"Just do what you got to do and do it the best that you can."
Robby stocks up on tobacco and prunes.
Robby reviews the day's roundup.
Select another person
Robby is a modern-day "vaquero" with Mexican and Spanish ancestry. His grandfather and great-uncle fought with Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Currently, Robby is a cattle inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but ranching is in his blood. This ruggedly handsome cowboy owns a small ranch in a Texas town on the Mexican border and he is an experienced roper and horse trainer. Despite his busy schedule, Robby says he is ready to meet the love of his life and achieve his dream of raising a large family on his own cattle ranch.
"The 'vaquero' way would be just suck it up and take the pain when it comes and just don't complain too much about it. Just do what you got to do and do it the best that you can do it. Like they say, you get bucked off the horse, even if it hurts, just get back on him again. Eventually, either you give up or he gives up. They say certain horses weren't meant to be rode."
The cowboy is an essential member of the ranch operation but considered a day laborer. As "el segundo," the foreman's top hand, Robby carries on the tradition of the Mexican cowboys or "vaqueros," who were skilled riders and cattlemen.
Like the other cowboys, Robby works from dawn till dusk, seven days a week unless otherwise directed. On many ranches, cowboys were allowed only two days off: Christmas and the Fourth of July. His duties may differ each day, but generally include cow work and repairs to buildings, wagons, saddles, and other tack gear. Cowhands often spend the entire day in the saddle, but are also expected to help with ranch maintenance and other work. Robby may be asked to look after the larger animals, such as goats and pigs.
While working the open range, Robby is required to go on "cowhunts." Once he and his fellow cowboys find cattle, they must herd them back to a home range or an area where they can be tallied and either branded or tail-bobbed and in some cases castrated. Robby and the cowboys must also patrol the boundaries of the ranch for rustlers and other dangers. On the trail, days are longer, and at night the cowboys must take turns "night herding" -- watching over the cattle in two-hour shifts. Robby will also be assigned to a specific position on the herd as he drives it during the day. When cattle are well strung out they walk much better and are more readily handled.
A cowboy's horse is his best friend, and the welfare of his "remuda" -- the three horses that a cowboy rotates riding so as not to overuse any -- comes before his own personal comfort. He must watch that their backs and feet don't get sore or injured and keep an eye out for sores and bites. He should be able to correct and control his horse, but abusiveness will never be tolerated.
All ranch hands, including el Segundo, live in the bunkhouse. They are expected to keep their bunk area clean, airing out their mat and rolling it neatly, and keeping their personal possessions in order and out of the way of others. Respect for superiors and women is the hallmark of a well-mannered cowboy. Mr. Cooke expects and demands that the cowboys show deference and courtesy to himself and to his family.
Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York and Wall to Wall Television.
© 2006 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.