I was raised in cattle country. My father rode rodeo circuit – bare-back broncos, Brahma bulls and roping. My maternal grandfather rode with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. My paternal grandparents owned a ranch. I grew up with ‘real’ cowboys – not just guys who wear the great looking hats, the awesome boots and the big belt buckles. My friends drove pickups because they needed to – not because they looked cool in them.
So what makes a “real” cowboy? It’s not the clothes, the truck or even the work. It isn’t the pedigree. It’s something deeper, something special, something that is hard to describe and yet we all seem to know what it is because we all want a part of it – which is why we adopt the trappings of being a cowboy.
I have to admit that when I saw this picture of my granddaughter and saw her excitement at going to a horse show and actually getting to be up close to her second favorite animal (a unicorn is her first – which I think probably still qualifies as a horse) – I hoped that my grandchildren would have some of the cowboy spirit in them. I think all of my children have it – and even my hubby – although they might not know it.
It isn’t their family history and it definitely isn’t where they were raised – family history only tells part of the story and they are all city kids (yes, Omaha does qualify as a city). So how could they have the Cowboy Spirit?
The Cowboy Spirit is an attitude of independence and not caring what the other fellow is doing or saying – but being true to one’s self.
The Cowboy Spirit is knowing what needs to be done – and making sure it gets done, regardless of what others think.
The Cowboy Spirit is knowing what is right and standing up for it – not matter what it costs.
The Cowboy Spirit is taking care others – especially those who can’t take care of themselves.
The Cowboy Spirit is strong and quiet – no need for bragging or showing off.
We all want to be cowboys, but it takes more than the trappings – it takes a love of life, family, nature, Country and God. It takes a fierceness which can stand all of the assaults by a world which tells us we have to conform to a certain way of living and of thinking.
Not all “real” cowboys wear a great hat or awesome boots – but you know who they are because you recognize the Cowboy Spirit within them – and you want to be just like them!