What equipment did a cowboy have? CLICK ON A PART OF THE PICTURE TO FIND OUT MORE
The Lariat The lariat or lasso was a vital part of a cowboy’s equipment. The ability to use it effectively was essential for all cowboys. The lariat was a whip made out of thin leather. The lariat could be used to catch cattle that were running loose in a storm or a stampede. The cowboy could also use it as a whip to encourage the cattle to move. The lariat was carried by the cowboy at all times fixed to his belt.
The Gun The cowboy’s gun or ‘six-shooter’ is one of the greatest myths of the American West. Most cowboys were very poor shots with their guns. The gun was more of a status symbol worn in cowtowns as part of the image than a real tool of the cowboy’s work. A cowboy usually left his gun in the Chuck Wagon when he was on his horse. The risk of the gun going off as he rode along was too great. Cowboys might shoot snakes or injured cows, but gunfights were extremely rare. The image of the cowboy and his gun comes from the Dime Novels and Hollywood Wild West Films
The Bandana The Bandana was the cowboy’s neckscarf. Although it was perhaps the most simple bit of his clothing and equipment, it was amongst the most useful. The bandana was made of cloth. It was normally worn around the neck. It could be used as a face guard against dust storms or rain. It acted as a cloth for wiping away a cowboy’s sweat in the hot sun. The bandana could be used a face cloth for washing or a a dishcloth for the cowboy’s plate and mug. The bandana could even be used to tie the legs of a young cow together.
The Horse A cowboy’s horse was his method transport on the long cattle drives. The cowboy would be in the saddle of his horse for up to 20 hours a day. Cowboys did not own their own horses. Each cowboy would be given a string of up to eight horses for the cattle drive. The horses were the property of the trail boss or ranch owner. The cowboy would use a number of horses during each day’s ride, but usually had a favourite. One of the cowboys on the trail was responsible for looking after the Remuda. This was the name given to the cowboys’ horses as a group. Cowboys had to be expert horsemen to be able to do their job.
Chaps The cowboy’s trousers are known as ‘chaps’. They are made of strong leather. They have three main uses. They protect the legs against rubbing against the saddle on a long ride. The chaps provide protection if the cowboy falls off his horse. The chaps will protect the cowboy’s legs against thorns if he has to follow a cow into the brush.
Stetson Hat The cowboy’s hat was called a Stetson. The cowboys though referred to it as their ‘roof’. The hat was worn at all times, and acted as a barrier against the elements. The hat protected the cowboy against rain, snow and the power of the sun. The hat was made of leather.
The Saddle The saddle was the cowboy’s most prized possession. Each cowboy owned their own saddle. The saddle was shaped to fit the cowboy. It had to be extremely comfortable as the cowboy would spend up to 20 hours a day on his horse. Aside from his clothes and gun, the saddle was the only thing most cowboys owned. If a cowboy was down on his luck, he would sell everything else he had before he would lose his saddle, as without it he could not do his job.