Happy National Day of the Cowboy!

Saturday, July 25, 2015
by Patrick Dorinson

Today is the 10th Anniversary of the National Day of the Cowboy. It was established by a Congressional resolution passed in 2005. The effort to commemorate this American icon was spearheaded by then Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas.

That is only fitting since many call Wyoming the Cowboy State.

But for most working cowboys it will be just another day because as the saying goes “it’s the work and not the clock or calendar that tells you when it’s quittin’ time”.

Perhaps that’s why there aren’t many cowboys in Congress.

In honor of this auspicious occasion, here is your Cowboy Wisdom for the Week.

11 years ago a book was published called Cowboy Ethics. It was written by Jim Owen a stockbroker who was disgusted by the unethical behavior he witnessed on Wall Street and in business in general.

While he is not a cowboy himself, he grew up like many of us watching movies and television shows about cowboys like Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and of course John Wayne.

Each one of them had a code of conduct that they instilled in us on Saturday mornings and at movie matinees.

Jim went on a personal journey to write a book based on the values and ethics of the American cowboy.

What he came up with was his version of the Code of the West.

It is not just for cowboys. It is something we all should live by.



Here are the ten principles with my interpretation of what they mean..

Live each day with courage – This doesn’t mean you have to greet each day ready to lick your weight in wildcats. It simply means you should face things head on do your best whether that’s on the open range or in an office cubicle.

Take pride in your work – I remember a branding I participated in up in Idaho. We gathered the cattle in the morning and then spent the whole afternoon branding the calves. It was dusk when we finished and the crew was taking a breather before we headed back to the ranch. The dusty faces and smiles told me everyone was justly proud of the day’s work. The ice cold beer helped!

Always finish what you start –It’s been said there is no place for a quitters blanket around a campfire. Seeing things through no matter how hard the challenges is essential to leading a successful life. Besides quitting can become a bad habit right quick. And it is a habit that is difficult to break.

Do what has to be done – Mother used to say, “If you’re looking for a helping hand start by looking at the end of your own arm”. Too many Americans have become dependent on the government and others to take care of them. Depend on yourself and be self-reliant. Or put another way, cowboy up!

Be tough, but fair – Never go out of your way to look for trouble. Life will hand you plenty of it on the natural. But when trouble comes your way don’t back down and let yourself be walked on. Don’t tolerate bullies whether it’s you being bullied or someone else. And be fair in your dealings with all people.

When you make a promise keep it – When a cowboy makes a promise he keeps it. And when cowboys make deals they do it with the shake of a hand and their word is their bond. Promises and deals today are made by lawyers and politicians-two things besides skunks and porcupines you should avoid.

Ride for the brand – When you hire out to someone you’re working for them and their brand. That means you take orders from the Boss and give it your all. If you think you know better than the boss and want to do things your way you should quit the outfit and go start your own.

Talk less and say more – In modern America today there is way too much talk and what is said ain’t very important. Cowboys speak with their actions not their words. But don’t ever mistake their silence for ignorance. They just don’t flap their gums to hear them elves talk like city folks do. I would rather be ruled with a Congress full of cowboys than the jack-legged four flushers who are there now.

Remember that some things aren’t for sale – We all come into this world with nothing and we will all leave that way. Material goods will come and go but in the end all you have is your integrity. If you put that up for sale just to make a buck you will have sold your very soul. And for that you will have to answer to a higher authority.

Know where to draw the line – This is simple. There is right and wrong and nothing in between. Too many times today we see people get caught in some indiscretion say it was “legal”. But being “legal” doesn’t make it right. And if you don’t know the difference you have bigger problems.

Here’s to all the cowboys, cowgirls, buckaroos and vaqueros who get up every day and work from “can see” to “can’t see” to put food on our table and keep alive a way of life that is the true spirit of America.