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Posts Tagged ‘teamwork’

Boys to Men

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

I grew up listening to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, among other country legends, but I never did understand their song, “Mama’s Don’t let your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” Not because of the lyrics, but simply because of the title. I grew up around a bunch of ranchers and they were all good, hard-working, manly men.

As a proud mama of four boys, I want my boys to grow up to be good, hard-working, manly men, too. My husband and I encourage them to play outside, work with their hands, etc. as well as read great books. We place just as much emphasis on real life skills as academics.

So when cows need to be worked and calves need to be tagged for identification purposes, we don’t leave them home playing video games. They come out to the ranch truck with jeans, boots, and lariats. Our two youngest boys are now 7 and 6 years old. They asked my husband if they could ride horses with their older brother, Jake. He gave his permission.

What a beautiful sight! Watching my three youngest boys from 13 to 6 in age, push the entire herd up the alley and into the working pens on top of eager and alert horses. The cattle respect the horses and don’t try to charge past; however, the boys had to work them back and forth in order to keep the mass of cattle tight and traveling together.

I regretted the fact that I did not have a camera or even my phone on me to capture this moment in time. It would have been a cool photograph to share with you, but instead I tried to imprint the image in my mind.

My boys were not only commanding animals that outweigh them by hundreds of pounds or herding cattle exactly where they needed to go, but they were working together. As a team, they accomplished the job set before them.

There were two kinds of teams. The first was a team of brothers. Boys that spend a good portion of the day wrestling, arguing, and being rambunctious were being calm, helpful, and focused on the shared goal. Then there was the rider and horse teams. Isaac was riding Ladd, Andrew was riding Dolly, and Jake was riding his horse, Jack. Together they all worked as one team.

After the work was done hours later, I watched my two youngest trot their horses up a hill in belly-deep grass blowing gently in the breeze. They were taking care to see that their horses had an opportunity to drink from the water trough before trailering back to the home ranch. No one told them to; they knew what needed to be done to take care of their teammate, and they did it.

My husband and I are not perfect parents. We make mistakes all the time. Some of you reading this might think that this day was riddled with parental failures. You might think we are completely out of our minds to let our boys near cattle on horseback. Maybe its the country in us, but we don’t see it that way. It is not only a way of life. It is part of how we raise boys to men.

Real Cowboy Work

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Jake on the right riding Jack in the middle of the competition.

Jake on the right riding Jack in the middle of the competition.

At the 2013 Grimes County Fair, Jake DeHaven competed with two friends in team penning and team sorting events. Unlike speed events like barrel racing, these events are a test of true working cowboy skills on horseback. In fact, the event was created to enable cowboys to showcase their horsemanship skills. Because one of the boys on the team is sixteen years old, they had to compete in the senior division.

In team penning, the contestants are given a number announced over the loudspeaker as the time begins. The number corresponds to three calves in a herd of thirty. They are to sort the three calves out and pen them in a small pen at the opposite end of the arena. The fastest time wins. Deductions are made if any other calves cross the sorting line. It is harder to do than to describe in writing.

In team sorting, the contestants are also given a number as the time begins. It is similar to team penning, as they have to cut the calf with the said number out. Then they have to go in numerical order and cut out the remaining cattle. For example, if the judge called #5. Then they would remove #5 and then 1,2,3, and 4 in order. The fastest time wins with deductions given for mistakes in the order.

This was Jake’s first time to compete in either event. It was a joy to see him out there giving it his best effort. There are so many factors in a successful run. The cowboy has to be focused and paying attention. He/she has to have a reliable horse with cow sense. Together they make up one team. Then add two more riders and their horses and the teamwork needed increases.

We are proud of Jake and the other members of his team. They brought home the 3rd place prize in the Senior Division for both events. Regardless of the prize, they gained valuable experience that can only translate into better horsemanship skills on the ranch. At home or in the arena, Jake can do real cowboy work.

Annual Trail Ride

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

It has been a busy week here at Cross Creek Cattle Company.  We have had several customers come pick up their orders of grass fed beef.  It is always nice to visit face-to-face with people.  Many times we end up showing our first-time customers around the place before giving them their beef.  Almost always, especially for young girls, our horses draw attention away from the cows or anything else to see here.

Horses are beautiful creatures.  They move powerfully and gracefully.  Their size and weight far outmatch any rider, and yet they can be controlled with a tiny bit in their mouth and/or leg pressure.  Equine therapy has proven successful for people with injuries, disabilities, and even with the rehabilitation of prisoners.  There is something magical about the relationships between horse and rider.

Teamwork is one of the greatest lessons learned when working with or riding a horse.  You and the animal have to be in sync; together you move as one and work as one.  If you are not in sync with your partner, then it is obvious.  You fall off, your horse gets injured, etc.  We encourage our children to begin riding horses as soon as they can sit and obey our commands.  Learning about teamwork at a young age is important to us.  Children gain first-hand the knowledge that they are part of something bigger than themselves.  It takes the focus off of self, which is a key character trait missing in our society.

Just as important is taking care of the horse.  Feeding, watering, haying, grooming, mucking stalls, etc. are necessary elements of horsemanship.  Children learn responsibility as they care for the needs of another.  It is not all fun and games; some of the chores are downright humbling and nasty.  If you ask me, humble service is another great lesson learned from working with horses.

Cross Creek Cattle Company is a proud sponsor of the Grimes County Sheriff’s Jr. Deputy Mounted Posse.  Sheriff Don Sowell, Coordinator Sonya Floyd, and Drillmaster Lane DeHaven in addition to countless volunteers and parents work tirelessly as they encourage the youth of our county to promote horsemanship skills, leadership, and citizenship.  The youth gain even a deeper understanding of teamwork as they learn and perform routines on horseback.  Teamwork is no longer just between horse and rider, but extends to all the horses and riders on the team.  It is much more difficult to accomplish well.

The Posse is a fine organization, which welcomes any youth interested in joining.  We are always taking new members.  To kick off this new year, Cross Creek Cattle Company is happy to host the annual trail ride on our ranch.  It is a fun time of fellowship and food.  Of course, we have a trail ride.  This year Jake, Kyla, and Rheaghan, a fellow Posse member, charted the course of the trail.

Boy, are they adventurous! My husband had to make some easier/safer alterations to their proposed plan, but all-in-all it will be fun for the riders.  To make it interesting, we kept some logs laying in the path as obstacles for the horses.  We trimmed tree limbs so people’s hats won’t get knocked off.  The trail takes riders up and down creeks, which is always challenging for new riders and exhilarating for the experienced ones.  It will be a fun ride.

We are so blessed to get to live here on the ranch.  We get to enjoy daily what the ranch has to offer.  It is not always fun and games, but there are always life skills to be learned.  We are also happy to be able to host this event and allow others to see how much our ranch has to offer.

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