The first cowboys came from Mexico. They were men who rode on horses and took care of herds of cattle. They were known as vaqueros which is the Spanish word for "cowboys." When the vaqueros moved their cattle north into America to graze, American people watched the vaqueros and began to copy them.
Cowboys in America wore special clothing for their jobs. They wore hats with wide brims to hide their faces from the sun. They wore chaps to protect their legs when they rode through the brush and cacti. Their boots had high heels so that their feet would not slip out of the stirrups.
Cowboys had to take their cattle to far away towns. These long trips were called cattle drives. Cattle drives were very hard and dangerous work for the cowboys. They had to make sure that all of the cattle stayed together. If the cattle got spooked by a loud crack of thunder, the cattle ran off, creating a stampede. It was the cowboys job to round up the cattle and continue to move them along to their final destination.
Modern day cowboys can be found at the rodeo using the same skills as the early cowboys of America. Rodeo cowboys wear similar clothing when they ride horses or broncos and rope steers.