These 2 pictures were taken at the Parke family branding the spring of 2004 in Carey Idaho. It could possibly be 2003 but I’m betting it was 2004.
I was flying for Lee Swain out of Davenport Washington that spring so was not in attendance but these photo’s illustrate a very good point in regards to raising a family. What your children learn early in life will likely stay with them their entire lives. If they grow up riding and roping there is a good chance that they will be able to come home and step up on a horse and make a good showing of their-selves at a branding, riding and roping.
Kole and Kamron proved this very well this past year; June of 2018 to be exact.
Kole had just finished his first year of residency at San Antonio, TX, Fort Sam Houston and Kamron was on his way to Alabama to start flight school and both, along with their families were able to spend some time at home in Idaho.
We had an invitation to brand with the Flat Top out of Carey Idaho, so gathering 4 horses and 3 of my son’s we were off early on a June morning. Scott my second oldest son would rather get fired than miss a branding but getting fired wasn’t necessary as he had the day off. So the four of us with wild eyed, snorty and bronco horses loaded for a 3 hour trailer ride headed out for a long day. It was a great day and my son’s along with the horses that we have raised and trained ourselves made a good showing all around. Two of the 4 horses that we had in tow are out of John Lacey’s, Wranglers Starlight stud and are hot but great to use; you seriously need to be ‘game on’ when it comes to riding them though.
Living in Southwest Idaho, Scott and I usually make 3 or 4 brandings each spring so we get to practice our cowboy skills each year. I’m not sure when Kam and Kole had roped last but they roped like it had just been the day before.
Kam joined the Army in February of 2010 and Kole has been in Phoenix attending medical School for the previous several years. As they learned their cowboy skills early in life, I’m betting that they will retain those skills throughout their lives. It isn’t just that they were raised around horses and cattle but that they loved it.; it has always been a huge passion for them.
All 3 of these boys of mine rode professionally for Dee Craig at one time or another, so they were introduced to some pretty high dollar horses as teenagers. Scott might have been a young, married adult when he rode for Dee but Kole and Kam were teenagers. I’m Pretty sure that Scott started a horse for Dee called Carlos and Dee won the limited open on the horse at Reno around 2003.
Good horses make good trainers and great horses make even better trainers. Bad horses make you a better horseman and you appreciate the good ones even more but just because a horse doesn’t naturally ‘tow the line’ doesn’t make him or her and outlaw. After all if a horse is smart enough not to get rode, that doesn’t exactly make him stupid; maybe not real usable but not stupid by any means
When we left Montana December of 1982 I made a cannon-ball run down to Battle Mountain NV to interview for a job there. We were living on the old Briggs place at Kid Montana so it was hit and miss whether the roads would hold for me. I liked the general manager, Dale Robertson, same name as the actor, and his wife and everything about the job but the housing. I decided not to move my family there and passed on the job. I would spend the next 5 or 6 years throwing all of my time and effort into becoming a professional pilot. I wasn’t able to ‘cowboy’ much over the next few years but always seamed to have a colt or two around that I was riding for someone.
In March of 1989 we moved to Mountain Home, Idaho and have been here sense.
Like all things cowboy skills are in the class if you ‘don’t use it, you lose it’. After we landed in Mountain Home, no pun intended, as a family we were able to run a small herd of horses as well as a small herd of range cows. I continued to start colts and eventually would show in the reined Cow Horse shows in Idaho and Utah.
No matter what I am doing with a horse either trail riding with my bride or hunting or roping and sorting my heart always goes back to my basic cowboy skills and heritage; a good horse is never so much fun as when you have a critter in front of it, or behind it tethered to a rope heading to the branding fire. I’m a Great Basin Roper and tying off is foreign to me unless I’m stepping off to doctor an animal and a rope under 60 foot doesn’t have much value to me.
Although in my round pen I do prefer something in the 35 or 40 foot length. My round pen is only 40 foot across and extra rope doesn’t always work well there. The sides are over 6 1’2 foot and six to seven poles counting top poles. The Wickahoney colts that we started for JR Simplot in the mid to late 90’s could clear a 5 foot panel like it was a chunk of sagebrush. The 40 foot diameter kept them from building up too much steam trying to get out. Several tried though and I was always glad for the structure of my round pen. Minimize their first defense, ‘flight’ and go from there.
These last 3 pictures are of my son’s branding with the Flat Top last June. Kamron the youngest of the Brian and Joy Spaulding tribe, is on a mare we call Blue. She’s gotten out from underneath 3 of my 4 son’s, she is a working fool but she is also one you never take for granted. A 3 hour trailer ride helped get her mind straight before swinging a leg over her. We were in the saddle by 7;30 and finished at 4;30. Not a huge day but it was non stop for horses and cowboys. Gather, sort , brand and bring in a few to move to other pastures at the end the day.
Kole and Scott are mounted on a pair of half brothers named Kid Colt and Gambler. They are not as quirky or bronco as the 2 mares that Kam and I were using but working son-of-a-guns they are. Kid Colt has the bigger motor of the two but Gambler is one of the finest geldings I’ve ever raised and a horse that makes you look good even if you’re having a bad day; and if I’m branding I’m not having a bad day. Both geldings stand right at 16 hands and weigh in at just under 1200 pounds; the mares are 15, 1 or 2 and around 1150 pounds. All four horses fit in my category of, ‘Great Basin cow ponies’.
Mine and Kam’s mares are the half sister’s I referred to out of John Lacey’s, Wranglers Starlight horse. The horse placed 5th with Doug Wiliamson aboard him one year at the Worlds Greatest Horseman and 3rd the following year with John Roser aboard. PG Dry Fire placed 2nd that year just ahead of Wrangler and although I can’t recall who took first the competition is always stiff.
I haven’t worked full time as a cowboy other than day working and a few wintertime tours through JR’s feedlot at Grandview Idaho since leaving Montana, but I have kept my cowboy heritage close to my heart and rarely have passed up a chance to practice or polish my kills.
This particular day of branding rates right up there with ‘great days’ riding and roping. One of the ropers that day asked Kole when he last was at a branding, Kole replied ‘2 or 3 years ago’. The ropers response was awesome, ‘bullshit’; couldn’t have been a better compliment.
Riding and roping, a cowboys life.