Cattle 101, Wilderness Trails, CO

It was time to cowgirl up at Wilderness Trails. One group had pushed about 15 cows from an upper meadow down to a paddock, so that we could all get acquainted. I have done a little cattle work before, of course, not on Aspen, and not playing some of the games that I was about to learn.

Our group of eight split into two groups of four for the first game. I was riding with a husband and wife couple from California and a Scottish man, who looks a little like Liam Neeson. We named our team Steer N Push and were ready to take on the other team, who had Tyler, a rodeo rider–your basic ringer.

For our first game, we had to move the herd around a series of neon cones in a figure eight pattern. Tyler, who was leading our afternoon cattle session, said that slow and steady worked best. He also suggested that we four form a figure eight to push the cattle and use the fences as another person.

So this game is harder than you may think and slow and steady is key. I kept yelling out strategies, as our group began the slow move. A couple of cows were more stubborn than others. Our team managed to make a couple of figure eights in a little under five minutes, laughing pretty hard along the way.

The next game consisted of cutting cattle in a sort of modified team penning. Now, I have recently ridden a championship cutting horse (see my cutting horse dream week experience), so felt that I may have had a slight leg up on the others. We had to separate a cow from the herd, open a gate on horseback, and get the cow into a paddock by himself. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t.

The white-faced steer that we attempted to separate had most likely played this game before, and he was not going in the paddock alone without a fight. Needless to say, our time was up before we were able to get him alone, but we had some fun chasing him up and down the paddock.

We ended the day with a cookout, cowboy singer and fun sing-a-long. It’s my last day in the great state of Colorado, which is sad, but what an adventure it has been.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Colorado episode and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including ranch vacations, at

Gabrielle Baker IHSA
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