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Spring Cattle Branding | The Cowboy Way

Jeff Gore

Howdy friends,
May is here, the year is one fourth of the way over and another great yearly tradition in ranch country has begun; Spring branding! This month, all over the western states, from south Texas to the far northwest, some ranches will take out the wagon as they’ve done for well over a hundred years and a crew of Cowboys will live out of bedrolls and tipis for anywhere from a week to a couple of months. They will catch mounts for the day and ride out to gather a pasture of cattle so that the babies born earlier this year can be doctored, marked, and branded. For some of the cowboys, or buckaroos as they like to be called in the northwest, (a transliteration of the Spanish word vaquero pronounced bah-kar-oh), it is a time to see if the training on a young horse over the last couple of months has paid off. Horses are often started as early as two years of age now but in the old vaquero tradition, and still today in some parts, a horse is started much later, about four or five. It begins in a hackamore or bosal, a rawhide braided band around his nose with a long rope called a mecate’ tied in such a way as to make reins and lead rope, until a good handle on the horse is achieved. At that point which can take up to three or four years, he is slowly trained into using a bit in his mouth by first, hanging the bit in his mouth from a bridle but with no reins just to get used to the weight with the hackamore still being in use. Then after a while, light reins are attached to the bit but this is where the two rein stage comes in. Both the bit and the bosal are used to train the horse an even more subtle feel.  Eventually, again, after years, he is slowly weaned off the bosal and into the bit entirely and at that point is called, “straight up in the bridle”. Now, to some, this seems a painstaking task to take years??? to accomplish. But, to the true horseman, it is well worth it. If a horse is taken young and fresh and a saddle is thrown on his back and just ridden until he quits bucking, then “rode hard and put up wet”, he will get the job done but reluctantly. That may go on forever. But if slowly and methodically we gain his trust, and we are patient, it will pay off, even if it takes a long, long time. God’s Word says in Philippians 1:6,  “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
If you want to be a good horseman, a “real” horseman, you will put in the work and be patient. That is the mind and heart God has for us. To Him, it is worth it. To Him, we are worth it. He who started a good work in you will do what it takes to complete that work. Trust God. Follow His plan and be as patient for Him to work it in you as He is patient with us!

Thanks for reading!
Jeff Gore