Are cowboys really tough

The history

Lonely mountain landscapes or wide prairies, grazing cows, Indians on the prowl and cowboys on horses - this is how the Wild West of America is often shown in films!

But what was the life of a cowboy really like, and does it still exist today?

Although everyone can relate to the term “cowboy”, this profession actually only existed for a relatively short time. As the name suggests, cowboys had to do with cattle, mostly cows. Translated, cowboy means: cow boy. Their heyday began after the American Civil War (1861 - 1865). At that time, the demand for beef was growing. However, there were still no suitable means of transport to move cattle from one place to another. The first railroad lines have only just been built. The cowboys had the task of driving the cattle through the landscape in order to deliver them healthy, safe and in full to their destination. There the animals were then sold or slaughtered, for example. Far away from the local farms, the animals made a lot more money when they were sold. The work was very hard. While driving cattle for days or weeks, the cowboys were exposed to many dangers. They had no roof over their heads and had to endure all kinds of weather day and night - a real challenge! The cozy evenings under the starry sky by the warming campfire, which we know from many films, were rather the exception.

On such a cattle drive (or "cattle drive" as the cowboy says) it happened that several thousand cattle were driven over hundreds of kilometers by 10 to 15 cowboys through the wilderness. And this wilderness was not uninhabited! There were repeated attacks by Indians. The cowboys moved with the herds of cattle through their country. That also made the “cattle drive” dangerous.

Agile and loyal horses were particularly important for the work of the cowboys: only with their help could they catch lost cattle, keep the herd together and guard and overcome the huge distances.

Cattle farms still exist today and their owners and employees still see themselves as cowboys, but the work has become easier and not so dangerous for a long time. Today trucks and freight trains are used to transport cattle over long distances. The traditional cattle drive is still used today only for short distances - for example to get to another pasture. Then, just like 150 years ago, cowboys drive large herds of cattle through the landscape.