My First Branding
Five years ago, I drug my first calf to the fire. He was a charolais-cross bull that was kicking, bawling, and putting on a show. Looking back, it was not the smartest “first calf” but easy has never been my goal. I built to him, threw my trap, and legged up.
Now, I was lost, unsure of where to go or what to do. This was the first time I had been to a branding that used a technique called an Oregon-switch, meaning the heeler drags to the fire instead of the header. Luckily, I was not alone.
JR, our friend and the ranch owner, knew it was my first-time roping. He quietly took his dad and another older gentleman aside before we began, asking them to help me. JR let me know he was going to do this and introduced the other men to me. One of the gentleman headed that first calf I heeled, the other, came in to talk me through dragging it to the fire.
During this branding, I made every mistake possible. I caught my glove in my dallies, my horse tried spinning us into the rope, and my coils were wrapped around my right hand when we let a calf up. I was the definition of a wreck waiting to happen. One of these two gentleman were always there to coach me. I survived and though shaken by the numerous close calls, I wanted more.
It would be three years before I would get to rope again. Many people have shared their wisdom and taught me more techniques. More than once though, I have thought back to the kindness shown in my first branding.
What if no one had helped me?
What if I was chastised and pulled off my horse after the first mistake?
What if I had caused a wreck?
I was thankful for the opportunity and it has really shaped how I treat folks that are new to the branding trap. It has kept me humble in learning more and adapting to new crews and styles. On the worst days, it reminds me how far I have come. Mostly though, it has kept me hungry to learn more.
Here is to kindness and being hungry to learn more.
Photos by Diana Davis, thanks friend ♡