This essay has a total of 1547 words and 8 pages.
Have you ever wondered who the cowboys were; how they lived; or what they did? The American Cowboy’s way of life was interesting and unique, and they contributed more to society than one might think. Besides looking after stock and driving cattle, they had to round up huge numbers of cattle for ranchers. This paper will examine the American cowboy’s character, what they wore, the everyday things they did like driving cattle and branding calves and the lawlessness of the old west.
The job wasn’t just for anyone. Certain character traits and physical characteristics were required if someone wanted to be a good cowboy. Considering the distances that they covered, traveling was rough. “… the cowboy needed great strength, endurance, and often ingenuity to complete the treks” (“Cowboy”).
People came from everywhere to become cowboys. Some came from eastern American states, others from the Midwest, and the rest came from states in the South. They came to work on ranches and drive cattle on the trail. “Many were ex-rebel soldiers who maintained that attitude on the trail. There was also a flood of renegades from both north and south that went to Texas. This is how Texas got a reputation for lawlessness and violence” (The Cowboys).
Being a cowboy, for some, had a special status. Cowboys in the Western Plains called themselves cow punchers and thought of themselves as more important than others.
“The man himself, the clothes he wore, and the horse he rode were all outgrowths of life on the range. The long days in the open, and riding alone with the cattle gave him self-reliance. The danger of stampeding cattle, of undependable horses, of hostile Indians and of bitter winter blizzards demanded endurance and courage. The whole job of driving, roping, and handling cattle required expert horsemanship” (“Cowboys”).
Cowboys worked very hard and also fought hard, but never with their fists. In a fight, a cowboy would always use his gun (The Cowboys).
The reason cowboys used their guns was because of the fact of the West being lawless. There were two reasons for the west being lawless, one is the social conditions there during that period and the second because the law there didn’t apply well to the conditions and wasn’t obeyed. It was also do to the vast distances between populated areas, which made it easy for a cowboy to move to another area and get caught for something he did. Sometimes one had to take the law into their own hands, that’s why cowboy needed to be physically strong, able to use a gun and brave (Frantz and Choate 84).
The attire a cowboy chose was very important to his job. Most things he wore had a definite purpose and suited the job well. “Their usual gear consisted of a bridle, saddle, rawhide lariat, spurs, boots, heavy leather chaps, hat, tarp, buffalo robe, and blankets” (The Cowboys). He also had a woolen or cotton shirt, tight woolen pants and handkerchief. All of the clothing accessories were chosen for their usefulness. For example, “A high-crowned, broad-brimmed felt hat, the sombrero, shielded him from the sun and rain. His soft-legged boots had high heels set far under the instep to hold his ankle clear of the heavy stirrup” (“Cowboy”). His handkerchief protected his face by
shielding it from the sun and preventing dust from entering his mouth. The tight pants were worn for a reason; they protected his legs from brush and insects (“Cowboys”). The things a cowboy wore were essential to life and they always used these things.
A cowboy’s job mainly involved the rounding up of cattle and driving the cattle to the destinations designated by the ranch owner. The first drives were short; they went over safe routes to locations in Texas and Louisiana (Java Script). Before moving the cattle, cowboys had to make sure that they were moving the right cattle from the herd. Cattle were branded to tell them apart from the others. The branding was done by having an expert roper catch the cattle by the legs with rope, loop the rope around the legs, and then drag the animal to where the branding irons were being heated. The adult cattle were thrown on their sides and the red-hot branding irons were pressed into the hides of the animals. Calves were stamped with the same mark as its mother. Earmarks that were cut into their ears also identified cattle (“Cowboy”).
After the cattle were branded, the drive began. “The first week on the trail was the crucial one. Cattle w
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