch headquarters.
Upon arriving there, I was interviewed for one of the
all of the activities were over, I loaded Dusty into the
trailer and headed north for home. It was a
three-hour trip. I had time to savor the events of
the weekend and I came to the conclusion that this was,
indeed, yet one more of "Dusty's Great