So it’s taken me a little while to pick June’s quadruped of the month, but we’ve got a lot of terrific candidates.  After much debate, however, I’ve decided on this beauty (we call her Rose):

 

Rose is new to the ranch, as of this year, and she has already been dubbed a favorite by many.

Rose is new to the ranch, as of this year, and she has already been dubbed a favorite by many.

 

Now Rose is a very interesting horse as she already has several brands on her (if you’ve ever been to the C Lazy U you’ll know that some of our horses have our brand on them too, but her’s are different)- take a closer look:

Rose has a clover brand on her rump

Rose has a clover brand on her rump

And a second brand on her shoulder

And a second brand on her shoulder

 

Why does she have so many brands, you might be wondering. Well, branding has been in practice for hundreds of thousands of year (even the ancient Egyptians did it), always as a way of marking livestock to make them easily identifiable, as often times, before the advent of barbed wire, for example, cattle were allowed to be free range, and many ranches grazed their cattle herds together. It also became more popular as the theft of livestock grew, as the brand offered an easy way to prove ownership of a missing animal. While in ancient Rome the brand was often a portion of a spell that they marked their livestock with to protect them from harm, brands now tend to signify the ranch or family name (the C Lazy U brand, for example dates back to the founding of the ranch under its current name, and is based on the path that our river took as it flowed through the property, forming a large “C” and a sideways, or lazy, “U” on the land). I’m not sure where Rose’s brands come from (they were inspected prior to her sale, however, to ensure the the selling party had proper paperwork to match each of the brands to an exchange), but you can be sure of one thing- her brands, like the ones at the C Lazy U, did not cause her any pain.

 

There are a few different methods of branding: hot branding is the historic method, and thus the kind that most people think of, but Rose, and the horses at the C Lazy U are branded by a new method called freeze branding. This difference is exactly what the name suggests: hot branding means sticking a branding iron into the fire until it glows red hot, and then pressing that brand against the hide of the animal, damaging that hide as it is done. Freeze branding is the act of getting that branding iron very cold, through the use of a chemical like dry ice, and then pressing it again the hide of the animal for just long enough to damage the pigment cells of the hair, so that the hair always grows in white, rather than colored, as you see is the case with the brands on Rose.

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3e/Branding_irons-Dutch_K%2C_c%2C_and_k.jpeg

Examples of hot branding irons

To apply a freeze brand, the brander shaves the hair where the brand is to be applied, and immediately before the cold brand is applied, the animal’s skin is rubbed with high proof rubbing alcohol. The brand is then only set against the hide for several seconds, long enough to damage the hair follicles (actual length of times depends on the breed of animal, type of metal used to create the brand, and color of the skin). Once removed the skin will appear swollen for several minutes, but will eventually reduce down, and the brand will be almost impossible to see for several days, until the dead skin starts flaking from the area. After a few months, the results of the permanent free brand will appear as the new white hair grows back.

Well, now that you know a little bit more about Rose, and what makes her unique in our herd, let’s give it up for her, our Quadruped of the Month for June!