Well, all my whining and complaining paid off. I got to ride at a branding one week ago today!
You’ll recall that a couple of my recent blogs boasted about what a martyr I am because I spend so much time mommin’ and playing the role of picker-upper-of-the-pieces-of-my-husband’s-job that I hadn’t ridden a real horse (stick horses excluded) since Thanksgiving weekend. That’s right. Can you believe it? Nobody had taken the time for more than five months to ensure that I — the original PVer, the one who really knows what’s going on around here (*wink*) — had time to ride.
Then our friends, the Ogrens, invited us to help at their branding last week. Generally speaking, we at the PV do not help too many neighbors brand. It’s just that we have so many of our own calves to do (see 1st Day of Branding 2017 for numbers) that we really have to keep at it to get them all done.
Just so ya know, a PV branding is a bystander event if you’re not on the crew. And I was on the crew for many, many years — and for those years I’m thankful. Branding at the PV is all about rising at 3 a.m., working quickly and efficiently with the same folks you’ve been working with all branding season, always playing by safety rules, and often making a second circle after the branding to get ready for tomorrow. There are never more than two calves on the ground at a time. There is never a drop of alcohol. We don’t need to be silly to have fun! Hard work is fun! Pain is satisfying! My dad, the long-time cowboss around here, is a driven and serious man — and our days at the PV are very much influenced by his legacy.
Here at the PV, it’s real cowboy stuff. But it’s not exactly women-and-children friendly. At the PV, kids know to stay out of the way until they’re wrestling age, and when the cook shows up with lunch… well, the cookisthecookisthecook. It’s not like she’s gonna hop on somebody’s horse and drag a few calves to the fire just for the heck of it.
So I hadn’t ridden, much less roped, at a branding for three years before we went to the Ogrens’ to help last weekend. When they had extended the invitation to us — even suggesting that I (yes, I!) might be needed to rope — I reminded my dear sweet husband that I hadn’t ridden for five months. Then I decided to play the cunning, sly female and burden him with a little test: “It’s up to you,” I said. “If you make sure I have the opportunity to ride between now and then, just so I can make sure I remember how to ride, then I would love to go to the branding with you.”
As usual, Beau came through for me. He stayed home alone with the kids one night while I pushed heifers into the tub and alleyway for the AI crew.
Riding, of course, is like riding a bike. Especially when you’re riding your husband’s best horse.
So. You’re probably starting to understand why helping the neighbors is a bit of a vacation for us PVers. The morning of the Ogren branding, my mom came to our house to stay with the kids; Beau and I leisurely left home, towing the horse trailer, about a quarter to eight. We helped to gather a small pasture as Tiff Ogren’s dad led the cows into the corral with a bale of hay. We visited with friends the whole ride. We helped without the hindrance of worrying over whether the day would go well (that must be the glory of going to someone else’s branding; I’ve noticed most folks give themselves ulcers over their own branding but truly enjoy someone else’s).
I rode Beau’s top horse, Frosty. My dad actually owns Frosty. And… (drum roll)… the Ogrens let me rope. And Beau told me I did real good. (Photo by Tiff Ogren.)
Not bad for an Old Mom anyway. (I have a nasty bruise on my leg to prove that I roped. Either because of the way I dally, or Frosty’s height, or the shape of my saddle, the rope was continually popping and pinching my right leg when I roped last Saturday. I tried to take a picture of the bruise, intending to share it here, but then I decided there’s just no right way to take a picture of a bruise on one’s upper leg. So just use your imagination to picture how horrific it is.)
Later in the morning, my mom brought the kids to watch and to play with the other kids that were congregated. And after lunch we all returned to the house and ate a good lunch in the shade.
My friend Brittany Staley was there and took a couple good pictures of me which I am eager to share here because, for once, I am quite pleased with the way I look in the pictures:
I even managed to get my belt buckled that day. All around, I would say, a big day for me!
(I would like to take a quick little side road here to explain my friend situation; I’ve mentioned twice in this post that “my friend” took a picture of me. Sometimes, you’ll notice in my writing and in conversation, I will joke that I don’t have any friends. The truth is, I do have many friends — but, as I would guess most women do, I spend a certain amount of time wallowing in insecurities concerning the status of various relationships. As a result, there are days when I convince myself that I don’t have any friends. This problem dates all the way back to high school for me, when I used to tell my mom that I couldn’t go out with the other kids because I was a “friendless wretch” — when, in reality, I truly just wanted to stay home. Still today, it’s so easy for me to let small misunderstandings and silly assumptions and imagined words cloud any given friendship. Then come the days when I am reminded that I am part of some community, as in at the branding, when I realize that, by and large, most people are very glad that I’m alive. So much so that they would take my picture.)
A little ride, apparently, can go a long ways toward reminding a mom that she’s fully human.
Speaking of which, I think the boy and I get to help trail a few bulls out this morning! Gotta run the girls to Grandma’s house, and then… Back in the Saddle Part II!
© Tami Blake