December 6, 2010

12/4/10 – Rancho Oso – Showtime

It’s December; we’ve been on the road for more than a month now.  We’re getting into a routine with the trailer, and it’s getting easier.  Next stop was 1000 Trails Rancho Oso is surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest.  It’s actually a dude ranch, and my favorite 1000 Trails so far.  The trailers are set up on a hillside in stair step rows. 
Friday evening we went to a wine tasting at the Adult Center with local wines from the Santa Inez Valley.  There was only one other couple and a lady from England staying at one of the cabins with her mother.  After the tasting, the wine was "raffled" and we took home a couple bottles of wine.  Works for me...
Every other Saturday morning they have a cattle dog demonstration and rodeo bull training session.  I thought it sounded interesting so we headed down to the corral. 
Bill, the manager of the resort has Australian kelpies, trained to work cattle.  They had already separated out several young steers from the herd and moved them through the chutes into a lower pasture.  He introduced his older dog Cutter, and then sent him out to collect the steers.  In a very short time, Cutter had collected the cattle and moved them up where we could see them.  He kept them bunched in a tight little group, moving constantly, and herded them into a smaller corral within the big one.  As soon as he was done, he ran over to the far corner of the corral and jumped into the water trough!  Bill told us later that was what he’d learned to do to cool off.  Herding cattle is hard work!
Then Bill brought out a younger dog who hadn’t yet been trained to herd—he wanted us to see how much of what the dogs do is instinct.  He managed to do exactly as he was directed.  It took a little longer, and he was a little sloppy, but he still got the steers into the corral.  Really impressive.
 Another thing they do at Rancho Oso is train yearling bulls for rodeo.  One of the wranglers had been a rodeo rider and he was now breeding bulls for rodeo.  He’d come up with a special way to train them on how to buck, which is what makes a good rodeo bull.  He has invented a contraption that gives the young bulls the basic idea of  having something on their backs, but then rewards them when they buck.  He starts with an electronic thingie (technical term I just made up) which he pads and then covers with leather.  That gets strapped onto the bull’s back—and as soon as the bull starts bucking, he pushes a remote that releases the magnets holding the leather box on the bull’s back.  The bull learns that if he bucks, the thing on his back goes away.  As they progress through the training, they put the electronic thingie into teddy bears, advancing in size along with the training.  And to make it more fun, they dress up the bears in cowboy togs, which helps the bulls learn that the thing up on their backs is going to flop around a lot.

 Bill invited us to move from the bleachers into the larger corral so we could see better.  “Stand back a little and don’t lean on the fence though.  A bull can weight 800-1000 pounds, and can shove the fence out if he makes a run at it.”  The wrangler was up by the chute, and once the bull was locked into place, he buckled the box onto the bull’s back.  Bill was out in the inside corral helping—and then staying out of the way until the bull was ready to be guided back into the holding pen.
They started with a bull who had never done it before.  At first he lay down in the chute, so they had to get him back on his feet.  Once he got the idea he kicked up his heels, and the wrangler immediately hit the remote and the leather box fell off.  It was really cool!
Then they brought out a bull who had been in training for awhile.  He got a medium sized teddy bear, complete with cowboy hat and chaps.  This guy is going to be a rodeo star—as soon as the gate was opened, he came out bucking!  Zap, that bear was gone! 
Bill explained everything that was going on, and gave us each bull’s name and talked about his experience and sometimes lineage.  We were hanging right there by the fence so we could ask as many questions as we wanted.  It was a unique experience and I loved it! 

I'd definitely go back to this resort.

Link to more pictures at Rancho Oso 

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