Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ranch Wife Ramblings: An Interview with Selena Bradshaw

Selena Bradshaw - Ranch Wife Ramblings
Photo by Dee Dodson

Ranch Wife Ramblings: An Interview with Selena Bradshaw
By Gina McKnight
Archived from the July 2022 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.
From Sterling, Oklahoma, Selena Bradshaw is the ultimate cowgirl. Selena and her husband raise commercial cattle, bucking horses, and bucking bulls! A seasoned rider, Selena writes, “My favorite thing to do is show horses, everything from jumping to cutting but these days you are most likely to find me in Ranch Horse classes. I am so blessed to be a ranch wife and love the challenges and great rewards that come with the life. I am so glad to have you along for the ride.”
Welcome, Selena!
GM: We are excited to have you in this edition of Florida Equine Athlete! I enjoy reading your blog and learning about all the things you do! And your horses are beautiful. Tell us about your first horse encounter…
SB: I was one of the really lucky kids! My parents had horses before I even came around. I have been around them from day one! So, I don’t really remember my first encounter, I do however remember my first solo riding adventure! I had a little miniature horse and I remember my dad putting me on bareback and all was well until we started to trot and then I promptly bounced off the side. Needless to say I was definitely not a natural!
GM: You were a lucky kid! Growing up with horses certainly prepared you for your current role. Tell us about the horses on your ranch…
SB: We have A LOT of horses on the ranch right now, most of them are bucking horses, we raise about 10 babies a year and have three different studs. But I’ll introduce you to my main saddle horse string!
Smart Trey or Trey for short is my main man! He is basically living the semi-retired life now but he has been with me through thick and thin. He has lived every place that I have and has taken me on many adventures. He even paid for some of my college as he was my mount when I showed on the Versatility Ranch Horse teams at Northeastern Junior College and Tarleton State University. He is an AQHA sorrel horse that proves that he is little but he is mighty! We have spent time doing a little bit of everything from running flags at a rodeo, roping, showing in showmanship, hunter under saddle to dragging calves to the fire and everything in between. However, we have found our best success in the NRCHA events and AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse.
Play In The Woods or Elle Woods for short - you know like the movie “Legally Blonde” (The best chick flick ever!). Anyways, she's a gray AQHA mare that is just starting to become the main mount. I have started showing her at some small ranch horse events and we have been using her more and more on the ranch. I have big hopes for her as my next show horse and to start taking more responsibilities on the ranch.
Slick is a red roan grade horse. He is the true MVP of the group! He is the one that gets saddled when we need to get something done and I know he will take care of me with no funny business! No matter if it’s freezing cold and snowing or super-hot out when we have a job to do, Slicks the one I want to be on.
Curious George was supposed to be a bucking horse but he decided that he would rather be a working horse. He is mainly my husband's horse but every once in a while I like to climb on him and play around. He is like riding a big tank and is just a lot of fun with his larger than life goofy personality. He has a lot of Draft in him and being a sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail, he looks a lot like a Belgian horse.
Bay Boy is a bay grade horse. He is definitely my husband's horse but I just couldn’t keep him out. He is the definition of a gritty ranch horse. Sometimes I’ll talk my husband into letting me ride him and he is all business! He used to not be the friendliest of horses but I introduced him to horse treats and he has decided it’s worth getting fussed over to eat some treats.
GM: Treats are always a plus! In the show arena, what is your favorite event?
SB: I am such a sucker for a good horse! I love all of the horse show classes! However my very favorites and favorites to show in myself are the Working Cowhorse, Reining, Cutting, Ranch Riding, Ranch Trail and Ranch Pleasure.
I qualified for the AQHYA World Show on Trey in the Working Cowhorse and then the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Show. We had a lot of success showing in the versatility ranch horse classes through the years including being the reserve AQHA high point youth versatility year end. I like that it’s more than one class that we get to show in.
While the Working Cowhorse will always be my favorite of all time, reining has definitely become a top favorite. I have been blessed to get to scribe at the NRHA Derby, Futurity and NRBC and it has made me a huge fan. I can’t tell you how honored I feel getting to sit in the scribe seat while history is being made. Those horses and riders are so talented and it’s so special to have an arena seat.
GM: Sounds like fun. Horses all day, every day! Congratulations on your accolades. As a ranch wife, what is your go-to for motivation and inspiration? How do you stay fit and energized?
SB: I am a sucker for motivational quotes! I think that my favorite thing about Facebook other than getting to keep up with friends and family is finding those little gems of inspiration all typed up pretty. I am always saving them on my phone, it’s full of them!
I also like to surround myself with a goal list that is the locked screen of my phone. I think that these help me stay focused throughout the day. I started following Rachel Hollis years ago and she suggested every morning starting out with a journal which has five things that you are grateful for that happened the day before, 10 dreams I made happen (they haven’t happened yet, you just write them like they have because you're going to make them happen!) and then the goal that you’re going to achieve first. I have taken this journaling and ran with it! It’s the first thing that I do every morning whether I’m at home or on the road. It helps me remember to be grateful for the things that I have while I stay focused on my goals and dreams.
I would also be lost without snacks and a book! I bring them with me everywhere! I don’t like to be hungry and you never know if something that you thought would only take a little while turns into a whole day ordeal so I am always squirreling away snacks! I also bring a book with me wherever I go! I love to read and I find it's something that I enjoy doing if we have a little down time rather than scrolling on my phone, especially since I don’t always have service.
I would love to say that I have a special exercise plan and diet but I am very inconsistent with working out unless I have a run coming up. I like to do at least one 10K a year running for Team Beef Oklahoma and when I’m gearing up for that I try to run five days a week. Otherwise, I try to sneak in a run and YouTube Barre class a few times a week if we're not too busy. As for diet, my husband is a great cook! If it wasn’t for him I would be eating TV dinners and Mac and Cheese every day! He does a good job of having us eat a balanced diet of beef and veggies each day. We raise our own beef and during the summer we have a pretty good size garden that helps us get some fresh veggies! We tend to eat a good breakfast and lunch and just have a small snack at night. I also sneak in my fair share of sweets since that’s definitely my favorite thing!
GM: Take us through a day in your life...
SB: Oh, goodness! Our day varies so much each day and especially during different seasons and sometimes I am on the road working horse shows. However, right now we are done calving spring calvers and have just finished working all of them (giving vaccinations, castrating the bull calves, worming and fly spraying them). We have a few months before we start calving out fall calvers which will find us spending most of our day horseback checking cows and pushing calves to the shade so they don’t overheat in the summer heat.
So, our typical day right now starts around 5am. I will get ready and dressed, do some house chores and my husband makes breakfast. After breakfast we go out and feed the saddle horses and whatever else is up and gets grain. We then saddle up and check cows and calves and doctor anything that is sick. After that we come in and eat some lunch. After lunch we will work on whatever other projects we have around the house, things like spraying weeds, fixing fences, putting out minerals and other miscellaneous things that need to get done. I have a project horse that I am working with right now so I will generally go work with her and finish my barn chores and sometimes go work horses depending on who got rode that morning. We will come in for the night and I will try to work at least an hour on the side hustles of my blog, or Punchy Designs.
GM: Working cattle and horses can be fun and dangerous, especially around bulls. What techniques do you use to confront a misbehaving animal?
SB: My husband and I work together so much that we know what each other is thinking or going to do next without having to say anything which makes working together really nice, especially when things are a little dicey. It also helps that my husband is an amazing hand around horses and cattle and he keeps things running pretty smoothly! However, you always find yourself with that one pesky animal that doesn’t want to corporate. We recently got out of raising bucking bulls, so luckily we don’t have as many standoffs anymore.
I would like to tell you that when confronted with a misbehaving animal I handle it with grace and professionalism but that would just be a lie! It generally starts out with me getting angry and calling them names, because they definitely care about the name you call them, right? Haha, then, I go to the pleading with them to just behave and then I do what I should have just done in the first place, take a step back, take a deep breath, think about why what I’m doing isn’t working and re-adjust.
GM: Once you raise a bucking horse and/or bull, do you get the chance to follow them on the rodeo circuit(s)? Do you maintain a connection to the animal?
SB: It depends on where the animal goes. Each bronc and bull carries our ranch brand, the stuk B, and then a letter and number that identifies each animal. We have had some broncs and bulls get sold to contractors for the PRCA and the PBR and we are able to follow those horses and bulls because each time they get drawed by a rider we are able to see who got them and how they were marked. It has also been fun with social media because lots of times we can look up the guy that drew them and see the video of their ride! Last summer when I was working the Colorado State Fair horse show, a mare that we raised had drawn up in the reride pen of the rodeo going on there and although she didn’t end up getting used I was still able to go see her and it was really neat! When they go to the amateur rodeos we will see them pop up on videos and pictures which is always fun! I have also halter broke a few that didn’t want to buck and instead went on to careers as riding horses and I love when the owners send me pictures and updates on how they are doing.
Just like any animal, some are more friendly than others. While most of the broncs that we have you can’t go out and pet in the pasture we have a few that like horse treats and will let you pet them. We spend a lot of time with them from feeding, getting them used to the chute and equipment, moving them from different pastures, checking on them and just plain hanging out with them. They get pretty used to humans and I don’t think that they mind us that much and some seem to like us.
On the other hand some never do end up “liking” people. I had a little bucking bull that I bottle fed from the time that he was itty bitty until he was a big bull and he never got to the point that he wanted to be around people. He was super talented but definitely on the mean side and no amount of bribing with treats could win him over.
GM: What advice do you have for women who are seeking your lifestyle? What challenges will they face? What can they expect?
SB: The biggest advice that I can give to women that are seeking my lifestyle is that you can do it! It’s not the easiest but it’s worth it and if I can do it so can you!
The two biggest challenges that I faced were having to plan better and not having friends close by. Planning better comes with experience and honestly with the help of Amazon, I have probably gotten a little bit less than I was before. Before I moved here I wasn’t too far from town and I worked in town so it wasn’t a big deal to run to the grocery store and pick up something. Moving here I only go grocery shopping twice a month and learning to check certain things before I leave and make a good list was a must! The next challenge I faced was not having friends close by. We live in a little town and it wasn’t like I had a town job or was going to school where I could make friends right away. Being a very social person this was hard for me but I realized that we are so lucky! We live in a time in age where my best friend who lives across the country is just a text, call, or message away! Over time I was able to meet some amazing ladies that I get to call best friends that live super close to me, one just across the road! So while at times it might feel lonely when you are just getting started out I promise your “old” friends aren’t that far away and you will meet some great people. It might just take a little longer since most days the only person I see is my husband.
Some things to expect are getting used to doing things by yourself. With as many animals as we are taking care of it is hard for both of us to get away at the same time. People might make jokes when you go to weddings and other things alone, just go! Sometimes, going and doing things by yourself not only makes you a strong person, it can be fun! Make the best of it! Also, get used to people acting like just because you don’t have a 9-5 job you just sleep in and do nothing all day. It used to make me mad when people would make snide little comments about how it must be nice to not have to work, when I was working much longer hours than them but I’ve gotten used to it and they can think what they think. While I never get to leave my job and living this lifestyle while we don’t have as much freedom as people would think we do get to dictate what we do every day, well unless an animal has different plan for us, and while there's always something to do I wouldn’t trade it for a 9-5! I have done that and while I loved my town jobs I like this one much better!
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
SB: To me horsemanship is a person that is constantly working to improve their connection with the horse. I believe that to have horsemanship you have to constantly be working to get better. I also feel like horsemanship expands from how you take care of your horse all the way to your riding. I feel like a lot of people skip over the care of their horse and that’s a main part of being a horseman. From what you feed your horse, to grooming and healthcare, all of that is just as important as how well you ride.

Photo by Dee Dodson

Photo by Dee Dodson

Photo by Krista Davis Signature Portraiture

Photo by Randy Duran


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