There was the day I learned that halter breaking heifers is like raising kids. Or maybe raising kids is like halter breaking heifers. They are the same, and this story proves me right. We already had our kids when we bought the heifers for our boys to show in the county Livestock Show. Adding additional animals to for livestock showing is a little like raising kids. You add a few at a time, and you start all over with the new one even though you’ve been down this road so many times before.

There I was, standing inside an old, dilapidated building on our property.  In my hands I held one end of the rope. At the other end of the rope somewhere out there was one of the new heifers we purchased and brought to our place.

My job, Dave informed me, was to stay inside that building. He need not have worried. I had no desire to see the light of day with that wild heifer on the premises. I stayed in the building and hung onto the rope secured to an out-of-my-sight post.

The heifer was on the cattle trailer with a halter on her head. When she came off of that trailer, she would run so far before the rope tightened; she could not escape the yard. ‘Not exactly my idea of a fun way to spend a morning, I admit.


Dave’s plan worked, but not without horrific struggles. The heifers were new to our place and neither one was anxious to be out of the cattle trailer. We had no corral to put them in, so we had to wing it outside. Sometimes we have to do that with kids. That’s when breaking heifers is like raising kids.

The first heifer (Abigail) came out of the cattle trailer, determined to get as far away from us as she could. She ran, pulling on the rope attached to her halter. She wound the rope around the wash line post and pulled so hard that the post came out of the ground.  For a moment, I thought the entire eight washlines were going to come crashing down.

Next, she charged at Dave, who was moved away from her as fast as he could. She butted her head against Dave’s bottom as he ran away from her. In spite of my worries, I laughed out loud. I could tell Dave wasn’t worried.  Abigail could have knocked him over, but instead she just butted her head at him. He knew then that she was a keeper.

Two hours. It took us two hours, but we finally managed to get both Abigail and Sunrise out of the trailer and into a pen. Had it been up to me, I would have given up before we hardly started, because the job seemed insurmountable.

Don’t quit – because halter breaking heifers is like raising kids

I wondered if we were insane, but Dave wasn’t concerned. He knew about cattle and he knew that, in time, they could be halter-trained. I shook my head (on the inside) but knew better than to let Dave see. As it turns out, he was right. He usually is.

We had a few mishaps along the way, and it’s a wonder none of us was seriously injured. One morning before school, Dave was out in the pasture leading both heifers. With the ends of their halters tied together, he could walk between them and lead both at the same time. As he walked along, talking to them and teaching them to listen to his touch on their halters, something spooked the heifers. They bolted into a run. The rope looped around Dave’s foot pulling him to the ground; instantly he was drug along the ground behind them. Fortunately, they stopped running when they reached the fence surrounding the pasture.

Dave freed himself and struggled to his feet while a passing motorist who witnessed the episode  stopped to see if he was okay. Except for being mighty sore, he was fine. He could have broken some ribs or a leg – or been killed.

halter breaking heifers is like raising kidspay day will come – ‘CAUSE halter breaking heifers is like raising kids

It took so much time to work with these heifers. Our boys got their fair share of hoof kicks as they trained their animals. Yet, come Livestock-Show time, one would guess the struggles behind those well-behaved heifers.  Gentle and docile, they performed well enough to give their owner-boys showmanship ribbons.

Months later, an uncle was amazed at how readily Sunrise followed his lead. He placed a halter on her and she followed him to a small fenced-in area to give birth to her first calf. Those weeks of training paid off and she lived on our farm for many years, still feisty but obedient.

It didn’t happen overnight. To think it started that day in the back yard when Dave wouldn’t give up or give in! I got to be a part of that because he enlisted my help and insisted I could do this.

Breaking heifers is like raising kids. If we want our kids to be winners when it matters, we have to start at the beginning.  It takes a team effort, and both parents have to be on board.

It means not giving up when we’re tired – or afraid. Raising kids includes keeping on for the long haul, every single day.

pinterest halter breaking heifers is like raising kids


This is a repost from eight years ago; I am putting it into two parts. Part 2 will be posted next Friday.

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