Friday, March 27, 2015

How Many Ways Can You Say Cowboy

By Alison Bruce

The cowboy tradition has its roots in Spain and their methods of cattle herding. But not all its roots and the branches have spread far and wide.

Spanish North America included California and Florida as well as Mexico and Texas.

California, cut off from the rest of the United States by the Rockies, developed its own vaquero tradition shaped by geography. Vaqueros, or buckaroos, were considered highly skilled workers. They tended to stay with one ranch and raised families.

The Texas tradition was influenced by the cattle drovers of the southern states and was shaped by the effects of the Civil War. Cowboys tended to by bachelor migrants, working the season with one ranch, then moving on. Geography played its part too. Where the Californians could graze smaller areas because of the abundance of fodder, south western cowboys had to let their cattle range far and wide, constantly moving to find food and water.

Long before the golden age of the American west, the vaquero tradition was being adapted in Hawaii.
"By 1832, Parker contracted Mexican vaqueros, expert horsemen with plenty of cattle experience. They arrived with boots and saddles, a new language and a new lifestyle for the island. Called “paniolo” by Hawaiians, the skilled cowboys trained local men to rope and ride a generation before their American counterparts in the “Wild West.” Wikipedia

"Remington's Cracker Cowboy"
Meanwhile in Florida, the Spanish cattle had gone wild. In the late 19th Century into the 20th Century, Cracker Cowboys or cow hunters were rounding them up and developing their own traditions. Instead using a lariat, they controlled their cattle with herding dogs and whips. Since they didn't lasso, they didn't need the high pommel that is so distinctive on a western saddle.

"Gaucho1868b" by Courret Hermanos
In South America, Gauchos herd cattle year round, seeking water and fodder in the extreme conditions of the pampas. Their traditional costume looks quite different from their northern brethren, but the boots, chaps, bandana and hat are functionally similar.

A cowboy, by any other name.

Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Alison is the author of mystery, suspense and historical western romance novels. She is also a self-confessed logophile (word-lover) and research junkie.


Robyn Echols said...

Very informative. I nice little primer pointing out regional differences. Thanks!

Robyn Echols w/a Zina Abbott

GiniRifkin said...

Thanks Alison for sharing that information. Really enjoyed it and open avenues for more research.

Cowboy Kisses is so entertaining and informative. so glad I found you guys!

Gini Rifkin

Alison E. Bruce said...

Thanks Robyn and Gina!

I love this blog because it gives me an outlet for my research addiction. It also gives me a research fix reading the other posts.