Swift has just done his first job on the farm. About ten days ago I rode out over two separate days for short rides and at a ridden walk quietly moved some sheep around the fields. He seemed to like this which I found encouraging.
Since then over the last week he has been spotted from the house playing games by moving the two sheep who share his grazing around by walking, and occasionally trotting after them, making faces and generally calling the shots.
This week, I had to pick out a lamb to send tomorrow for an order for a restaurant for next week. As we still have no useful sheepdog I decided it was time to see if Swift and I could get quietly gather them to the gate to save time and effort. We went through the three fields to the far end to collect any stragglers and found a ram, on his own. Luckily for me the ram was more scared of us and after turning once to look at me and stamping his foot he scarpered off to find his ladies. So we gathered up the little group of stragglers and set off across the next empty field.
Swift gave a little squeal and mini jump half way across this field and I carefully calmed him back down not wanting him to do a bronc act or anything remotely risky. He settled once more and we very gradually at a sedate walking pace pushed all the sheep to the gate and then I rang Jethro [ the wonders of mobiles] to say time for reinforcements please and the gate to be opened.
At just the wrong moment a power walker, talking loudly on a mobile phone, went past the gate scattering the sheep and making them run, completely in the wrong direction. By this point, in order to save the day and actually get the sheep in, I decided I would risk a trot so we set off in pursuit of the scrambling sheep. I was very aware that a canter would be better from a strategic point of view but I am not yet too sure of our brakes [with the Dually halter] and I did not want to set off any sudden hi-jinks from Swift. Anyway at a steady trot we managed to get behind the sheep, turn them and bring them back to the gate.
Once on the road we had to trot down the lane to turn an escapee while avoiding the van that had also stopped. After this final dash I jumped off and led him from the ground to push the last few lambs in. Jethro was flapping his coat and everyone else was shouting and I felt that Swift had done really well and we needed to end on a good note.
We will see if he continues to play games with the sheep out in his field. He knows he can easily move the cow so we need to build his confidence with larger groups of cattle. He has got quite used to the cattle in the sheds, and even accepted the calves who were weaned from their mothers only 48 hours ago and despite eating barley and silage are still mooing for their Mums.