While working on the Hitch Ranch, a young cowboy crew learns important skills that go beyond working with cattle and horses.
“Learning how to rope,” Nick Shields replies when asked to share one of the highlights of working on the Hitch Ranch. “Yeah, I rope a lot. That’s the fun part. I started on a roping dummy first, and then I team roped with Todd [Adams, the Hitch Ranch manager]. And I’ve started out here, heeling.”
Is it different roping in an open pasture compared to roping in an arena?
“Yeah, it’s grass,” Shields says with a laugh.
Shields, who was raised in Mississippi, has acquired the classic cowboy skills while working for the Hitch Ranch in the Oklahoma Panhandle. But in addition to riding and roping, he has learned lessons that apply whether working for a cattle outfit or at a large metropolitan office job. The 23-year-old cowboy, who recently graduated from college, says he has learned the value of hard work, as well as team work.
“We like to be around each other,” he says of fellow Hitch cowboys. “Sometimes we all get a little grouchy, but what brothers don’t get grouchy at each other?”
William Harbison, who grew up in nearby Gruver, Texas, is currently pursuing a college degree. He says that the ranching lifestyle instills a unique perspective.
“People that were raised in this way of life think about stuff differently, versus somebody who was raised in town,” Harbison says. “I feel like you appreciate everything more because you work for it.”
“There’s a wholesomeness to this environment that has the electronics and everything out of it,” adds Adams. “It’s just the plain-spoken job, and being responsible. We all need that compass installed in us somewhere.”
Read more about the cowboys of the Hitch Ranch in our July 2019 issue.