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Beef on the Line

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N°41

YETI presents

Beef on the Line

Matt

Matt

Cohen

Vaquero-style ranch roping is not a speed game. No chute. No spring-loaded gate. Efficiency matters, but judges look for mastery. Horsemanship in the service of working cattle. At the Brannaman Pro-Am Vaquero Roping in California’s Santa Ynez Valley—the year’s richest ranch-roping competition—teams of three riders get four minutes to hold herd and rope a calf. In those four minutes, as the dust boils and loops fly, centuries of tradition unfold.

Reata Brannaman is the future of the vaquero tradition. A crowd favorite at the annual event she and her father, Buck, co-founded, she enters the pen atop her bay roan quarter horse, Ray, and zeroes in on her team’s designated steer. As calves peel off one by one, she swings a long loop over her shoulder. The caller’s voice crackles over loudspeakers: “Reata’s locked and loaded. Looks like she’s going to throw a Houlihan.” Her calf bolts, and Reata fires. The loop arcs, wavering like a smoke ring. It falls around the steer’s head, and Reata gets her slack and stacks dallies on her saddle horn.

“Reata’s got beef on the line!”

Matt

Matt

Cohen

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Beef on the Line

The Brannaman family keeps the vaquero tradition alive over three days of long ropes and fancy loops.
Ranch & Rodeo
Brannaman

Photography by Matt Cohen and written by Logan Ward

Vaquero-style ranch roping is not a speed game. No chute. No spring-loaded gate. Efficiency matters, but judges look for mastery. Horsemanship in the service of working cattle. At the Brannaman Pro-Am Vaquero Roping in California’s Santa Ynez Valley—the year’s richest ranch-roping competition—teams of three riders get four minutes to hold herd and rope a calf. In those four minutes, as the dust boils and loops fly, centuries of tradition unfold.

Reata Brannaman is the future of the vaquero tradition. A crowd favorite at the annual event she and her father, Buck, co-founded, she enters the pen atop her bay roan quarter horse, Ray, and zeroes in on her team’s designated steer. As calves peel off one by one, she swings a long loop over her shoulder. The caller’s voice crackles over loudspeakers: “Reata’s locked and loaded. Looks like she’s going to throw a Houlihan.” Her calf bolts, and Reata fires. The loop arcs, wavering like a smoke ring. It falls around the steer’s head, and Reata gets her slack and stacks dallies on her saddle horn.

“Reata’s got beef on the line!”

Photographs by Matt Cohen. Written by Logan Ward. Logan is a journalist and author living in Virginia. He writes for Outside, Garden & Gun and other magazines. His memoir, See You in a Hundred Years, chronicles his family’s immersion into 1900-era farm life in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The Chinese-language edition is titled We’re Not Crazy: Let’s Go Live in 1900!

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