Cowboys

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cowboys

The Middle Ages found the mounted herdsman a frequent fixture of the semi-arid lands of
Spain, but rare in countries like England and France. Strong intrepid horsemen were
required to deal with the rugged geography of the Iberian Peninsula, and the wild ganado
prieto, predecessor to the savage bull ring black cattle. So integral a part of the
Spanish culture was horsemanship, that the world caballero (horseman) became, and still
is, the equivalent of the English word "gentleman." The word for horse in French is cheval
and knight is chevalier. The English term cavalry is derived from Italian. In Spanish the
word "horse" is caballo and knight or noble horseman is Caballero. In the Middle Ages
knighthood was a very high station in society. By his vows, the knight was required to
swear to advocate justice and the protection of women, elderly and the weak. The noble
knight was a protector of the common people guided by a code of conduct and etiquette; an
interesting parallel to the modern day social worker, only without all the glory and
romance. As a contemporary social worker and sheep rancher myself, it is clear now that
these penchants are built into the DNA, but, I much prefer the old-fashioned version. As
part of the knighthood ceremony, the knight was required to adopt an identifying coat of
arms insignia, (in ranching culture later evolving into the "brand"), ride to all the
villages in the kingdom, and publicly recite his vows of knighthood so that all would
witness his devotion to the King and his people. This part of the ceremony was to enable
all in the Kingdom to recognize the knight, and if the knight faltered in his duties, he
endured public shame and dishonor. A knight's honor was a virtue for which many knights
defended to the death. Keeping in mind that the first Spanish vaqueros were well heeled
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