March 27, 2020
Brent Bennett doesn’t have a typical office view. Instead of sitting in a corner office in a high rise, Bennett sits high in the saddle with his trusted co-worker, Badger.
The Grandview, Texas, man has the job that a lot of little girls and boys–when asked what they want to be when they grow up–strive to be. A time-honored tradition of care-takers of the land. The great American cowboy.
“I wake up excited to go to work every day.”
Brent Bennett and his gelding, Badger. Photo courtesy of RC Photography.
“I wake up excited to go to work every day,” Bennett said. “Even when it’s cold or hot or raining. Some kids who grow up in the city never get to see a horse in person except for pony rides. Can you imagine that? So I am thankful every day for what I get to do.”
Bennett didn’t grow up in a family of horsemen. He started riding in his late teens and progressed his training and knowledge until it turned into a full-time gig 12 years ago. He specializes in training roping horses and starting colts, and has a prolific show record including national titles with the Appaloosa Horse Club, American Association of Cowboy Churches Ranch Rodeo champion, Heart of Texas team roping champion, Fort Worth Stockyards Champion Rodeo heading champion, and most recently he was the show champion of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Working Ranch Championships.
“If I am ever having a bad day, I just saddle up and go ride, and by the time I am done checking on everyone, I am in a much better mood.”
Bennett roping at a show. Photo courtesy of Tommy Voelkler.
However, his favorite thing to do on horseback is to go check and doctor cows in the pasture.
“There is just something about being able to saddle up and ride through a huge tract of land checking on cows,” he said. “If I am ever having a bad day, I just saddle up and go ride, and by the time I am done checking on everyone, I am in a much better mood.”
There aren’t many horsemen who still rope cows in the pasture. Bennett himself will admit that there is a level of danger in checking on cows this way, but he feels it makes a better rope horse.
“I’ll have people say they want to come rope with me, but they don’t want to rope in the pasture. Sometimes I’ll go running after a loose cow for a bit and then when I catch him and tie him down I look back around and think, ‘dang, I went through that?’ But it makes the horses keep their feet under them better. I’ve never gone down on one in the pasture,” he said.
Occasionally, Bennett will attach his GoPro camera to his chest while he ropes in the pasture. His videos have gained over a million views on YouTube. Not only does it give a personal perspective of what a real-life cowboy does, but he also wants to encourage young people to get into horses and he hopes that his videos will pique the interest of prospective horse owners. Bennett’s grandchildren regularly come to ride with him and learn all about horsemanship. His granddaughter, Rilynn, will even come and check cows with him.
Bennett with his grandson, Charlie. Photo courtesy of Brent Bennett.
Bennett won his biggest title this past January–show champion of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Working Ranch Championships–on his home-trained gelding, a 5-year-old son of Peptoboonsmal that came out of the Tarleton State University colt-starting program. After his big win, Bennett was shocked to discover that a reporter with the Cowboy Channel wanted to do an on-camera interview. Bennett, a humble man, said he was nervous to be interviewed.
"When I got to the show people were asking me, ‘Oh, are you a real cowboy?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know if I am a real cowboy but I got things to do when I leave here!”
“I come back to the arena after a few minutes and someone says to me that they are going to interview me, and I said, ‘Huh? Me?’ I should’ve just kept walking,” he said. “She asked me why people were giving me a hard time about my saddle [at the show]. I have a barn full of saddles at home but I knew when I was leaving there that I was going to go check cows, so I just threw my day-working saddle on my horse. I didn’t see any sense in coming back home just to change saddles. I didn’t even bathe Badger the day before, I just brushed the dirt off of him. It was just another day for him and me. When I got to the show people were asking me, ‘Oh, are you a real cowboy?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know if I am a real cowboy but I got things to do when I leave here!”
The win was especially memorable for Bennett, as the event took place in the famous Will Rogers Memorial Arena, a historic building in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I had been going there to watch things since I was a kid and I’ve never won anything there. There are a lot of people who have gone there and have never won anything, so it was very special. I got a little emotional,” he said.
Bennett and Badger at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Working Ranch Championships, just after their win. Photo courtesy of Brent Bennett.
Finally, when the reporter asked Bennett where he was going from there, he took it very literally.
“I couldn’t think of what else to say except I was going to check cows in the wheat pastures,” he said with a laugh. “Most people aren’t going to take a show horse and go rope one down in the pasture. When you have a good one though, you don’t think about that as much. And Badger is a good one.”