For decades, cowboys have lived by an unwritten code of ethics that guides how they work, and how they interact with and treat livestock, their horses and other cowboys. Much of it stems from respect, common courtesy and an understanding of how to get the job done. Below are a few important, time-honored codes.
Story and photos by Ross Hecox
RIDE BEHIND THE BOSS
When a crew travels anywhere a horseback, experienced cowboys know that the boss always leads the way. It’s impolite to ride in front of him, and besides, he knows the country and the strategy for the day’s work.
STAY IN YOUR SPOT
When moving a herd of cattle, it's important to stay in your position. If you’re bringing up the drags, continue driving from that spot. If you’re flanking the herd on the right side, don’t move somewhere else. Jim Scott, who ranches in eastern Montana, says that staying in your spot makes trailing cattle work smoother, shows respect for the other cowboys and helps everyone know their responsibilities.
“If you move, it’s not only a lack of courtesy, it’s a lack of teamwork,” Scott says.