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Heritage of the Southwest

             Cowboys and Cowgirls never seem to go out of style. They might fade from the limelight like the color from an old pair of blue jeans, but they always seem to come back in grand fashion. They've proven time and time again that their lifestyle and image is more than just a passing fad. .
             A fact unrealized by many is that the great cowboy phenomena of the American West began in New Mexico more than four centuries ago when Spanish explorers and colonizers brought the first cattle and horses to the region in the late 1500s. The ensuing centuries saw the vaquero (cowboy) ranching lifestyle absorbed into the various Native American cultures and continued by Anglo settlers who came in masses after the American takeover in the mid-1800s. .
             The faces of the many authentic cowboys working in New Mexico today still strongly represent this historical mix of westerners, who often don't quite manifest into the popular Hollywood image of the American icon. .
             People travel to New Mexico from all over the globe and if there's anything they expect to see here, it's cowboys - and Indians, of course. But what they don't expect to see are Indians that are cowboys, or Hispanics or African Americans or women or anyone else other than a bow-legged Anglo male wearing a cowboy hat. .
             Credit Hollywood - or blame it - for that recurring image of a lanky, slow-talking cowboy, who seems to be everywhere - just like good ol' Billy the Kid who put naughty New Mexican cowboys on the map. But not all of our cowboys fit the Hollywood bill. In fact, some of our authentic wranglers don't even wear cowboy hats or boots while they're in the saddle (or a pickup truck). But don't get us wrong, most New Mexico cowboys still proudly don the traditional Stetson and bask in the cowboy image. .
             That's the beauty of being a real cowboy. You don't have to look like one or be born in the saddle. Any working cowboy or rancher will tell you that it's a profession that can be learned, but usually not without a few hard knocks.

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