home on the range
“Home On The Range” oil painting

The lure of the Old West remained strong through the 20th century for small boys strutting around in chaps and oversize cowboy hats. Annie Oakley made it possible for little girls to join in the games as well, reining in the spirited outlaws and slapping them into the make-believe jail until their mothers called them in to eat dinner.

Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and all the other great cowboy stars of the silver screen in the 30’s and 40’s were roll models for these make-believe cowboys and girls. Saturday afternoon double feature movies were filled with kids dreaming of a Wild West they never knew. The horses played a big part in the Western fascination. Until Roy’s museum closed forever in Branson. MO in 2009, his great golden palomino Trigger, Dale’s horse Buttermilk, and their Wonder Dog Bullet, all products of the taxidermist’s art, were big attractions.

horses Matt

The TV Westerns otherwise known as horse operas of the 50’s and ’60’s were a phenomenon, with 26 Western shows playing in the same period. Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassiday, The Rifleman, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, the Cartwright family in Bonanza, Maverick starring James Garner, Gunsmoke, and who can forget Rawhide, with a young Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Gates? These are but a small number of shows still playing on the smaller channels.

Willie Nelson’s song “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” about explains the life of a cowboy. “They’re never at home and they’re always alone”. They’re a different breed. They love animals, and a horse is part of their anatomy and their family. They don’t mind mucking out stables, shoeing, planting and baling hay, working in rain or hot sun, it’s all part of who he is.

I once told an teenage boy that no one could be a cowboy forever, but I was wrong. Sometimes the draw of the rodeo circuit and the love of what they do is worth the long hours, broken bones and time away from home.

matt roping
My eldest grandson on the right who proves that you CAN be a cowboy forever and also balance it with a successful business life during the week.

We all have a second life filled with things we love to do; perhaps it’s travel, ball games, camping, fishing, and golfing; it all sounds romantic. But some people want to be a cowboy.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

12 thoughts on “SO YOU WANT TO BE A COWBOY?”

  1. Lovely mom I will forward to Matt Off to lake Louise today Having a good time Jim is a good companion Xo

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. And here I am. I had a Roy Rogers lunch box, a Dale Evans thermos, an imaginary horse named Patsy, and a fake Indian feather headdress that one of my little friends would wear when we wanted to play cowboys and Indians. We had teams, but only one headdress and my cowgirl outfit, so it could get a little confusing. There was a lot of side-changing that went on.

    Love the pics of your cowboy. Is the painting yours? It’s beautiful, too. This was my favorite song, and the reason for my imaginary horse’s name.


  3. You were a very cute cowgirl Linda! We changed sides too. My outfit was like yours even though a generation ahead. Guess cowgirls never change. I wonder what little kids play now? The tech age may have spoiled it for them. Our little guy is only 2 so maybe he will find someone to cowboy up with. My daughter has put his 7 year old sister on her horse a few times but I don’t think she begs to go back, even though they live quite near. I couldn’t wait to ride the ponies on the Pike in Long Beach, and it was especially nice to vacation where there were horses. I guess it’s part of being a Westerner.


  4. Love the concept, Katy ! – just not totally enthralled by rodeos.
    But you are indeed entirely correct regarding the place the ‘wild west’ held in our juvenile hearts … and it really didn’t look anything like that, eh ?


  5. Now you’re talking my country M-R. I’m very familiar with the photography of “Timothy O’Sullivan. I have been to Canyon de Chelly many times, and the rugged rocks have formed the background of many of my paintings. From time to time I put one in a post. Zuni mission looks exactly the same now as then. What fun to see them again .


  6. Lovely list of TV shows, Kayti, brought back lots of memories. I recall making squaw outfits from chaff bags, unravelling the edges to make fringes and chasing the rooster for long feathers! We made bow and arrows out of skinny branches.

    My grandson loves pirate stuff and was rapt when I gave him a pair of plastic swords last Xmas – well, one on its own is no good. Trouble was, one was longert han the other as Mr R’s knuckles discovered.

    A special breed, the rodeo people, tough as! šŸ™‚


    1. I laughed at your roosters running for their lives. How innovative of you at costume making!
      One of my grandsons was in love with Princess Laia (sp.) in Star Wars. They used the ‘light sword’, funnily enough no one wanted to be Darth Vader! He was one of the most interesting characters I thought. The Princess was a bit sappy. But Han Solo is another question. A young Harrison Ford was someone to contend with.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I always liked Bonanza. Oddly enough at that time women featured very little in that series. I also like a character called ‘cookie’ who was forever combing his hair. I tried to be a ‘cookie’ at dances but somehow never cut the muster. I combed and combed, flicked my hair back, all to no avail. I just did not have the cookie flair.


    1. You’re right Gerard. There weren’t many women in any of them unless they were barroom cuties or ladies of convenience. I think the appeal of all of them is that the good guys won and the bad guys didn’t. I don’t remember ‘cookie’, he must not have been my type. I’m sure you had other attributes Gerard and didn’t need the hair flair.


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