Tripp Gibson, 11, hopes to one day take over his great-grandfather’s 70 section ranch in Abo, N.M. Out of the hundreds of commercial cattle living on the land, Tripp cares for a herd of 20 head
Not every 11-year-old boy has their own personal cattle herd.
Tripp Gibson, a fifth-generation rancher from Tomé, spends most weekends and summers out on his great-great grandpa’s ranch in Abo, N.M.
While the 70 sections of land have a couple hundred head of commercial cattle roaming about, Gibson cares for a smaller herd of about 20 head.
“With the ranch, I just like being out there — hanging with my family and working,” Gibson said.
Just like how his dad inspired him to raise and show cattle, Gibson has hopes to one-day inspire his own children to do the same.
“I want to take over the ranch one day and have children that show cows like that I have,” he said. “I want to inspire them by, when they are really little, getting them into and showing them how it’s done.”
When Tripp is not out on the ranch or practicing for his next show, he attends St. Mary’s Catholic School in Belen, ropes and plays golf. Just a few days shy of his 12th birthday, he is preparing to go into the sixth grade.
For his most recent show, Tripp and his family traveled more than 800 miles to Kansas City, Mo., so he could show two heifers and one bull at the National Junior Angus Show. He is currently the only member of the organization to reside in New Mexico out of the hundreds that joined him at the show from across the United States.
While this is Gibson’s third NJAS, this is the first year he showed and bred cattle — one heifer and one bull — himself. His mother, Vera Gibson, said it made this year’s show extra special.
“In the past, he purchased from other breeders, but this is the first time that he is taking something that he bred himself and facilitated the breeding of the animal,” Vera said.
She added, with a laugh that, unlike other families, artificial insemination and discussing the best bulls for breeding is a common topic of discussion in their house.
Tripp said there are many factors he looks for when breeding cattle, such as marbling score for meat in bulls, and milk weight in cows.
“In New Mexico, we don’t have that much water, so we don’t want cows with high milk weights because it takes them more water to make milk for their calf.” Gibson said.
In addition to showing cattle, Gibson also competes in judging cattle, extemporaneous speaking and auctioneering.
He is thankful for his family, who help him train and practice for all the contests he competes in.
“I work at home. My dad will show me, like we’ll judge cattle together at the ranch,” he said. “He’ll show me videos and pictures and stuff on how to judge cattle. And then me, my mom and my grandma will work with each other.”
Tripp competed in the auctioneering contest for the first time this year and even placed second place nationally in the contest. His interest in auctioneering came from the joy he felt attending cattle auctions in the past.
“When I go to auctions and stuff to buy cattle with my family, I just love being there, listening to auctioneer, rambling about cows,” Tripp said. “It’s just a blast to me.”
Above all, Tripp said the best part about being in NJAA are the people he has met and friends he has made.
“When I go to National Junior Angus, I have friends from Oregon, Tennessee, Maryland, pretty much everywhere, Texas, Oklahoma,” Tripp said.
“I’m always nervous; I’m a nervous wreck going and packing our family to be gone an entire week. It’s not just the four of us, it’s all of the cattle, too, which clearly takes more than we have to take,” Vera said. “But it is just an amazing week away from home, just meeting other families who are in the same position we are and learning from each other. That’s what I love most about it, just seeing him learning from other people — kids and adults. Everybody is just so open and caring and inviting.”
One of those friends, Avery Dull, nominated Tripp to be the NJAA Herd Pick for the month of April. They stalled down next to each other during Tripp’s first NJAS in Tulsa, Okla., with Dull later becoming Gibson’s mentor. Gibson was “super excited” when he found out Dull was the one who made the nomination.
Vera has also met her share of new friends while accompanying Tripp to the shows across the United States. She remembered after the 2021 show, she saw a post on Facebook of another mom giving thanks to one kid who allowed her child to practice on their heifer.
“Another mom commented, tagged me, and said, ‘Oh I think that was Tripp’s heifer.’ And it was,” she said. “So, I made friends with this other mom now. We didn’t know each other and her daughter helped us get our cows ready. It’s just such a great learning experience for everyone.”
Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history.