Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The most beautiful thing I ever saw

I'm just following in the sun. I have no idea what to expect, I'm sitting on Cochese just trying to look like I can ride. I'm so busy making connections with Cochese that I don't realise we've come across the cows we're supposed to move.

They lie in a gut below us, and need to move up to the gate way up ahead of them. Vicky's already stopped. She says something but I realise it is not to me, it is to her dogs, or her 'ladies' as she puts it. They've been running with us since we set off. A low hum from Vicky gets all the dogs around her, barking loudly. I don't know what's going on at this point, but find out later that the barking up tells the cattle it's time to move. The herd lift their heavy heads from the grass.

In a word she sends “Green”, one of her header dogs out from the pack and around the back of the cattle. Then “Ngaio” into the middle to get them moving. She speaks to Ngaio and Green as if they were only yards away, but in fact they are nearly 50 meters away, down in the gut. Miraculously they hear her commands, foreign to my ears. In between breaths, she whispers to the dogs at her feet, keeping them calm as the cows start heading off to the gate.

We walk parallel with the herd. I keep a distance as Vicky talks with her animals, handling five dogs and one horse, all at the same time with ease. I am stunned into complete silence, seeing the cows move as planned. We continue walking for a minute, then stop in a position where Vicky can talk the dogs into pushing the cattle through the gate.

As she works them through from the saddle of her horse, I feel overpowered by the experience. There's an incredible natural beauty here, something words can't even touch on. The animals moving steadily through the lie of the land emphasises an amazing connection between it all, and seeing Vicky doing it so naturally, with a skill beyond belief... it brings a tear to my eye.

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