I have been putting a video on Mondays but this week you are going to have to use your mind video.
I have known Tim Trabon for a long time and he has been on lots of great adventures all his life. He is very passionate horsemanship, Stockmanship and the western lifestyle.
I know you will enjoy this story he shared about the Haythorn branding he went on.
The first time that I went to the Haythorn branding, I showed up a couple of days early. I was afraid they would leave without me and I didn’t want to miss anything. That’s when I met Mike and in an attempt to be helpful I started following him around. Plus, he was the only guy there that would actually have a conversation with me.
He recognized what a gunsel I was and I think he humored himself by attempting to keep me from embarrassing myself too badly.
It became time for us to head out to camp and stow our saddles, tack and bedroll in a stock trailer. Craig Haythorn, whom I didn’t know very well came over to help me take my gear out of the truck. I was always so intimidated in his presence. He remains someone I have immense respect for and always hoped he might find a way to like me. I had been wearing tennis shoes for the 12 hour drive to Arthur. Craig picked them up and said ” are you gonna take these?” I was kind of embarrassed that he would discover I would wear tennis shoes. I furrowed my brow and in my deepest voice said ” No” and looked at those tennis shoes like it was the first time I’d ever seen them.
For the next 14 days I had to stumble around camp in my high heeled Blucher boots, almost impossible to walk around in while Craig padded around in the tennis shoes he had brought.
I had bought a one man cowboy teepee in anticipation of this branding and thrown it out in my pasture so it would look aged when I arrived at The Haythorn. My border collie found that it was a favored place for him to urinate. He must have eaten a whole bottle of vitamin C cause it was the brightest yellow stains ever. Looked like I was trying to create a tye dyed hippie teepee.
When we arrived at camp I rushed to put my teepee up. I had never been in the Sand Hills. The little 6 inch wooden tent stakes that had come with my outfit worked great as long as you didn’t try to use them to hold the teepee up. If you connected them to tent ropes they just kind of fell over. It was pitiful.
I was panicked. I imagined that I would just have to throw the canvas flat on the ground and crawl under it.
Mike had been watching me and walked over and pitched me some 18 inch steel spikes. He said ” you’re gonna need these”. He also noticed that in my gear I had brought two hats. One of them was a big ole buckaroo hat. He pointed at it and said, ” whatever you do, don’t wear that hat”. I chose to take his advice.
I never slept so well as I did in that teepee in the Sand Hills. Mikes cook fire usually cast a glow starting about 3:00 a.m. I would walk over to it and Mike always had a cup of coffee for me. We became good friends and he took it upon himself to guide me through the etiquette of being on a branding.
When I spoke to him last night I reminded him of the time I had put my plate on his table on the back of the Chuckwagon. I stood there and ate my dinner as it appeared to be the only space around. After everyone had drifted away he said, ” Don’t you EVER put anything on my table. If you do that to any other Chuckwagon cook you’ll find your food on the ground! And I had a mind to do it myself!”
Mike discovered that I was pretty nervous about the horses I was going to be given to ride and he took into teasing me every morning. He would say to Craig, ” What horse is Tim gonna ride?, does he still do that thing he used to do?”
Craig came up to me one night and asked how long I’d been there. I told him 4 days. He said ” you’ll be alright, Skunk hasn’t had a saddle in a month but he’ll be fine.” The next morning Craig cast his houlihan around a big stout black gelding that came out of the remuda with an ugly look on his face. Craig said, ” Saddle him up and let me get on him first, he hasn’t had a saddle in three months”. I said, ” Last night you told me it had been one month.” Craig ignored my comment and said ” better use this bit”. It was a big ole high port with long shanks.
I saddled up. Got on Skunk and followed Craig and everyone to a gate.
Craig said ,” I want 5 or 6 of you to go over that way and the rest come with me”.
I thought, well I’m going with Craig. Craig is older more mature, it’ll be better for me, easier ride, who knows what might happen if I head out with those young 20 year olds. Those 20 year olds trotted quietly away. Craig waited a moment, cracked his horse in the ass with his reins and took off hell bent for leather. Skunk just about jumped out from under me and we were off.
Everyone had gotten kind of spread out and I had tears streaming from my eyes as Skunk kept pace with the other horses. I thought I should check in with Skunk and picked up a rein. Skunk leaned into it and caught another gear. I thought ” uh oh” and checked him with the rein again. It just caused him to lean into it and go faster. I began passing everyone. They were looking at me as I went past them. I had tightened up and probably scared Skunk. I was on a runaway. As I rode past men I thought I detected a note of sympathy in their eyes. Craig was in the lead at a dead run headed up a hill and I was gaining on him. I knew never to ride in front of him and hoped that as I approached him Skunk would rate back and not pass him. Just as I came up behind Craig we crested a hill and my hat blew off. That’s all Skunk needed to rocket in front of Craig. Now I was headed down hill toward a large ditch. I thought, ” I’m gonna die”. I kept picking up my left rein and got Skunk angling away. Eventually I was running in the opposite direction of everyone. It was tough to make it look like it was intentional. Everyone went on and I got Skunk stopped but every time I turned the direction they’d all gone, Skunk did his best to catch up with them. By the time I had caught up with everyone Craig had stepped off his horse and was waiting for me. There was a hog wire fence behind him and I fully expected that it was the only thing that might stop me and Skunk and I was so rattled and out of breath that I didn’t care. Skunk surprised me with a reiners stop and Craig looked up and said, ” you’re kinda bouncing in the saddle Tim”
After all that, and after lunch, Skunk crow hopped around when I stepped on him, thinking about bucking me off.