So why did it take a dramatic increase in the number of shepherds? The fact is that grass grew on the endless plains of the West, which easily tolerated not only drought, but also frost. This allowed the settlers to keep cattle on the pasture all year round. In these open spaces, especially in Texas, feral descendants of Creole cows, still brought by the Spaniards, roamed the land. It was their settlers who caught and crossed with their cattle, mostly imported from England. Thus, the famous Texan longhorns were bred – capricious, hardy and unpretentious to the living conditions of animals, with huge horns. Ranchers bred them, as a rule, only for their own needs, selling insignificant surpluses in the markets.
But the Civil War blew away these places, and the development of animal husbandry was one of the chances to restore the economy of the territories. After all, livestock abandoned during the war reached millions of heads, wandering unattended in the expanses of Texas and nearby places, at the very time when the war-ravaged country needed a large amount of meat. To catch this cattle and overtake him from here closer to the sales markets and became the main task of the local cattle producers. Moreover, long-legged and sinewy Longhorns had strong hooves, and therefore could cover long distances.
With the capture, driving cattle, and its profitable sale and the era of cowboys began. She was heavier than the daily work on the ranch, and much more dangerous. And even though they paid for the stage well enough, they had to work out this money later, and sometimes with blood. Before heading out, the young bulls were driven into a herd, which could have from 2,000 to 3,500 heads. Most often he gathered from animals from several ranches.
Ahead of the herd, always ran “ranahan” or “ranny” – an experienced cowboy guiding the leader of the herd, followed by the other animals. On the sides of the herd were the rest of the cowboy “lead riders” and “swing riders” – head, slewing and phalanx, who followed the general movement of the herd and returned to the herd of otted animals. Behind the herd watched the closing – «tail riders» or «drag riders».
During the day, the cowboys changed horses several times. The spare horses gathered in a separate herd were followed by a wrangler (Wrangler) – a young cowboy mastering the craft. If the group of cowboys was large enough, then the cook moved with them in a special van.
Already by 1870, the cowboy trails had the appearance of well-built roads up to 750 miles long and approximately 1,300 feet wide. The cattle were then driven to the railway stations at Abelin and Dodge City, where they were sold and shipped east to slaughter.