Ride for the Brand
by Paul Harwitz
The dismounted young cowboy asked the old hand, "What does it mean when they say 'Ride for the brand'?" The grizzled old-timer's age seemed to drop years, And he sat straight up in the saddle as he surveyed the steers. "It means a lot of different things, son. It has a lot to do with what's lost and what's won. I ain't talking about gambling, but earning a living, Hard work, trust, respect, taking, and giving. "It means you don't never foul up the land, And you don't take unfair advantage or rob. You work hard, even when the work's rough as a cob. That's part of what it means to ride for the brand. "It means you help your neighbors and your friends, And you help even strangers just passing through. It means you hire on a hungry saddle-tramp Who needs a place to winter past the cold and damp. "It means you don't let the poor folks go hungry Just 'cause they're down and short on grub and luck. And it means that you don't work just for a buck, But 'cause you need work like water's needed by a tree. "It means you can be trusted, and that you trust each pard, To do the chores that are needed, no matter how hard, 'Cause you're all riding for the same outfit, And you're all striving together to benefit it. "It means you keep searching for that one last stray, Even though it's the end of the day, Even though you'd rather stop and go to town. It means you don't lay your responsibility down." "It means you give an honest day's work for an honest day's wage, Whether you're in the corral or out riding the range. Every job's important, and there ain't none that ain't. It's not the cowboy way to quit though it'd be easier to say 'I cain't.' "It means you'll not complain when you help dig a well, Nor even have to be asked to spell a tired cowpoke who's stove-up. It means you'll work with others as well as you'll work alone, And that even when you're tired to the bone, you'll cowboy-up. "That's what it means, that, and a whole lot more. It means that you've got pride in yourself, your job, and the land. So saddle-up. Toughen-up. Cowboy-up. Be a man. Ride for the brand."
Loyalty to your Outfit
I was raised in a Montana Ranch family. We carry a long tradition of upholding the tradition of "Riding For The Brand." As I've traveled the world and worked with people from many different countries, cultures and faiths, I've come to realize that this philosophy transcends geography, race, creed or color. Likewise, the LACK of it permeates every culture like the smell of a dead steer just over the hill...
Artist James Reynolds
Just what is "Riding For The Brand?" It's a lifestyle. First and foremost it means you are loyal to the Outfit you represent. That could mean the Company you work for, your Family name, your Club or your Faith. It's a commitment to live and conduct your business with the highest degree of integrity. It's treating others with respect even when you don't agree. Be kind, be generous and be fair. It means to stand up and fight for what is right, defend the weak and lend a hand where it is needed. It means to stand your ground and defend these principles. It means that wherever you go, you represent the Brand. What you do and say reflects directly on the Brand and you must always act accordingly.
“I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, I won't be laid a hand upon. I don't do these things to people and I require the same from them.” John Wayne ~ The Shootist
This philosophy was a major part of my upbringing. Worse than getting in trouble myself was shedding a negative light on the Brand. In the West, your reputation is everything. Though I always knew that, as a family, we went out of our way to help others, I was much older before I realized how that affected my own reputation in business. My husband and I have worked hard to maintain that reputation in our dealings. It has served us well.
Greed, Sloth and other Lily-Livered Vermin
No matter the business you are in, you'll run into some bad actors. It seems there is always at least one in every barrel. That ONE who doesn't pull their share. The one who slips in to take advantage while others are working with integrity. The one who has no problem lying and scheming their way along, always seeming to profit from the hard work of others. The one who smiles to your face, then stabs you in the back at the first opportunity. These are the people who test my patience to it's breaking point.
Growing up, I was fortunate to be surrounded by so many great people that I thought these Lily-livered Vermin were a rare species. I've come to know they are not as rare as I had hoped. I have a tendency to expect the best from people until I'm shown otherwise. Sometimes, that bites me in the ass. Every few years it happens. Over time, I've decided that it won't change the way I live and interact with people. I still expect the best from them until they prove otherwise. I've developed a kind of "Trust but Confirm" mentality. I truly love interacting with people and chose not to let a few bad actors ruin that for me.
HOWEVER...when someone proves themselves untrustworthy, a liar, cheat or thief...Katie Bar The Door...
Whitcomb Riley 's poem When Lide Married Him, 1894: Reference: www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/katy-bar-the-door.html
Living The Creed
There is a Creed among those who choose to walk the high road. In the West, we know it as the Cowboy Way. As I stated in my opening paragraph, I've seen it around the world. I think you can find good "Cowboys" anywhere and Their Creed is what sets them apart.
Make YOUR Brand Worth Riding For!
Wherever you go, whatever you do...you are making a name for YOUR Brand. Live in such a way that others will know you live with courage and integrity. No matter who you work for or what challenges stand in your way, Make YOUR Brand Worth Riding For!
Until Next Time...Live UNFILTERED.