“I’ll just get in the way,” I kept thinking.
But first, let me paint the scene for you.
If you’ve never been to a branding pen, it's somewhat chaotic. The pen is shaped like a bottle, and the calves are on the large end where six to eight horses slowly walk among the calves looking for a shot to rope both back feet. Once a calf’s heels are roped, it is pulled by the horse and rider to one of three or four Nordforks steaked to the ground; a group of three or four people on the ground work alongside each Nordfork. Someone will place this Nordfork along the calf's neck where it fits behind its head, keeping it secure while the horse and rider keep the rope taught, preventing the calf from kicking the ground crew while it is branded, vaccinated and castrated. Once finished, the Nordfork is removed, and the calf is pulled out of the branding pen through the narrow alley to be reunited with its mom. The alley is under guard by horse and rider or ground grew to ensure the calf doesn’t run back in.
[both photo credit to Countrified Photography & Designs]
From the sidelines watching the branding pen, there can be moments of flow and efficiency and then times of panic. When you rope a calf accidentally by one leg, head, or belly, it starts to beller and run wildly about while the rider tries to maintain control of the horse, calf, and the rope connecting the two. This scenario usually causes everyone to scatter, trying to avoid being trampled.
I’m not an avid roper. After my rope horse sustained a bad injury and had two daughters, I have barely swung a rope over the past five years, but I longed to be a part of the fun. My husband kept asking if I wanted to give it a try, but I kept declining.
I wasn’t worried about looking like an idiot, but I was concerned about being in the way. There were also many calves to get through, so with every throw I missed, I would prevent another horse and rider duo from catching, thus slowing down the day, I thought.
Have you ever felt this way?
Found yourself sitting on the sidelines just to stay out of the way?
Let others have all the fun because you might just mess it up.
Luckily, I’ve been working on my mindset for quite a bit, and while I didn’t work up the nerve to participate on the first day of branding, near the end of day two, I bravely asked my husband if he would ride alongside me to give me pointers on my roping and just advice in general. If you know me, asking for help isn’t easy– but it is something I’m working on, especially with my husband.
Working through these feelings took time! For a while, I avoided them lying to myself by coming up with excuses. “Brad deserves to do this more than me.” “Brad will be angry if he has to watch the kids.” “People will get mad if I’m too slow.” “I’ll just get in the way.”
Eventually, I had to feel my feelings to understand my fears and reasons for why I wasn’t participating, and then I had to validate them. My concern about being in the way, getting hurt or hurting someone else is highly valid! Having a healthy respect for safety doesn’t make me a coward.
However, I am also capable and worthy of participating. I lacked confidence in myself and my abilities, selling myself short. I am just as important as everyone else in that pen; everyone was missing shots and encouraging others to take their time. My happiness matters just as much as theirs.
I don’t want my kids to sit on the sidelines growing up. I don’t want my girls to sit back and out of the way, worried their team will lose if they participate. I want my daughters to bravely jump in even if they are the least talented in the group. I want them to know they are worth it.
In the end, I roped two calves! Hearing my husband cheer me on made me grin ear to ear and feel proud that I was brave enough to try. I am pleased that I am showing my girls how to be courageous.
My happiness matters. I deserve to participate. My dreams are valid. I am worth it.
And so are you.
Rise Up & Ride, my friends,