At our ranches, the cowboy is the backbone of our team.They are our eyes and ears on the ground, protecting both our cattle and our ranch. In short, they are the stewards of our most important resources. A cowboy needs to respect the cattle innately. He has to have an eye to notice early stages of illness, behavioral changes or looks in cattle. He has to be caring, attentive, and responsible with the animals. He must be patient.
There is a code among cowboys that transcends copyrights, technology, and other manifestations of culture that some folks may consider “modern.” The cowboy way is simple. A true cowboy is decent, treats both humans and nature with dignity and respect, and never threatens to use a lawyer where a handshake or a respectful conversation would suffice.
It may sound like a bygone era, but it is our reality.
A cowboy needs to be a skilled tracker. He must be able to read sign, or evidence that cattle have been through a place, and he must have cow sense to know where to look to find the cattle. He must also have good horsemanship skills to be able to find the cattle on horseback. Finally, he must have good dogs and he must be a good dog man to be able to use his dogs to gather the cattle in difficult terrain.
A cowboy needs to be able to ride all day and he has to have the staying power to work effectively when times are tough and the odds are stacked tall against him. He needs good judgment and he must be able to make quick decisions regarding the welfare of his cattle and himself, and he must be able to do this even when he is mentally and physically exhausted. He needs the versatility to work alone when necessary, and to work on a team when there is extra help available. He has to be handy with a rope, because cattle that get away and those that can’t be found will revert to wild. They will even more difficult to find and to gather.
A cowboy needs to know when to “whip-up” and when to “whoa.” If the cattle are moving in the wrong direction, you may have to whip up and ride hard or send the dogs to turn them.
When they’re moving in the right direction, you have to “whoa” and back off; give them the space to do the right thing.