Support BladeForums! Paid memberships don't see ads! Its been a while since I've done one of my cowboying threads. Lots of leather work to be seen here, not only mine but others too. Here ya'll get to see stuff really being used in the work of making that steak that ya had last night and that roll of leather ya got sitting on the shelf ready to make your next sheath out of. Recently we took five days off and travelled up north to help a friend on a ranch he is running now. Mike is a well know bit and spur maker but is also now running this ranch. Its about a seven hour drive north from here in Tehachapi. So we loaded up the horses and our friends Stan and Janine and hit the road. Rolled into Mike's place (about 15 20 mins from the ranch) in time for dinner. The next two days we helped gathered some very steep and treacherous but absolutely gorgeous terrain. Having just taken over, Mike wasn't sure how many cattle are on the ranch, so we were trying to gather completely. We were not quite successful in that deal but we gave it heck making several circles driving the cattle to the "bull pasture" where they were held pending the branding. The third day we went up to the bull pasture to bring the cattle down to the corrals for the branding/processing. The bull pasture is about a 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the corrals and we had to take the cattle down a steep switch back road and then pop em off the side at the right spot and take em to the corrals. This in and of itself was quite an adventure and we got er done, only loosing a few head that turned back and we couldn't get too and fortunately we didn't need those ones anyhoo. Our pictures were all taken after we arrived at the corrals by our friend Janine. She is recovering from a major surgery and wasn't able to yet join us horseback. Sit back grab your coffee and lets go for a ride. Giving the horses a breather after coming down the mountain with the cattle. Here I'm holding Purgatory for Stan. My horse Sonny the Battleship is hobbled on the right. Nichole's horse Josie is hobbled in the background. Hobbling is putting a strap around the front feet of a well trained ranch horse to keep em in one spot for a while. Stan had forgotten his hobbles and was off grabbing some coffee. I've bout got mine drunk. We made my charmitas leggings and the silk wildrag (scarf) I'm wearing, as well as my water buffalo belt and the Stainless Gordo knife and sheath. In these pics Mike made the bit I'm using on Sonny and the spurs that Nichole is wearing. Our cowboss Mike sorting out the "drys", these are the cows with out calves. Nichole (my wife and partner in Horsewright) bringing out some of the drys. We made her wildrag, wool vest, charmitas leggings, spurstraps and the headstall holding the bit in Josie's mouth. Got all the sorting done and its time to rope. Made Nichole's knife and sheath too. Josie is in what we call the two rein here. Notice that there are actually two sets of reins on her that Nichole is holding. This is the final step in our California system of making a finished horse. Josie has been in the two rein for about a year now. No hurry, probably another six months or so and she'll be "straight up in the bridle". There were some pretty darn big calves in this group that we were doing. So we were trying to get the bigger ones first while the horses and our ground crew were fresh. Normally you want to brand calves when they are about 300 lbs or so give or take, usually a little smaller. We had bull calves 600 lbs plus and one heifer that was every bit of 800 lbs. But we got em done. Sonny's nickname is Battleship for a reason. Nichole has the front end of this one and I've got the back end while the ground crew is working. With these bigger calves its easier on the calf, easier on the horses and easier on the ground crew to also rope the front legs. So if ya look close there's another rope going to the head of the calf that is slack. After Nichole roped the front feet the head rope became redundant. However the header will standby with the headrope still on, just in case. Just in case happened once or twice this day. Thats our new friends Adam on the calf and his girlfriend Jessie with the shots. They were both ground working machines. Mike stepping over to brand and castrate this calf. He has one of my Castrator knives in one of my Boot Sheaths clipped to his belt. Interesting my Tapadero model is named after Mike. His nickname is Tapadero and he drew out the perfect branding knife for me in the dirt one time years ago and that became my Tapadero knife in damascus and the Sonoran Belt Knife in stainless. This ranch does not ear mark their cattle so the pointy Tapadero is not needed and the blunt nosed Castrator works well and certainly can be safer in the hustle and bustle of a branding. That is Stan on Purgatory on the heels and our new friend Lisa on the front end. We made Stan's wildrag and his shotgun chaps. Nichole taking a shot. I'm swinging a hoolihan as back up in case she misses. We sure didn't very much, it was just one of those days. Usually she'll rope good and I'll suck or I'm roping good and she's off but this day we were both on our game. Didn't miss very often at all. If ya look close on my right hip ya can also see one of our pancake style holsters, this one for a Glock 43. Made both our spur straps too. Sometimes ya can get into what we call "live action cowboy shi....". this is when a good horse can sure help out. One that is broke and quiet but also very responsive to the rein and spur. Also the reason for the small little fixed blades. I've cut three people out of wrecks. Hopefully one of your other ropers will come in and grab the heels and then we can get em worked. If ya look close the way I threw my heel loop, it has wrapped around both hind legs. Idea here being as the calf will move forward he steps into your loop and you got his heels. All the plans of mice and men.....even though that is a bout a good a heel shot as could be, didn't work that time. Still got out. Waiting for the ground crew to be done with one before I get another. In our style of roping the rope is wrapped or "dallied" around the saddle horn to slow and stop the calf. The saddle will have a horn wrap that is replaceable because it takes a lot of wear and tear of the rope sliding around it. This is another item we make, just a strip of heavy oiltan about 1.75" wide and 5/6 ft long or so. Our ropes are polyester and will get real warm when running around the horn. a roping glove like I'm wearing here is pretty normal to prevent rope burns. The "jigger boss" (second in command) Pat sticking the iron on. I've met Pat over the years here and there and he's a friend of my son's. Pat joined us a bout half way through to help with the load. he's roping here with a reata, 4 strands of braided rawhide. Ya have to be real careful as they aren't very strong, particularly with heavier cattle. He too is riding in the two rein and Mike made that Santa Barbara style spade bit. Mike castrating a big calf. and Adam is helping to keep it still. Ya'll notice that Pat, Mike, Stan, Nichole and myself are all wearing white shirts. Its kinda a cowboy uniform (I've got 9 in the closet). Interesting cause at a branding you are gonna get dirty, muddy, manured, bloody etc. But still white shirts are super common. Mike was doing all the cutting as the cowboss so he was pretty bloody by the end of the day. Stan and Purgatory and Nichole and Josie have another. Stan bought Purgatory off the huge ranch my son works on in AZ. Purg was ready to retire at 16 and didn't need to do those big 35-40 mile circles anymore but he's got lots of life yet for Stan. Big, stout, million dollar horse. Stan's roping has really progressed since he got Purg. In fact our ranch presented Stan with a "Most Improved Ranch Hand" trophy buckle last year. Stan and Purg coming in for the heels on this one. Got er done. Mike asked us to save a couple three little ones for Adam and Jessie to help with horseback. While they were pretty experienced ground crew neither had actually roped a calf in a branding before. He asked Nichole and I to stay "up" (horseback) and coach em some. He wanted me to head one and let them take heel shots. Here Jessie is getting her throw in. And she got er done! First time! Lisa is helping on the ground and thats Peg, Mike's wife giving the shots in the red plaid shirt. She's a nurse so she's pretty darn good at giving shots, most of her patients probably don't need to be restrained as much as these guys though. Nichole rode over so Josie could give Smoke, Jessie's horse some moral support. An experienced horse standing near like that will help a less experienced one to breath and be quiet. A great weekend plus Thursday and Monday trip. Hope ya enjoyed our cowboying. Any questions or comments are welcome.