Just a little trivia. For those who are familiar with western chaps but don't know they're purpose: they're used to protect a rider's legs while they're navigating their horse through brush and other tough terrain.
Before the branding, the cowboys get the colts and mares into one pen. All of the mares in this pen were bred by a single stud, and there were four sets of colts/mares that were worked. Each group was divided by the different stud horses that bred the mares.
A colt and mare anticipate going into the chute. The mare goes first, because in order to brand the colts the side of the chute must be opened.
A mare being de-wormed.
After the colt enters the shoot, it is necessary to restrain them before branding. Unlike cattle (excluding small calves), which can be worked by catching them in a headgate, horses are less hardy and narrower heads, so they must be restrained manually. This process does not hurt the colts. It's actually done to prevent the colts from hurting themselves during the branding.
That's not to say that every mare/colt takes it in stride. They can get spooked and rear up while in the chute
Two cowboys attempt to free a mare's foot when she reared up and got it caught in the chute's gate. Many gasps could be heard as the mare struggled to free herself.
Brands in the fire.
And the branding begins.
Bill Smith places the second of five brands on a colt.
Each colt is given several brands: on their rump, thigh, shoulder, and head.
A freshly branded colt.
After being branded, the colts rejoin their mothers in the large pen.
Unlike traditional branding, in which a heated branding iron seers the skin and hair of the animal, a freeze brand is applied by using a branding iron that has been chilled with a coolant such as liquid nitrogen. It actually damages the hair cells, causing them to grow white from then on. It is, however, more expensive, slower, and less predictable than traditional branding.
A variety of brands hang on a fence while mares graze in a pen.
Kent Moore from Oklahoma watches as the colts are branded in the chute and released to join their mothers.
The de-wormed mares and branded colts huddle together.
Jimbo Humpreys and Carson Horner sharing a laugh while waiting for the next mare and colt to come down the chute.
A mare is roped in order to trim its hooves.
Jimbo Humphreys helped throughout the day with the branding and moving of the colts and mares between pens.
Kim Lindsey is the director of the Texas Tech Equestrian Center. She is also a champion quarter horse exhibitor, having won first place at the 2013 Adequan Select American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Amarillo, TX. The horse that Lindsey won with was actually bred from Bill's stud, "Ten O Sea."
After all of the colts have been branded and the mares have been brought back to their pens, a cowboy rests under a tree in one of the pens.