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Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.
A cowboy saying
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If ever there was a romantic symbol of freedom, it’s the cowboy and his undisputed mastery over untamed, wide-open spaces.
As for the job description of a cowboy, that actually originated in Mexico, when, in the early 1500’s, Spaniards imported horses and built ranches to raise livestock in the Americas. Those early cowboys were known as vacqueros from the Spanish word vaca, meaning cow. They were herdsmen, overseeing enormous herds of cattle and in the process of tending them became expert horsemen, as well as outstanding ropers, skills that are still in demand today by cowboys working cattle from the back of a horse or competing in rodeos.
As time passed the size of cattle herds on the North American continent grew exponentially, spreading across the American west and ultimately the Canadian west. At the centre of that bovine tidal wave were the cowboys who handled them. Also called cowhands, cowpokes, cowpunchers or buckaroos, theirs was an often lonely and always demanding lifestyle, time spent on the open range and in cow camps, or on ranches, with plenty of hard work and long hours for little pay. They distinguished themselves by their fierce devotion to the work they loved, living by the unspoken cowboy code, or the code of the west, that included living each day with courage, taking pride in what they did, being tough but fair, and knowing where to draw the line.
As the legend of the cowboy grew, so did the lure for this romanticized lifestyle that saw men come from many walks of life and a variety of ethnic backgrounds to embrace it. African American cowboys also made their mark, such as Bill Pickett (cowboy, rodeo, Wild West show performer and actor) from Texas who is credited with inventing bulldogging, or steer wrestling as it’s also called. Unmarried Jewish men primarily flocked to the west (1849-1899) in such numbers to become cowboys that this period in western history is referred to as the third golden age of Jewish history. High-profile western lawman Wyatt Earp married a Jewish woman, Josephine Marcus, and they’re buried side by side in the Jewish Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma, California.
Today cowboys, while popularized in American and Canadian western culture, are found in many parts of the world, including on the continents of Africa and Australia. It’s not only the distinctive broad-brimmed hat, boots and chaps that define the cowboy, the measure of the man has always been what’s in his heart.
Cowgirls are also part of the legend, including such notables as sharp shooter Annie Oakley (1860-1926) whose real name was Phoebe Ann Moses (some historians say Mosey) Butler. These women take a back seat to no one, strong, resilient and daring as they continue to carve their own special niche in history.
Often glamorized and always respected, every cowboy, either real or fictional, has a story to tell. Enter Dade Tanner, cowboy and cattle rancher. Rugged, dark and sexy, he sits tall in the saddle as he rides herd over an edge of your seat romantic suspense in Gold Digger Among Us, where anything can … and does … happen:
Gold Digger Among Us - Excerpt
“Finding an empty spot on one of the logs, Dade settled into it and was totally taken by surprise when the bold brunette who’d earlier grabbed at his sleeve, plunked herself happily in his lap. He’d suffered worse fates. She was pretty and making it very clear what she wanted from him as he got an impromptu lap dance to the tune that was playing on Maynard’s truck stereo.
“Hey, Sarah,” she yelled to the woman who’d been sitting beside her on the log, “I got me a cowboy….”
Faithful to the tradition of what it means to be a cowboy, Dade was born to that way of life, and he’s cowboy to the core:
“He leaned one shoulder nonchalantly against the doorjamb with thumbs hooked through his belt loops - the dust from the back corral still evident on his chaps. The sun glinted brilliantly against silver conchos on their flared outer flaps above his scuffed cowboy boots. He shifted his position slightly, a spur jingling against the doorsill.
‘You’re right, it is hot out there,’ he agreed at length, but with more warmth. ‘Maybe I’ll see you at the dance tonight.’
He studied her for a moment longer before leaving, his eyes unreadable from beneath the brim of his Stetson.”
Dade Tanner is as cowboy tough as they come, and just as purposeful when he climbs down off his horse. Kerrah knows. She’s the woman he loves:
“Dade’s bedroom was in darkness as he laid her on a hand-worked quilt. Shafts of moonlight captured him in a flawless silhouette as he stood by the bed, slowly taking off his shirt. Cowboy of the year the polished silver buckle read as the worn leather belt glided past the last notch and hung open. Weather-browned hands unhurriedly released the metal button atop the faded denims.”
Independent and determined, Dade too lives by the unspoken cowboy code. He finishes what he starts and as anyone who knows him will say, he’ll always do what needs to be done and remain true to himself. Yes, Dade Tanner is a cowboy with a story to tell, one you won’t soon forget.
For more on Eden Monroe and her Emerald Valley Ranch series visit her BWL Publishing Author page