Cattle ranching has changed since the days of the Old West, but the hard work still remains. Cows are still needed to grow calves and provide people with beef. Plenty of folks still enjoy a good steak or hamburger on their plate, and nothing quite hits the spot like a bowl of homemade beef soup, or stew on a cold winter's night.
Today's cow horses still have to be trained. Calves have to be branded, fences have to be maintained, and calves and cows have to be rescued when they get trapped in mud holes or quicksand.
Not all-western horses were cow horses, and just like today, some performed other jobs.
A Cutting horse - was quick and brisk, and trained to separate the market steers from the main herd at the fall roundup. The cutter's movement was short and quick, and he followed a steer to hastily drive it through the main crowd, and into the holding herds.
A roping horse - was trained to become a team member with his rider for roping calves and branding.
A circle horse - was picked for wind and endurance, and used to help the cowboy round up cattle on the range. This job was tough, and could mean miles of solid riding.
Types of Early Cowboys:
Texas Cowboy - the first American herdsmen of the 1830s were called "Texas Cowhunters." Later they were referred to as "cowboys," because so many of them were young.
The Spanish Vaquero of California - often referred to as the "Cowboy of Mexico," is still known as a vaquero, a Spanish word for "herdsman."
The Southwestern Cowpoke - is still known today as the best roper in the business. These guys used a poking stick to nudge steers to their feet through the slats of a cattle car.
The Northwestern Buckaroo - in the Northwest, horses were raised before cows, and the men who broke them became known as the West's top broncobusters.
Many folks are concerned that one day the cowboy will be only a faded memory. If so, what a delightful memory that will be! In the meantime today's cowboys, actors, authors, and many country singers are doing a remarkable job of keeping the once and future Cowboy alive.
Ride on Cowboy!
Bookshelf for Boys & Girls: Heroes & Heroines. New Jersey.
The Home Adv. Library: America's Story. Chicago.
© 2000 jcpinkerton