When it comes to drawing top dollar in the auction ring, Brad Rothrock said the best horses keep calm and confident.
"The good ones go in there, and they kind of feel through you," said Rothrock, a horse trainer and agent from the north central Washington community of Tonasket. "A lot of it is just getting them exposed to where they've seen some commotion, and they know everything is all right."
Rothrock staged patiently outside the Pendleton Convention Center Saturday during Cattle Barons Weekend before riding in on Redline a 2006 red dun gelding as part of the annual Western Select horse and working dog sale.
Ranchers bid on 26 geldings and seven dogs, with a commission taken from each sale to benefit the Pendleton Cattle Barons and their agricultural scholarship programs. The organization, formed in celebration of Eastern Oregon's Western heritage, gave $9,000 in scholarships to students in 2013.
Most geldings sell for about $6,000, though top-of-the-line animals can go for as high as $18,000. Redline was advertised as gentle, though experienced in rounding up cattle and roping for brandings.
"I've branded on him, roped calves on him, both heading and heeling," Rothrock said. "He handles things in stride."
Before bidding began, the Cattle Barons announced this year's winners of several awards, including a new scholarship named after longtime Pendleton rancher Clayton Livingston, who died Oct. 7, 2013 of a heart attack at age 53.
The Clayton Livingston Memorial Scholarship for $1,500 went to Piper Cantrell, a sophomore at Blue Mountain Community College, who plans to transfer to Eastern Oregon University where she will major in animal science and pre-veterinary medicine.
The Umatilla County Cattlemen's Association Heifer Scholarship was awarded to Hermiston sixth-grader Macy Pearl Machado. Machado will receive a heifer donated by Terry Hamby, of Pilot Rock, to raise and breed for two years as a start for her own herd.
Finally, the Cattle Barons Legacy Award went to Randy Mills, who for 30 years has served as a livestock agent for Oregon State University in Umatilla County and secretary of the cattlemen's association. Marty Campbell, president of the Cattle Barons Board, described Mills as "the wind beneath ranching's wings in northeast Oregon."
Mills said he was honored and humbled by the recognition.
"I've been honored to be a part of this association," Mills told the East Oregonian. "The producers here are progressive, on the cutting edge. Hopefully I've helped them along the way in their endeavors."
Cattle Barons Weekend also featured a barbecue competition, extensive trade show and saddle bronc championship. Attendance has grown every year, Campbell said, which has him excited for the event continuing strong in the future.
"We're trying to celebrate and keep alive the Western heritage and ranching legacy of northeast Oregon," Campbell said. "We always worry we'll land on our heads with this every year. We're just tickled people want to celebrate that heritage like we do."
For Rothrock, Saturday was his third trip back to Pendleton for Cattle Barons Weekend. The city always treats him well, he said.
"It's a welcoming atmosphere," Rothrock said. "It's good to come where people enjoy seeing cowboy hats."
Contact George Plaven at email@example.com or 541-564-4547.