Living the Code of the West RSS



TALK LESS AND SAY MORE

The stereotypical cowboy is known as the strong silent type. He is a man of few words. The cowboy is a doer not a talker, he gets straight to the point, makes things simple, and says what he means. Characters played by Clint Eastwood and Sam Elliot depict this behavior. When they speak, you listen. They make every word count. Many years ago, as a beginner roper I was at a practice session, getting an overload of advice from a number of more experienced ropers. Each of them going into detail of what I was doing, and what I should be doing. I appreciated all the help yet was overwhelmed with the information. As I was processing the newly acquired...

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RIDE FOR THE BRAND

In the words of the great western writer, Louis L’Amour, “Ride for the Brand was an expression of loyalty to a man’s employer or the particular outfit he rode for. It was considered a compliment of the highest order in an almost feudal society. If a man did not like a ranch or the way they conducted their affairs he was free to quit, and many did, but if he stayed on, he gave loyalty and expected it.” A brand is the mark that identifies the ranch and the owner. It represents pride and duty, and creates a sense of identity for the cowboys who represent the brand. Riding for the Brand inspires loyalty and dedication to the ranch and...

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WHEN YOU MAKE A PROMISE KEEP IT

The cowboy’s job was rough and dangerous, and therefore relied heavily on the integrity and character of other cowboys working with him. No man would ride with another that could not be trusted. One of their core values was honor. To earn respect and be known as a man of honor, you must prove yourself as being worthy of trust. You must be someone that can be counted on and one that keeps their word. If a cowboy said he would do something, there was no doubt he would. Failure to keep their word was as bad as lying or cheating. In the movie Lonesome Dove, Woodrow Call must keep a promise to his friend Gus.  After driving their herd...

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BE TOUGH BUT FAIR

It goes without saying that the demanding job of a working cowboy on the open range, required him to be as tough as nails.  The cowboy was not only physically and mentally tough, he also stood tough for his principles and values. Their code of conduct was highly respected, and necessary for survival in the unsettled West, where frontier justice was the norm.   The cowboy was a man of honor. He felt a moral obligation to give those he encountered a square deal, and relied on others to treat him the same way. He lived by the rule, “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.” There are many stories from the Old West of hungry travelers...

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DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE

When I first read this code, I had visions of cowboys riding out into blizzard conditions to search for stranded cattle or lost calves, risking their lives fighting off cattle rustlers, or any number of the tough duties that comprise being a cowboy. Though all these jobs had to be done, this code more accurately portrays what you stand for, and how much you will risk to keep it in tact. One of my favorite movies Open Range, is a great example of standing up for what is right. Boss and Charley have been grazing cattle for over 10 years. They have a run-in with a rancher that hates free grazers, and tells them to move on, or they will...

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