Friday, July 08, 2011

What Makes a True "Cowboy"?

I have been pondering this since many boys these days think they are real "cowboys". Here's a reality check: YOU ARE NOT A TRUE COWBOY. Real cowboys are MEN who are humble and have integrity. They treat women with respect and are honest. Real cowboys have enough gonads to look a woman straight in the eye and tell her how he feels. A real cowboy respect his horse and livestock. He's the one watering and feeding his animals before he, himself, eats. He's the first one out riding fence in the morning and the last one to leave. Real cowboys live by the Code of the West:

  • Live each day with courage.
    "A man wanting in courage would be as much out of place in a cow-camp as a fish on dry land. Indeed the life he is daily compelled to lead calls for the existence of the highest degree of cool calculating courage."—Texas Livestock Journal (1882) . 
  • Real courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.

  • Take pride in your work.
    The cowboy is often portrayed as being unlettered and unskilled ~ a common laborer in spurs. In the cowboy's own mind, he was no mere work hand, but a cavalier ~ a knight of the plains sitting tall in the saddle. — Cowboy Ethics by James P Owen (2004) 
  • Cowboying doesn't build character, it reveals it.

  • Always finish what you start.
    "No cowboy ever quit while his life was hardest and his duties were most exacting." J. Frank Dobie in A Vaquero of the Brush Country (1929). 
  • When you are riding through hell…keep riding.

  • Do what has to be done.
    Whenever there is [trouble], we'll depend on ourselves. We'll take care of it ~ when it comes, not after it is too late" James Will  in The American Cowboy (1942). 
  • The true test of a man's honor was how much he would risk to keep it in tact.

  • Be tough, but fair.
    "I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them." John Wayne in his last film "The Shootist: (1976). The Golden Rule was nothing less than a key to survival.

  • When you make a promise, keep it.
    A man is only as good as his word.

  • Ride for the brand.
    "They were intensely loyal to the outfit they were working for and would fight to the death for it. They would follow their wagon boss through hell and never complain." Teddy Blue Abbott in "We Point them North" (1939).  
  • The cowboy's greatest devotion was his calling and his way of life.

  • Talk less and say more.
    When there is nothing more to say, don't be saying it.

  • Remember that some things aren't for sale.
    To the cowboy, the best things in life aren't things.

  • Know where to draw the line.
    "'Good fences make good neighbors,' wrote the New England poet, Robert Frost. But out West, people looked at things differently. On the open range, the boundaries people needed to get along were set by the shared standards of right and wrong. Those boundaries were as good as fences because everyone knew where they were." There's right and there's wrong, and nothing in between.
  • Excerpt from a book by James P. Owen, Cowboy Ethics — What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West (2004, published by Stoecklein Publishing & Photography, ISBN 1-931153-95-7). From Louis L'amour book "The Outlaws of the Mesquite", page 123, June 1960.
"One of the things you didn't do in the west was bother a woman. It rarely happened." 

"If a woman got off a stage at a stage-stop to get something to eat, and a man did not get up to give her a place at the table, somebody else knocked him off the seat so she could be seated. You couldn't even bump into a woman walking in the street without somebody knocking you into the ground for it."

"Women were treated with great respect and this was universal all over the frontier. It was one thing you didn't transgress."

 I realize times have changed and generational change has occurred, but c'mon! Whatever happened to opening car doors and regular doors for ladies.Whatever happened to respect for one another? What ever happened to trust and honest? Today's generation, my generation, has no morals or convictions. If they do, it's a rarity. I digress...that's a whole other post. I found a quote last week that is my new life mottto for me and anyone who associates with me because I know I'm a complex human being:

"If you can't handle the ride, then don't climb into the chute."

...and I made this up today when I was talking to Catie. I'll leave you with this:

 "Don't prod the embers, if you can't handle the flame!"