Sunday, April 21, 2024

Spring Training

As a kid I can remember Dad starting to wear his cowboy hat about a week before our annual 4th of July branding. Fond memory for me, but I'm sure it helped get his mind heading in the right direction. These days, brandings happen sooner in the spring, but the same preparation is necessary. 

To help me get in the game, I picked up a new straw hat. 

People often ask me what my hat of choice is. Any more, I'm a palm leaf guy. Durable, light, and weather nicely over time. Atwood makes the best palm leafs that I've found. They also have a real classy look to them. I pretty much stick to the cattleman's crease. 

Along with mental prep, comes polishing up your roping skills. Fr. Zane shot me these pics of practicing his loops over in Winner SD. He's got a nice fold up practice dummy that allows him to throw head and heal loops. A loop like that will catch a calf all day long. 

He's also a bit of a trickster. Not sure what you call this bad boy, but by draping your loop over a calf's hip you keep the trap door open. Well done. Looks like he had some help from Hank. 

Me on the other hand, I practice on my pickup. White Horse's mirrors make a nice target as I'm preparing for my next homily. 

One of the more useful pieces of advice I gotten in roping world is, your loop does what your hand did. Meaning, if you want to throw a flat loop, be intentional that your follow-through is flat as well. 

If you want to land a vertical heel shot, force your hand to do the same. 

Game changer. 

I'm about 9/10 on my mirror and about 1/20 on my mudflap. The curb and exhaust pipe don't help my odds, but ain't no shot in the branding pen without its obstacles. (Sorry for the cowboy lingo Mom, but this is serious business). A cowboy has to be ready. You never know when you're going to get the call to grab your horse and rope and enter the ring. When that time comes, you don't want to disappoint. The future of your cowboy career lies in your performance in the pen. You don't have to be in there long. But in the time you get, make darn sure every loop counts. Let the brandings begin!


  1. Boy it’s really green there. How is your red roan getting along?

  2. The fancy hip shot is called just that, a hip shot. I can't do it consistently, but it is fun to try something fancy every once in a while to mix it up. Nice article.
    Fr. Zane Pekron


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