Thursday, 25 November 2010

The search for the missing Bizerros

Me trying to get Daniel used to the pony... Honest..
After an unsuccessful morning trying to get Daniel used to riding his pony (it didn't work, he's a mechanic at heart and loves the tractor) Cristina's dad Carlinho saddled up a horse and told me to get on the pony as we were to go and look for bizerros. I hadn't ridden a pony before, but having ridden horses a few times thought that it couldn't be too different. I did look like a bit of a prat however as the pictures testify.

We set off at a slow pace exiting the main part of the farm and crossing through a stream at the bottom of the horses' paddock. We climbed the steep bank on the other side and started to patrol the field with Carlinho looking left and right in search for the bizerros and me taking in the scenery. Once again I had left my new glasses at home in fear of them getting scratched or broken. I wasn't too sure how much help I was going to be on this trip. I was ill-equipped and unprotected from the sun at its highest – I was going to burn and I knew it.

Once we hit the open field, it became apparent to me that riding the pony may not have been the wisest choice. For those of you unaware a horse has much longer legs then a pony and as such for every one step a horse takes a pony has to take two or three. Therefore my pony was permanently at a canter trying to keep up with the horse. Add this to the lack of padding on the saddle and you can imagine that after a short while my behind was a bit sore and I my fist clenched from having to pull hard on the reins to keep the pony in check. This obviously led to a rather amusing sight of me stopping, starting, cantering, walking, and bopping up and down on the saddle. It appeared as though my plight hadn't gone unnoticed as Carlinho pulled over (if you can do such a thing on a horse) and offered to exchange vehicles. I gratefully accepted his offer and climbed aboard the nicely padded horse saddle. With Carlinho now leading on the pony and me following behind on the horse it was much easier for me to keep up.

Now I have to be honest that my Portuguese isn't that great, and although I'd picked up that we were searching for bizerros, I hadn't quite figured out what a 'bizerro' was. I enquired to a perplexed Carlinho (we'd already been searching for a good half an hour) what exactly we were searching for to which he replied 'bizerros' to which I replied 'yes I know, but what is a bizerro?'. After a puzzled expression in which he was obviously trying to find the most basic words for me to understand, he said 'a baby cow'. Now you may have thought that this was obvious being that it was a dairy farm and they only kept one sort of animal there, but logic has never been my strong point.

We carried on for another 15 minutes until we hit a wide river. Carlinho trekked down on his pony managing to get it to navigate the steep bank and cross through the water over to the other side. While he was doing this I was still trying to get my stubborn horse to go down the same path. No matter how many times I dug my heels into it's hindquarters it wouldn't budge. It kept on flicking its ears back at me in what seemed like anger. Carlinho was over the other side chuckling to himself muttering words of encouragement (I assumed). After what seemed like ten minutes of inertia on horseback I slammed it into reverse (pulled back hard on its reigns) and found a different route down the riverbank eventually making my way across to the other bank. Once there, after two minutes of searching this narrow stretch of land Carlinho decided that the calves were definitely not there. Much to his amusement we headed back to the river and I had to endure another attempt at getting my stubborn horse to go down the river bank.

An hour passed until we found the calves, and at this point I was truly burnt red. There were five of them all huddled together next to the fence. Carlinho indicated to me that he would open the nearest colchete (gate) which led to the the main grazing fields, and stay by it whilst I chased the bizerros towards it. With him standing there the calves wouldn't run past him and would have to pass through it. Now, despite my earlier apparent lack of skills driving a horse, I'm not atrocious. I mean I'm not amazing, but I have rounded up cattle on horseback at a fair pace before. So I circled round behind the calves and started to push them back towards the open gate. The sight of the horse, and me shouting and making lots of noise (they don't like that) urged them forward and they bolted. I had to steer the horse from left to right to make sure none of them broke lose from their little herd. I managed this successfully and got four through the gate, the last calf saw Carlinho and turned at a right angle and ran in the opposite direction. We both pushed our horses fast up the hill and moved the calf back through the colchete before closing it behind us. At a slow pace we then chased the calves all the way back to the milking pens and their mothers' comforting moos.

Our work done we headed to the farmhouse for a refreshing drink of water (you'll be grateful to see that there is no mention of alcohol in this post!) and some shooting practice as I was to get ready to help kill a bull over the next couple of days...


  1. the picture of you, Daniel and that poor pony is awesome!

  2. Yes... Cristina was very proud of herself when she started snapping that one. There're a whole series of them... I was unfortunately unable to stop her.