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Monday, August 23, 2010

Ride’n for the Brand

The last couple of posts have been about the Civil War so let’s jump forward just a bit to the American west. There is a term used by western men which I believe is becoming a lost ideal in the world. When a western man said he was riding for the brand it meant something. But what does this truly mean?

The brand was the cattle outfit or ranch a man worked at. At its most basic level, the brand was a marking placed on cattle to identify the owner during the free range days of the westward expansion. Brands such as the Rocking K, B-Bar, and Running S were used as markers for the various ranches. But, in reality, the brand meant much more. It represented the men who worked the cattle and a code of honor.

To say you rode for the brand meant you supported it through thick and thin. You worked hard days and long nights, fought weather outlaws, and Indians. If a cow hand or the ranch came into trouble, the men who rode for the brand came to the defense. A pity to the man who went after a Flying T hand because when he turned around he was facing all the hands of the T. Just like a family, the hands might fight among themselves but would defend the ranch and each other to the end. You could also count on the men of the brand to help and protect your family when you were not around.

Today, we still have brands although we often don’t recognize them. Your brand may be your family name, or an organization you support. It is also may be your job. A man who stands behind the brand will not do things to damage the place he works or his family or jump ship to another firm doing the same thing for personal gain. What ever your choice is, when the brand is attacked you jump to its defense.

This is not true for all people. Some are weak of constitution and have no honor. These poor souls who shrink from a fight for self preservation or fear of standing alone have no place among men. What these folks must realize is that when you stand with the brand, you are never alone. I know that whenever trouble starts all the riders will come running. To choose to ride for the brand is tough. It is never the easy path but the rewards can be more than you hoped.

The next time someone asks you where you stand, tell them you “Ride for the Brand”

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