Bear’s Meeting With A Colorado Brand Inspector

Last week, I saw my husband for the first time in over a year! We weren’t separated because we wanted to be but rather for economic reasons. If you are wondering what this has to do with the title of this post, please bare with me for a minute while I give you some background. 🙂

Six years ago, my husband and I moved from the Midwest to Colorado (with horses and cats). My husband is from New Mexico. I had been wanting to move back there forever, but the closest job opportunity that came up was in Colorado so we grabbed it.

But after our Midwestern home did not sell, we made the choice for him to continue working in Colorado while I returned to the Midwest with the horses and cats to take care of our property. We figured we would eventually get the house sold. Then I would move back to Colorado.

In the interim, the industry he worked for shrunk dramatically. Every thought we had of my putting the property back up on the market and moving back out to Colorado became increasingly financially impractical, especially with the horses and cats in the mix.

We hung on year after year, thinking that things would eventually turn in our favor. Then his chronic health issues worsened. Then COVID19. Then he was laid off. So now he is back home with me, the horses and the cats.

I really don’t know how many marriages would survive such an adventure. It is not necessarily a path I’d recommend, but it did come with a lot of lessons. I learned something about grit, about weathering all kinds of uncertainty, about failing at what I had set out to do and yet continuing to live and grow and love.

I personally learned that I could care for just under five acres of property by myself while caring for our critters and a lengthy series of foster horses and cats. I learned that I didn’t let any of the drama of it all keep me from riding. Overall, it was a big lesson that life can still be rich and meaningful even if it doesn’t go according to plan. My goal is still to eventually move back out West again, but I need to figure out a path way.

Believe it or not, all that is a segue way into the title subject of this post.

In the course of cleaning house in preparation for my husband’s return, I came across Bear’s brand inspection paperwork.

In some Western States like Colorado, you can only prove legal ownernship in one of two ways. Either a horse owner officially registers a brand symbol with the State and the horse is branded with that symbol OR a State brand inspector issues an official identification card or certification from the State’s livestock board.

Bear didn’t come to me with a brand, and I did not want to brand him when we arrived in Colorado, but I DID want to have legal proof of ownership. We rented a horse property in Colorado so I could continue my backyard horse-keeping in our new State, but I anticipated having to move around a bit. Maybe boarding the horses before we actually purchased a property. With all the unknowns in our situation, I wanted to be sure I had legal proof that these horses I had just moved across the country really were mine.

So I scheduled an appointment with the local brand inspector to start the process. I thought it would mostly be handled online and the paperwork be digital just like many “proof of coggins test” paperwork is now. Turns out the process was very old-school (granted, this was back in 2014. Things may have changed by now. But even by 2014 I was getting digital coggins paperwork). The process didn’t even include photographs, which I had previously assumed would be included.

On the day of the appointment, a Colorado stock inspector came out to our rented property to eyeball me and the horses (at that time, my remaining horses were Bear and Pumpkin Spice). He verified that neither horse had a brand. He then filled out the paperwork by hand, noting identifying marks. I paid my money, he filled out the rest of the form, and he handed me back my official brand inspection paperwork for each horse, enclosed in a plastic sheet with parts of the State of Colorado seals visible at the bottom. There ends my “long and winding road” of a story.

So what about you? Do you have a horse with a brand of some kind or a horse who has been brand inspected?

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