National Day of the Cowboy

Today is the National Day of the Cowboy — a day to honor the hardworking men and women who have become a symbol of the American West.

Reportedly, the era of the cowboy began after the Civil War in Texas.  As the country expanded, the demand for beef in the northern territories and states increased and Texas had plenty of cattle roaming wild and free. Cowboys moved the herds on long drives to where a profit could be made from their efforts.

The life of a cowboy required a certain skill set, especially in an untamed frontier. They had to be tough and willing to work long, hard hours, but loyalty and respect played a key in their success, too.

A cowboy’s love of land and country have become a symbol and example we all can appreciate.

Cowboys have always held a special place in my heart, even from my earliest years growing up on a farm where I always had a horse to ride.


My oldest brother is a cowboy (that’s him holding me in the photo above. I can’t decide if he’s terrified I’m going to do something before Dad can take the photo, skeptical of my ability not to slobber on his boots, or if perhaps a bit indulgent about holding his baby sister.)

I was a little older when he started working at remote ranches in the middle of nowhere. He would spend weeks (and what sometimes seemed like months) there then would arrive home for a short visit, sharing exciting adventures that captured my interest. Once in a while, he’d bring along a fellow cowpoke in need of a home-cooked meal and a few days of rest before they headed back to the ranch. They always smelled like sagebrush, leather, horses, and sunshine — a scent I still love.

When I began writing sweet romances, it seemed quite natural to write about cowboys as the heroes. Some of my stories take place in historical settings, others are contemporary, but the common thread is that the men live by a code I always associate with cowboys (and if you wanted to compare it to the code of knights, I think you’d find some interesting similarities).

Although the code may vary a little, the basics of it are:

1. Live each day with courage

2. Take pride in your work

3. Always finish what you start

4. Do what has to be done

5. Be tough, but fair

6. When you make a promise, keep it

7. Ride for the brand

8. Talk less and say more

9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale

10. Know where to draw the line


Whether the cowboys working on a ranch for a living or riding in the rodeo, the majority of those I know do their best to follow those guidelines every day.

And I”m grateful to the cowboys (and girls!) who inspire me, inspire my stories. In fact, each year, I hold a campaign to raise funds and awareness of the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.  This year’s Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign will begin October 1 and run through December 24. You can read more about it right here on my website.


If you’re like me and there is something about seeing a cowboy in a pair of dusty boots with his hat settled on his head just so that makes your heart pitter-patter, I hope you’ll join me today in celebrating the National Day of the Cowboy.  Watch a western movie, read a book about a cowboy, go to a rodeo or visit a cowboy museum. However you spend the day, think about those hard-working folks who continue to be a wonderful symbol of the American West.

And while you’re here, enter to win this giveaway I’m doing in honor of National Day of the Cowboy. Just post a comment sharing your favorite cowboy (can be a real or fictional character!).

One randomly selected winner will be notified Tuesday, July 30 ,2019.

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