Story and Photography by Jennifer Denison
Tripp Townsend, owner and manager of Sandhill Cattle Company, a small feedlot operation in Earth, Texas, led his ranch-rodeo team, consisting of his 11-year-old daughter, Autumn; Efrain Corrales; Tyler Rice; and Jesse Valdez to their second Working Ranch Cowboys Association World Championship Ranch Rodeo win this past November in Amarillo, Texas. In addition to winning the overall championship, the Sandhill team also won the team-doctoring and ranch bronc-riding events.
For the Sandhill crew, ranch rodeo is a family event that just happens to correspond to their everyday lifestyle. Each of the six years the team has qualified for the WRCA world championships, they’ve almost always had one of the team members’ children on their team roster, including Townsend’s daughters Summer and Autumn, and Jesse’s son, Spur. The youngsters start out wielding the branding iron in the team-branding event.
“The kids help us all day long on weekends and during school breaks, so it’s only natural they’re part of the team,” Townsend says.
Both Townsend daughters also exhibit their horses in 4-H and hope to start showing in ranch-horse versatility competition.
“We practice on our horses while we’re doing our work,” Townsend says. “It’s hard to practice other disciplines, such as barrel racing and jumping, doing ranch work, but for what they want to do with their horses, working cattle in the wheat field is perfect practice.”
In the December issue of Western Horseman, Townsend explained how he and his ranch hands use everyday ranch work to prepare their horses for competition. Here, we give you a glimpse of Townsend’s kids working their horses on the ranch.