Throughout the 20th century, from Teddy Roosevelt to Larry McMurty, writers have lamented the passing of the American Cowboy. Yet cowboys are still out there, tending to daily ranch chores, coming together with neighbors to brand calves, throwing a loop at weekend roping, or exercising a cutting horse. Those looking for a mythical figure need to leave the urban world and view the West anew. They will find a ranching lifestyle in which tradition and innovation blend as men and women sustain a deeply rooted heritage of raising cattle and horses.
The ranch life is more than occupation, but a love and custom ranchers have for not only preserving, but also conserving their land for generations to come. Richard Spencer, a New Mexican rancher, shares his insight into ranching and what the life means for him.
For more information on the tradition of ranching, visit the American Cowboy Gallery.