The History of the American Cowboy

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  2. January 7, 2013 4:50 pm

The History of the American Cowboy

Reality Behind the Legend–The American Cowboy

The American cowboy has become an icon of what a man is all about–rugged, strong and protective. The American cowboy is seen as man who isn’t afraid of danger and who keeps his word no matter what. The American cowboy exists both in history and in contemporary America.

The American cowboy grew out of the need for strong men to manage cattle on the large open ranges of the west. While those who deal with cattle carry different names in places like Mexico and Argentina, American cowboys hold a special place in history.

The American west proved a perfect place to raise large herds of cattle. But this all took lots of time and effort. Men learned that horses were the best companion for dealing with the cattle. Cowboy dress and gear derived from the needs of their job from their boots and jeans, to hats and scarves. Rodeo events were created around the many real aspects of the historical work done by cowboys.

At first, cowboys drove cattle from Texas north on cattle drives that were difficult and dangerous, but that also offered great rewards in cattle sales. Once ranches spread across the west, cowboys herded cattle from one pasture to another and, at least once a year, herded the cattle to a stockyard to sell the cattle. At times, cowboys drove cattle to a rail outlet and, later, drove the cattle in large trucks.

Cowboys needed horses as transportation around the ranch. Cowboys, then and now, move cattle, mend fences and make sure the cattle are safe and well cared for. In winter they make sure the animals have enough hay and feed when pastures yield little grass. They check for disease and administer medication. They protect herds from predators natural, animal or human.

The American West produced a legend based on reality–the American Cowboy.


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