What I Know About Cattle Drives
Very Little
But Don't Let That Stop You
From Going On One!

Thought you should know what I know about cattle drives. My knowledge of cattle drives comes mainly from what I've seen in the movies - mainly the B-westerns. In short, not much although I'd love to take part in one.

I know that on a cattle drive there's good and bad guys and lots of cattle and that the bad guys are planning to start a stampede.

So, one piece of advice I offer is to stay to the rear when the cattle are moving, especially if it's your first cattle drive, if you aren't yet all that accomplished on horseback, or if one of the cowhands looks like a bad guy.

In the movies it's usually one of four types of people that get into trouble and fall off their horse in front of the stampeding herd. If you think you fall into one of these categories you probably should be extra careful.

  • The cowhand: - This honest, hardworking guy is just trying to "turn" the stampeding herd but his horse steps in a hole and off he goes. He's usually killed (unless it's a Disney movie) and everyone sort of mopes around for a few minutes or until they hear gunshots in the distance. Then off they ride and the cowhand is forgotten.

  • The heroine: - Why she's in front of the herd no one knows unless she's the owner of the ranch. Anyway, off her horse she goes but the hero arrives in the nick of time and lifts her onto his horse. She may get scuffed up a bit but nothing serious.

  • The hero: - No matter how much of a macho guy he is, the cattle pay him little respect and he's going to get run over by a few of them. He'll survive though and be nursed back to health by the heroine during the next 10 minutes of the movie.

  • The bad guy: - Like the cowhand, this guy's going to get killed - usually near the end of the movie. The hero may make a semi-sincere effort to save him but not at the risk of his own skin. During the last moment of his life the bad guy mouths words I can't repeat here. About all that's left of him will be his black hat.

(In the old B-westerns even the bad guys never really used profanity so what I've just said pertains mostly to more contemporary Hollywood versions where even the good guys use much more profanity than do most of the rest of us.)

So, stay to the rear, talk nice, and a cattle drive should be rewarding indeed - a great gift for your horse lover.

A good resource for finding available cattle drives is

  • Gordon's Guide to Horseback Riding Holidays where you'll find a listing of cattle drives and working cattle ranches in North America. Also lited are horsepack trips, trail rides and wagon train vacations.

    And that's what I know about cattle drives. If you go on one I'd love to hear of your experience - stampede or not.

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