How Halter-breaking Heifers is Like Raising Kids

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 had purchased and brought to our place.

My job, Dave informed me, was to stay inside that building (he needn’t have worried; I had no desire to see the light of day) and hang onto the rope which was secured to a post.

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

Dave’s plan worked, but not without some 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.

The first heifer 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 proceeded to pull hard enough that the post came out of the ground.  For a moment, I thought the entire eight lines were going to come crashing down.

Next, she charged at Dave, who was moving away from her as fast as he could.  She actually butted her head against Dave’s bottom as he ran away from her.  Dave said he wasn’t worried.  She 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 heifers out of the trailer and into a pen.

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.  He was right.

Tim with his first heifer and his sponsor, Dr. Ward

We had a few mishaps along  the way.  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 and they bolted into a run. The rope looped around Dave’s foot and instantly he was being dragged along the ground behind them. Fortunately, they stopped running when they reached the fence surrounding the pasture. As Dave freed himself and struggled to his feet, a motorist who had 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, for that matter.

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 never have guessed 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 when he led her from the pasture to a small fenced-in area as she was ready to give birth to her first calf.

It didn’t happen overnight.

To think it all started that day in the back yard when Dave wouldn’t give up or give in!

showing heifers – and raising kids – is exhausting

Raising kids is like that.

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 takes 4 Ps.  Persistence. Perseverance.  Patience. Prayer.

It takes halters and fences. [Don’t get bent out of shape; if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know what I mean.]


Recognizing that training takes time; not giving up when there’s a failure.


Keeping on and being dedicated to the task.


Pushing through when you’re spent and feel like giving in.


We all know what that means.  Getting wisdom from others who have walked this path and asking God for ideas is a guarantee for help in our parenting.

Don’t give up when it’s hard.

Don’t give in when you’re weary.

Keep tightening that halter and leading with the rope.  Keep the fences and stay focused.

It will be worth it when Show Day is here.





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