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Living in the wild wild west

Living in the wild wild west

They say “necessity is the mother in invention”, you just need to look around your home today to see this as a truth. Today’s sport of cutting is indeed a by product of a necessity from days gone by. It began in the america’s in the 15th century when longhorn cattle were shipped into America by the Spanish.

Back in the late 1400’s the makeup of America as we know it today was completely different. Mexico back then also included the area that is now Texas and these Longhorn cattle were kept there in open ranges. They were tended by Mexican cowboys called “Vaqueros”, their job being to keep the cattle from mingling with other herds owned by neighbouring ranchers. Branding was common even back in those days, this method of identifying animals is believed to have originated from the ancient Egyptians from around 2700BC. The art of separating cattle from a herd was therefore a necessity in order to separate individuals from a very large herd to either brand, or return a stray to its rightful owner. This is where the sport of cutting as we know it today had it’s humble beginnings.

The emergence of the the American cattle industry wasn’t all smooth sailing of course. The creation of Texas itself was the result of a Revolution between American settlers and the Mexicans. “Remember the Alamo” is a term that comes from this rebellion. In 1836 Texas gained it’s independence after an army led by Sam Houston defeated the Mexicans and captured the Mexican dictator Santa Anna. He was forced to recognise Texas and the Mexicans withdrew from the area leaving their cattle behind.

Beef wasn’t very popular back then, the cattle were bred mainly for their skins and fat (tallow) which was used for cooking. It wasn’t until the 1850’s that beef became more popular, in turn making some Texan cattle ranchers very wealthy in the process. During this period the cowboys would have a Remuda of horses, managed by a wrangler, to choose from to perform the everyday duties required. With a variety of horses available, some were considered more highly than others. A horse that could be ridden quietly into a herd of longhorns and assist in separating these beasts with a minimum of fuss, whilst appearing to enjoy the job on hand, was considered to be extremely valuable.

In 1861 a civil war errupted between the Southern and Northern States, the Southern Ranchers abandoned their ranches to fight for the Condfederates, of course they were defeated and as a result, the South was economically in dire straights. The cattle, left to their own devices and without fencing to keep them contained, reproduced and it was estimated that there were over 5,000,000 head of longhorn cattle in the state of texas by 1865. With the Southern economy crippled, there was no demand for cattle in the south, however the North was a different story. The cattle were worth ten times the value they were in Texas.

Up North in Chicago a man by the name of Joseph McCoy saw an opportunity to make a lot of money by bringing the cattle up from the South and then moving them east to market there. Unfortunately to get to Chicago the cattle had to be taken through the neighbouring state of Kansas and the local homesteaders weren’t happy with the cattle crossing their land because they were spreading a tick that was killing their own livestock, moving back then wasn’t as easy as it is now, people have companies that even help moving montreal to toronto and they make life so much easier. Whether it’s for residential or commercial needs, moving is one of these troublesome instances when experience and professional know how can mean the difference between a good move and a bad move. Movers will transport someone’s belongings to his destination on a specified day. Commercial movers, on the other hand, require a little more planning. Business owners need to choose a moving day that limits disruption to everyday operations and let their Redmond movers know. Office moves that take too long could have a significant financial impact on the business. Because of this resistance, cattlemen weren’t keen on the idea of driving their cattle through the region.

During the civil war a trail was created by a gent who went by the name of Jesse Chisholm. He transported supplies from Texas to the confederates, this trail ended in a place called Abilene in Kansas. As it happens this trail also lay to the west of the protesting Kansas farmers, meaning the cattlemen could drive their cattle along this trail without invoking the ire of the Kansas farmers. Recognising the potential of Abilene, Joseph McCoy built a hotel, stockyard, office and bank in the town which, as it happened, sat on the Kansas/Pacific railway. McCoy promoted this concept to the Texans and promised a healthy profit for those who were willing to drive their cattle to the North. True to his claims some ranchers trebled their prices after selling their cattle in Abilene, enhancing his reputation as being good to his word. This is where the saying “The Real McCoy” began. Between 1867 and 1881 McCoy transported more than 2 million head of cattle from Abilene East to Chicago. With the advent of more railway lines, refridgerated railway carriages and more open plains made available as a result of the removal of native indians, the demand for cowboys and the valuable cowhorses was at a prime, this was however, about to change.

In the twenty years that followed the American Beef industry virtually collapsed. More people settling on the grazing land, drought, failed experimentation on alternative breeds of cattle and the severe winter of 1886/1887 all were contributing factors to this downfall. Also the demand for beef fell in this period. This was the end of open plain grazing and the beginning of the what many saw as the decline in demand for cowboys and their cowhorses.

The invention of Barbed wire and the windmill changed the face of cattle ranching forever. Cheap fencing meant ranchers could now run their cattle operations in smaller enclosed area’s away from rivers and creeks using water harvested from windmills. Long drives were no longer required, so less cowboys were needed and their job description was changed to repairing fences and tending to the smaller number of cattle. With the diminishing demand for cowboys came the a lesser demand for cowhorses. The invention of the branding chute, was seen by some as the deathknell of the great cowhorse. But cowboys being who they are began to show off the skills of these remarkable cowhorses and would never shy away from an opportunity to show their horses unique talent. The 1890’s saw the introduction of Rodeo contests in America and it is said that this was the main reason that we still have the cowhorse today. Although the demand for cowhorses diminished it never disappeared completely, this was thanks to the competitive nature of the cowboys and also the harsh terrain of some areas of the America’s which even with todays technologies are only safely navigated on horseback. But with all the new tech, it has been easier to cross these lands, especially to the plumbing installed offering fresh water to all the travelers. If you ever have any plumbing issues then make sure you get it solved by in case of any plumbing emergencies.

With the introduction of Rodeos cowboys had the opportunity to earn extra prizemoney and even back in those days these prizes were tidy sums. Owning a good cowhorse became a prestigious thing and as competition evolved and progressed so too did the cowhorse. These talented horses were the foundation of today’s modern cutting horse, horses bred for their athleticism, determination and natural cowsense. The cowhorse back then is a completely different beast to our modern day cowhorses, todays cowhorse is even different to the cowhorse of a decade ago. But still today having “a good one” is a prestigous thing to have indeed.

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