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Top Hand Cattle Co.

I'm not a rider and I haven't horses of my own. Nevertheless I have a question.

What is the Maximum weight of a rider a horse can take?

Texas state law say that I rider can way no more than 20% of the horses body weight. However, I've seen some pretty big guys get around and work just as well as others on average sized horses. Hoss had a pretty average sized horse and he never seemed to have a problem. I guess a good rule of thumb is if you think you need a bigger horse, you probably do. Most cowboys have multiple horses of different sizes and ages in their strings, not just one (Hollywood again). For example, I weigh 180lbs. My smallest and youngest is 4. He weighs about 900 lbs. The next biggest is 6 and he weighs around 1000. My third is 7 and he weighs 1200. My fourth is 9. We ran him across the scales the other day and he tipped them at 1350 lbs. I keep them all pretty rode down but not worn out.

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southplains

For example, I weigh 180lbs. My smallest and youngest is 4. He weighs about 900 lbs. The next biggest is 6 and he weighs around 1000. My third is 7 and he weighs 1200. My fourth is 9. We ran him across the scales the other day and he tipped them at 1350 lbs. I keep them all pretty rode down but not worn out.

When I talked to Dakota on the phone last night, he mentioned that while posting, he had to stop himself several times from using cowboy lingo that people might not understand. So I feel like I should probably clarify here that keeping horses "pretty rode down but not worn out" basically means that, by working them hard, they are kept at a trim, athletic weight but not underweight to the point of losing muscle tone or being exhausted. (Keep in mind that I will no doubt misinterpret something here, and Dakota will have to correct me. ;) )

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Sometimes it's faster to move bigger groups of cattle than smaller ones. If you have just a few they tend to want to split more than a larger group. It also depends on the terrain, how fresh or wild the cattle are and the caliber of help moving the cattle. The ways cattle are moved, handled and worked are different in certain parts of the country. In the north where it doesn't get hot the mentality for cow work is "it takes as long as it takes". In Texas and hotter areas it's usually get it done asap before the cattle get too hot.

Thanks, Dakota!

Let's assume it's a hundred head going from southern Wyoming to southern Utah, about 300 miles. (No idea about the terrain.) I didn't specify the season in the story, but let's say it's in June or whenever the weather would be reasonably mild. I ended up having the guy who bought the herd hire four men to help move them. The timeline I used had the guy going from a fictional town in northern Colorado to Cheyenne, negotiating for the herd, hiring the cowboys (I think I may have called them drovers--was that correct?), and getting back to the fictional town (with the cattle) in three weeks.

Break it to me gently: how many ways did I screw up? The story's already published, so there's no changing anything, but I'm curious to see how wild my guesses were so that I can avoid some errors next time.

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Top Hand Cattle Co.

Is there a pecking order among cowhands working for a single ranch? Is the new hand, no matter his age, the lowest man on the totem pole?

Sorry for the late response guys but Caesarian sections will wear a guy smooth out.

To answer this question we will lightly scrape the surface of the immense topic that is Cowboy Etiquette. It's a highly complex yet simple code of unwritten yet widely known rules for working with an outfit or other hands.

If an older cowboy is hiring onto an outfit it's usually because the cow boss, jigger boss, or the boss man himself knows the cowboy personally or has heard good things about him from other hands. See, cowboys dont get paid much at all and with the habit of traveling all the time their worldly possessions dont usually amount to much, but what they do have is their reputation. It's very important for a hand to always try to leave a ranch on good terms and to prove that he's handy enough to work anywhere. The social network of cowhands reaches far and wide.

Normally, when an older hand hires on, the younger hands will give him the respect he deserves simply because he's older. Most hands are very respectful to other hands, their horses and tack.

I guess it really all depends on what position the older guy is hiring on for. If he's gonna be the jigger boss, some of the hands might give him hell for the first few weeks just to see how much he'll take.

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Top Hand Cattle Co.

Thanks, Dakota!

Let's assume it's a hundred head going from southern Wyoming to southern Utah, about 300 miles. (No idea about the terrain.) I didn't specify the season in the story, but let's say it's in June or whenever the weather would be reasonably mild. I ended up having the guy who bought the herd hire four men to help move them. The timeline I used had the guy going from a fictional town in northern Colorado to Cheyenne, negotiating for the herd, hiring the cowboys (I think I may have called them drovers--was that correct?), and getting back to the fictional town (with the cattle) in three weeks.

Break it to me gently: how many ways did I screw up? The story's already published, so there's no changing anything, but I'm curious to see how wild my guesses were so that I can avoid some errors next time.

100 head and 5 guys? That's quite a few punchers for just a few cows. 300 miles in 21 days. That's 14.28 miles a day. If it was more cows I'd say thats pushing it. Most herds averaged somewhere between 9 and 12 miles a day but we're talking 3,000 head with 10 cowboys. Again it all depends on your cattle. Me and one other guy moved 80 head this morning a mile in about 20 minutes but all those heifers wanted to do was run run run lol.

And last but not least. Drovers were Austrailian cowboys. If you walked into a room and tried to hire cowboys but called them drovers, you would probly leave empty handed.

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Drovers were Austrailian cowboys. If you walked into a room and tried to hire cowboys but called them drovers, you would probly leave empty handed.

I wonder if the US called cowboys drovers back in the 1960s or 1860s.

Bonanza always called their hired hands for pushing cattle drovers.

The cowboys were also called drovers on Rawhide. Hmmm..,

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A quick google search pulled up a book about cowboys. According to the author, the term "cowboy" wasn't popularly used in the U.S. until 1880. Before then, those who drove cattle were generally referred to as "herders," "drovers," "rancheros," and "vaqueros." Those who actually worked the cattle and the people who employed them may have used "cowboy" but "city slickers" or farmers didn't.

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100 head and 5 guys? That's quite a few punchers for just a few cows. 300 miles in 21 days. That's 14.28 miles a day. If it was more cows I'd say thats pushing it. Most herds averaged somewhere between 9 and 12 miles a day but we're talking 3,000 head with 10 cowboys. Again it all depends on your cattle. Me and one other guy moved 80 head this morning a mile in about 20 minutes but all those heifers wanted to do was run run run lol.

And last but not least. Drovers were Austrailian cowboys. If you walked into a room and tried to hire cowboys but called them drovers, you would probly leave empty handed.

Lucky for me you weren't one of the staff readers on this journal! Or maybe I'd have been better off if you were. I doubt there will be many readers who will pick up on my glitches, but I'd rather be right if it's reasonably possible.

In any case, I'll file all this information away for next time. Thanks!

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southplains

A quick google search pulled up a book about cowboys. According to the author, the term "cowboy" wasn't popularly used in the U.S. until 1880. Before then, those who drove cattle were generally referred to as "herders," "drovers," "rancheros," and "vaqueros." Those who actually worked the cattle and the people who employed them may have used "cowboy" but "city slickers" or farmers didn't.

Here's what the online etymology dictionary says about the word "cowboy":

cowboy (n.) dictionary.gif 1725, "boy who tends to cows," from cow (n.) + boy. Sense in Western U.S. is from 1849; in figurative use by 1942 for "brash and reckless young man" (as an adjective meaning "reckless," from 1920s). Cowhand is first attested 1852 in American English (see hand (n.)). Cowpoke (said to be 1881, not in popular use until 1940s) was said to be originally restricted to the cowboys who prodded cattle onto railroad cars with long poles.

The term "vaquero" is still used. Dakota mentioned on the phone the other night that there is a vaquero where he works who is an incredible horseman. Also, I didn't realize until now that the word "buckaroo" is derived from the word "vaquero."

I'm not sure, and I haven't been able to find much on the subject, but I'm thinking the word "drover" might have been in use during the 19th century even if it is no longer used in the American cattle industry today. It might also have been one of those terms that was used more in some regions than in others, like the word "buckaroo".

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I'm not sure, and I haven't been able to find much on the subject, but I'm thinking the word "drover" might have been in use during the 19th century even if it is no longer used in the American cattle industry today. It might also have been one of those terms that was used more in some regions than in others, like the word "buckaroo".

So maybe I didn't screw up after all? What a nice thing to hear!

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Top Hand Cattle Co.

What might a cowboy typically carry in his saddlebags when on the trail?

In mine right now there's a couple 35cc syringes, a few 12cc syringes, a handfull of different sized needles, a small bottle of Draxxin, a small bottle of Dexasome, and a bottle of Naxcel. Also a tagger and a handful of ear tags. Pretty different from an 1880s hand. He would've carried a little cash, some matches, tobacco and rolling papers, maybe another shirt if he was lucky, and some biscuits or hard-tack. I'm not super well-versed in the historical part of cowboying but I can get pretty dang close.

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Top Hand Cattle Co.

I'm curious as to where the coffee pot was stowed. It always seems in TV that, although the cowboys are only carrying a bedroll and maybe saddlebags, they're always hunkered down over a fire with a coffee pot.

The coffee pot is right next to the guns you never have to reload, the rope that never misses, and the horse that never bucks and can run full out all the way to town before the next scene...

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Top Hand Cattle Co.

Tell Dakota to stop getting injured, will ya?? http://www.bonanzabrand.info/forums/public/style_emoticons/#EMO_DIR#/grin.gif

I've been inundated with tales about this kind of stuff since expressing an interest in it, but I'd like another perspective, too. http://www.bonanzabrand.info/forums/public/style_emoticons/#EMO_DIR#/wink.gif For one, what kinds of injuries do they tend to get, and how do they feel about them? Do they man-up too much and pay for it later, or do they listen to their doctor's advice? The advice of fellow riders?

How many horses does he feel a ranch would need to have to run a thousand head of cattle? Provided they didn't have trucks, of course.

Would a working ranch really have kept their horses in a barn through all seasons? http://www.bonanzabrand.info/forums/public/style_emoticons/#EMO_DIR#/grin.gif

How do they handle the various injuries the horses get?

What does he think of English saddles? Side saddles?

Is it better to be light and wiry, or big and brawny, to be a wrangler? Or does it matter?

How long does he feel you should ride at a gallop? (Thinking of the scenes where the Cartwrights ride into town at a full out gallop, hinting they did that the entire two hours)

What sort of temperment does he prefer for a plain riding horse? Working horse?

Has he ever driven a wagon?

.

The injury lists for cowboys goes on forever. Knees are pretty common. Hours in the saddle take a toll on knees. Fused vertebrae. Broken bones will happen pretty much no matter what. Take an 1100 pound animal, put a cowboy on top of it, tie a rope to a 700 pound animal and it doesn't take a mathematician to work out the odds on the probability of a wreck happening. But good wrecks make good stories, and girls love good cowhand stories ;) Theres a difference between playing the game sore and playing hurt. If the doctor tells you to lay off for 8 weeks you're probly out of a job so by week 2 you better be back after it or somebody else gets your check.

A ranch with 1000 pairs. Sounds like a three maybe 4 man job if it's all done on horseback depending on the country. If the cattle have to really travel for grass and water then the ponies and hands have to travel too. I'd say 5 or 6 horses per man, colts included. There are some ranches where cowboys make a 50-60 mile circle in a day.

No, NO, NO!!! We don't keep the horses in the barn. That's got to be to be the most gunsel thing about bonanza. That and keeping the same horses tied up and saddled day after day. Real ranches have remudas, horse pastures, catch pens and bronc pens. Even in the winter time the horses stay outside. God gave them hair for a reason. Feed them and they'll be fine.

Horse injuries can usually be solved by a little vet work and time off. (Bout to get on a touchy subject but if you live and love the lifestyle you'll understand) On a ranch, a horse is a tool. Sure, we love them and we're proud of them but at the end of the day they're still livestock and sometimes things happen. A ranch is still a buisness, and if a horse can't pull his weight it's either time to retire him or he needs to go on to be harvested to feed somebody else. If more people would witness what happens to old horses I bet we would have a lot less controversy from the tree hugging bunny lovers.

English saddles. Whew! Ok here we go. First off, everybody has their own opinions on different styles of saddles, riding, and horsemanship. I will bring up the valid point that English horses and ridden with a constant pressure on the bit, although very light at times, there is still constant contact and cueing from the rider. An English horse is never allowed to think for itself. It's always being driven by the rider. A western horse however is given a free rein at specific points in time and this allows for the horses natural cowy instincts to take over. It will match the cow stride for stride without contact from the bit. The horse is allowed to think for himself ultimately making a more confident, more finely tuned athlete.

Side saddles? Unless you're Maid Marion on her way to find Robin Hood, get a real saddle.

In my experience the lighter wiry guys seem to get along better. It's not as big of a load for the horse to carry and they seeks to make better bronc riders.

At a full on run you can only go so far on a horse. But at a lope you can cover quite a bit of ground. You really just need to use some common sense and pay attention to your horse. If he's really blowing to the point that his breathing is ragged and uneven you better pull him up before he drops.

I really like a horse that's always watching. Very seldom does anything get by him. I've got a colt right now that's just about perfect. Sure he spooks at stuff sometimes but at least I know he notices stuff. Some people prefer a really laid back kind of horse. That's probly great for trail rides and other non working stuff but for a working cow pony, you want an athlete, not a couch potato. Bone, brains, disposition, conditioning and drive/heart are all important factors in ranch horses.

I have driven a few wagons. Never more than a two up team though.

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