NTFR ranch rodeo

A cowboy from the Bonds Ranch team throws a loop in the team branding competition Monday night at the North Texas Fair and Rodeo.

Working ranch cowboys from across North Texas competed Monday night in the annual ranch rodeo held at the North Texas Fair and Rodeo. Ranch rodeo differs from regular rodeo in that it features events derived from everyday ranching chores or activities and offers the working cowboys a chance to showcase their skills and horsemanship.

Team branding simulates the branding held every spring on most ranches. One cowboy rides horseback into a herd of calves, ropes one and takes it back across a predetermined line where two other cowboys on foot remove the rope and lay the calf on its side. Another cowboy runs in with a branding iron dipped in chalk and “brands” the calf, and the clock is stopped for a time after this sequence of events repeats once more.

In team branding, Gainesville Livestock had the fastest time with 43.91 seconds, followed by the Sikes Ranch team with a 45.28, and Reding Ranch’s 46.48 was third.

Team doctoring is another event that directly emulates the roping and doctoring of a sick cow in the pasture, where there aren’t any pens or working chutes to use.

Four men on horseback ride after a cow or steer and rope both head and heels; then, two of the men dismount and begin tying three of the four legs to keep the animal from hurting itself or the cowboys while they administer medicine — in this case, simulated by a chalk mark on the forehead or something similar.

Teamwork and communication are critical in this event. Sikes Ranch took the early lead in 35.26 seconds, with the Fields Ranch team close behind with a 35.47. Porter Ranch’s 37.28 time rounded out the top three.

The maverick catch-in event is similar to team doctoring, mimicking the capture of a beef in the wrong pasture, roped for relocation. The Reding Ranch team took a gamble with their quick wrap leg tie and it paid off, with their 22.93-second time beating the next team by nearly 15 seconds. Ellis Ranch posted a 36.15 for second place, followed by the team from Sikes Ranch with a 37.40 for third.

Team sorting is an event with many variables, where horsemanship and communication are most on display. A herd of cattle has paper numbers glued to their sides. One rider must go into the herd and cut out and drive across the line the beef with the number called out to them by rodeo announcer Terry Starnes. Three other horseback cowboys must keep that animal across the line from returning to the herd, which is instinctual for cattle, and also keep the remaining cattle from crossing over as well.

This sequence of events continues numerically until four head have been crossed over successfully. The Bonds Ranch sorted their four cattle in 58.78 seconds for the win. Gainesville Livestock was second with a time of 109.06. Third place was the team from Reding Ranch with a 133.49

Ranch bronc riding was the final event of the evening. Always a crowd favorite, ranch bronc riding is similar to the saddle bronc riding event held in pro rodeo, except the rider must use a regular working saddle rather than the modified association saddle without a horn used in pro rodeo, and the rider may use both hands to try to stay aboard. Bonds Ranch posted an 82 for the win, with Reding Ranch taking second place with a score of 80. Third was the team from Ellis Ranch with a 78.

Overall, the Reding Ranch team took first place with 31 aggregate points. Second place was the Bonds Ranch team with 30, and third place was the Sikes Ranch crew with 28 total.

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