IRON BRANDING | HORSE AND CATTLE

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The Old -time rancher who first said put’er  on neat, boys he’ll wear it all his life has been forgotten in history, but hi words live on. Another bit of range wisdom dealing specificaly with horse branding is brand ’em neat and small. From these expressions you can reality see that branding horses is more of an art than branding calves. Ranchers who use the same brand on horses and cattle generally have smaller, thinner irons made up for their hores. The thinner hide of the horse, combined with finer hair, will make a good brand stick with much less pressure and much less pressure and much less hot surface of the iron. Many ranchers have a separate brand for their horses and cattle. Like cattle brands can be placed in many different locations on horses – the most common being stifle, hip, shoulder, neck and jaw. The left side has general preference dating back to the early days. A man saddle and mounted from the left side of the horse, and this considerably weakened his excuse if he said he “dint’t notice the horse was branded”. The same precauction, only more so, are taken into consideration when designing a horse brand as when designing a cattle brand. Sharp, closedangles and  small, enclosed areas are to be avoided, since such think cause uneven, heating resulting in blotched brands, raw brand, or  uneven brands. On long-haired horse it is good idea to clip the hair from the area where the brand is to be applied-It is much easier to tell when you have burned the brand to the proper depth, and you don’t end up with hair brands which dissapear as the hair begins to growback. Long hair also may flame up, or give off axcessive acrid smoke, which may further startle young horses. The old-time method of earing a horse down, and biting on his ears to take his mind off the branding iron, is disappering.

What little was gained  in taking his mind off the hot iron was frequently lost in another way – contributing to making the horse headshy, and sometimes even resulting in droopy-ear. Tieing up a hind foot is a common method of readying the horse for a brand, using a heavy, soft cotton rope, or taking other precaution, so as not to rope-burn the horse’s heel or fetlock. Some people just use a twitch, although this doesen’t satistactorily prevent a skittish horse from jumping at the touch of the iron. A one-iron, one application brand is the easiest to put on – and many horses never even know the brands has been put on. The term Branding iron is trifle misleanding, too, since some of the neatest horse brands are made and applied with a heavy-gauge wire. I’ve made a number of them from coat hangers; and a little work with the pliers can turn out some pretty intricate brands. The handles only need to be about 8 oe 10 inches long, and warpped with several layers of black tape. Not long a go, Howard Barber, who works at The Western Horseman showed me a little trck thet worked to perfection. Howard says it’s an old one, but I’d never run acros it before. We were all set to put the brand on a 16-month-old filly when we discovered the cotton rope was missing. Howard stood at the rear of the filly, reised her tail straight up over er rump, and George Burke stood at her head holding her halter. My pony tracks is a one-iron brand, but made with three application. The filly took all three application without a jump or a quiver, and the brand was on before she knew it. An unsightly brand on a horse can certainly detract from is apparance. As to whether any brand on a horse adds to or detract fron the apparance of a horse is a metter of oppinon; but, if a horse is to be branded, a clean, neat brand is appreciated by any horseman. If you ever put a brand on a horse, just before you apply the iron, keep  in mind the words- Put ‘er or neat, he’ll wear it all his life!