Anza’s real-life cowboys and cowgirls wrangle calves

Steve Sieke
Steve Sieke prepares to rope a calf at the branding roundup Sunday, Jan. 26, in Anza. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

The bawling of calves, the thunder of horse’s hooves, clouds of dust and the fine-tuned coordination of cowboys and cowgirls with their mounts were on display Sunday, Jan. 26.

The old holding pens off state Route 371 by the Cahuilla motocross track came alive with time-honored, real-life action as the cattle were crowded into sturdy corrals and calves separated from the herd.

Clouds of gritty dust erupted as the young animals were expertly roped, subdued, examined and given vaccinations, worming medication and branded.

The main purpose of branding cattle is to prove ownership of lost or stolen livestock. Many western U.S. states have strict laws regarding brands, including brand registration and require brand inspections. A brand on an animal is considered proof of ownership.

Anza’s resident cattleman Stoney Stone organized the event to attend to his herd and the new calves.

The area’s elite cattlemen and equestrians attended the roundup to take part in this important activity.

Horses and riders worked in perfect unison, while highly trained cattle dogs stood at the ready. The frightened calves were attended to one by one, then released back to the herd, sporting their new marks.

Each calf was separated from the group, and roped by the neck and one hind leg. As the well-trained horses kept the ropes taught, several men would descend upon the animal, deftly flipping it onto its side. The calf was examined, wormer was administered, vaccinations given, ears notched and the branding iron applied. Bull calves were quickly and expertly castrated by Stoney.

The teamwork between horse and human was like a ballet, the animals anticipating what was expected of them well before being asked.

“I just love this life,” expert horsewoman Shannon Clawson said.

After the hard work, a barbecue was enjoyed by the crowd with tri tip, salad and Stoney’s ham hocks and beans.

The Anza Valley has a time-honored tradition working with herds of cattle, seeing to their well-being and growth. The men, woman and even children celebrate this history as they secure their futures.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at