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A Day in the Life of a Working Cowboy


A Day in the Life of a Working Cowboy

A cowboy rides through the arena.

Photo © Mary R. Vogt
Blood, dust and mud may disgust many people, but they are the cement and glue that hold most cowboys together. These storied men aren't just a part of storybook lore; they are some of the most hard-working, determined men on Earth. Cowboys are up before sunrise and some home long after dark, doctoring, herding and watching over a host of four-legged critters. When they wants to cut loose, rodeo cowboys head to the arena and hop on the back of a bucking, twisting mound of bucking bronc or raging bull. Whether its work or play, a cowboy puts his heart and soul into everything he does.

Up Before The Sun

While many of us are waking up the blaring honk of an alarm clock, the cowboy's finely tuned body wakes up before the rooster crows. He slips into his faded denim jeans and slides on his battered cowboy boots, grabbing a cup of steaming hot coffee on his way out to the pens. The cows moo softly in anticipation of their breakfast, and rustle through piles of clean day to find the softest, tastiest greens. Horses neigh for their grain, diving in as soon as the feed hits the tub. Chickens peck and scratch the ground, and the cowboy's cheerful cattle dog prances around in anticipation of a hard day's work. The cowboy selects his favorite mount from the pen, saddles up, and heads into the fields to check on the rest of the herd. The sun comes up over a landscape hard at work, with the sturdy cowboy doctoring the sick and branding new calves. He separates steers headed for market, penning them up to make weighing and counting easier for the shippers. Those that aren't meant for market are driven back into the pasture, and the cowboy sends his dog in to move the cattle into greener fields. The heat of the midday sun is too much for the cattle, and the cowboy finds a cool place to settle in for lunch. A quick meal and a little rest is enough to re-invigorate even the weariest man.

Prepare for Competition

Afternoon is the perfect time for the rodeo cowboy to hone his skills for this weekend's big competition. The rough stock cowboy spends a few minutes selecting the right mount, and loads him into the pen. He then takes a close look at his gear, inspecting it for signs of wear and tear. A frayed bull rope or loose stitching on a bronc saddle could spell disaster. Ropes are rosined, straps are tightened, and gloves are cleaned in preparation for a day of practice. The bronc or bull is loaded into the chute and fitted with the proper gear before the cowboy climbs aboard. As the chute flies open, the determined cowboy holds on for dear life. A roper's day is a less dangerous, but no less important. He pulls his favorite horse from the pen, saddles up and runs the horse through a quick warm-up to stretch his limber muscles. He loads a few calves into the chute and backs his horse into the roping box. The horse quivers in anticipation, listening for the metallic clang of the opening chute, which means it's time to run. As the calf charges forward, the horse follows and the cowboy tosses an expertly placed throw around his neck. A dozen calves later, both horse and rider have had enough work for one day and head back to the barn.

Gone With The Sun

Before it's time to quit for the day, the cowboy must and groom the horses. The cows are ready to be fed again, and the horses need fresh hay and clean water. The cowboy performs his duties without a work of complaint, enjoying the smell of fresh earth and the sweat of hard work. Tack must be wiped down, chickens must be shooed into the coop, and the dog waits patiently for his dinner. The sun sets over the horizon as the exhausted cowboy heads in for the evening, weary to his very bones but satisfied with a long day's work.

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