Keeping the Cowboy Tradition Alive
FRUITA, Colo. Before astronauts and movie stars came along, many kids aspired to be cowboys. While the era of the cowboy was fairly short, it was a colorful period of time. Many folks in the Grand Valley continue to keep the cowboy tradition alive. While the real job isn't as glamorous as it is on the big screen, the cowboy is an important part of our culture. Fruita resident Don West spent some of his life as a cowboy. Today, many folks call him The Gaited Guru, "Everyday we would listen to the Lone Ranger Adventures. Then go out and pretend we were all the Lone Ranger, galloping around on our make-believe horses, chasing the bad guys. It was a powerful image," said West. It was an image powerful enough to guide his future. "After all my name is West. Everyone kept saying, 'go west young man.'" For a chapter in his life he was a cowboy. West articulates many of his experiences through poetry, "I'm a cowboy, it shows in my face, a spirit of adventure that time can't erase." As far as life as a cowboy, West recalls, "Your up way early in the morning, way before sunrise, you gotta get all your saddle tack ready to go for a full day out, pushing cattle. It's a rough hard job." One that's not cut out for everyone. However, a cowboy on the outside, West was a horseman at heart, "The majority of people, what they really want to do, what they associate with in their mind is the horse. That's cowboy right there." West says the relationship between a man and his horse is like no other, "A horse is a dance partner, there's always one person that leads and one follows, but what makes it a beautiful dance is you can't tell who's leading and who's following." West believes the cowboy image will never die. "It's a man who wants to live wild and free, it's a man who has his own rules, knows what the difference between right and wrong is," said West. A wholesome figure, embedded in American culture "Whoever came up with that first, it doesn't really matter. The point is that I still believe that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man," said West. Folks interested in learning to ride with West can learn more on his website, here.