Loose Ends: Seeking cowboy culture class

The life of the cowboy has been examined by academics, emulated by Old West enthusiasts and more recently become part of one Western Slope school district’s middle school curriculum. Many of the agriculturally-based communities in our region have turned to their ranching roots to pass on life lessons to their youth, but Berry Creek Middle School’s recent class on the cowboy culture was a new twist.
According to an article in Sunday’s Denver Post, taking advantage of the area’s cowboy culture was only natural for the school. The project was the brainchild of a staff member, who felt that her experience with barrel-racing and team roping could offer some important life skills to her students. The spring project involved a group of students riding and roping in a local arena.
A few of the tenets of the “cowboy credo”–including showing respect for others–were included in the project. Locally it is not too difficult to find some folks who practice many of the tenets of the same credo, so that is often what fascinates newcomers about the cowboy culture. Noticing how a man treats his animals is top of the list.
“Are you really gonna be friends with that old so and so?” one old-timer asked. “He has trouble getting his neighbors to help him,” he confided, “as he is awful rough on his horse. That is just not right, that’s all I am saying.”
The importance of giving youngsters a chance to experience something new such as learning to ride and care for horses should not be minimized. The staff members involved with this project mentioned that showing the kids how to saddle a horse taught them the importance of preparation in everything they do in life. They also emphasized the importance of a foundation of respect for themselves and others. Many adults assume that children learn by observing but in our changing communities, not as many children are exposed to these lessons.
Curriculum is one word that is bandied about in our concern over what is important for children to learn in these budget-cutting times. Yet, hands-on opportunities such as this “cowboy class” offer children the chance to develop some skills they will carry through life. Live in this community long enough and one phrase seems to be a part of many conversations. Put this type of experience into the local schools sometime and it will seem more than appropriate–“cowboy up, Meeker!”

The life of the cowboy has been examined by academics, emulated by Old West enthusiasts and more recently become part of one Western Slope school district’s middle school curriculum. Many of the agriculturally-based communities in our region have turned to their ranching roots to pass on life lessons to their youth, but Berry Creek Middle School’s recent class on the cowboy culture was a new twist.According to an article in Sunday’s Denver Post, taking advantage of the area’s cowboy culture was only natural for the school. The project was the brainchild of a staff member, who felt that her experience with barrel-racing and team roping could offer some important life skills to her students. The spring project involved a group of students riding and roping in a local arena. A few of the tenets of the “cowboy credo”–including showing respect for others–were included in the project. Locally it is not too difficult to find some folks who practice many of the tenets of the same credo, so that is often what fascinates newcomers about the cowboy culture. Noticing how a man treats his animals is top of the list. “Are you really gonna be friends with that old so and so?” one old-timer asked. “He has trouble getting his neighbors to help him,” he confided, “as he is awful rough on his horse. That is just not right, that’s all I am saying.” The importance of giving youngsters a chance to experience something new such as learning to ride and care for horses should not be minimized. The staff members involved with this project mentioned that showing the kids how to saddle a horse taught them the importance of preparation in everything they do in life. They also emphasized the importance of a foundation of respect for themselves and others. Many adults assume that children learn by observing but in our changing communities, not as many children are exposed to these lessons. Curriculum is one word that is bandied about in our concern over what is important for children to learn in these budget-cutting times. Yet, hands-on opportunities such as this “cowboy class” offer children the chance to develop some skills they will carry through life. Live in this community long enough and one phrase seems to be a part of many conversations. Put this type of experience into the local schools sometime and it will seem more than appropriate–“cowboy up, Meeker!”

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