Cowboy Etiquette

Cowboys have always fascinated me and one of the reasons is their ways of showing respect to others. Sure they have rough edges and aren’t perfect, like everyone else. But many real cowboys still follow certain rules of etiquette that have come down through generations.



Here are some of the basic cowboy code rules:

  1. Don’t handle another person’s horse, saddle or tack.
  2. Don’t borrow someone else’s saddle, pad, spurs, or other gear without asking first.
  3. Be ready and on time for work.
  4. Don’t ride ahead of the cow boss in charge of a crew of cowboys.
  5. Don’t ride too closely to another horse.
  6. Don’t ride in front of someone else; ask permission to go in front of another rider.
  7. The rider who opens a gate should also close it.
  8. Wait for the rider who opened and closed the gate, so that his horse won’t try to follow the other horses without the rider.
  9. Move cattle at a walk; cattle running lose weight, which is worth money when they are sold.
  10. Don’t rope animals unless you are told to do so.
  11. Don’t brand another man’s cattle.
  12. Tip your hat for strangers. Take if off for friends.
  13. Take off your hat when the National Anthem is played.
  14. Take off your hat at a burial.
  15. Tip your hat any time a lady thanks you for some service.
  16. Don’t take off your hat in public buildings, entrance halls, corridors of office buildings or hotels, or in elevators.


Cowboy Etiquette:

FAQ’s about Cowboy Hats:


Title: The CEO And The Cowboy

Author: Starla Kaye

Genre: GLBT, Contemporary romance

Length: Novella, 11K

Heat Level:  4

Publisher: Decadent Publishing

Buy Link: Decadent Publishing

6 thoughts on “Cowboy Etiquette

  1. Erin O'Quinn

    Dear Starla, what a great post! Having been born and raised in Nevada, I am familiar with some of these rural mores..the behavior of cowboys is part of their charm and mystique too.

    Normally a writer of historical romance, I have lately ventured into the realm of the contemporary small-town cowboy/drifter subgenre, a realm I know well, and I am prticularly struck by your last rule, about the cowboy and his hat. In my novel, the cowboy hero takes special pains to take his hat OFF in a small-town bar, because that’s the behavior I observed when growing up….or I thought I remembered. Now I’m having second thoughts.

    I also remember the speech etiquette of cowboys (as indeed of most of the small-town lads): deferential, low-key, almost humble.

    I really enjoyed reading this article. Wishing you tons of success (and I think that’s piling whipped cream on top of the chocolate), Erin O’Quinn

    1. Starla Kaye

      Erin, thanks so much for stopping to leave a comment. I wasn’t raised on a ranch, but I’ve been around a lot of cowboys over the years. They are my weakness.

      Hats are a big deal to them. How they are touched, taken off, placed somewhere, and how they communicate with them.

      And I always love hearing a cowboy say, “ma’am” or “darlin'”.

      I, too, wish you the best with your writing and sales.

  2. Kathy Otten

    Hi Starla,
    I saw something on TV many, many years ago where a young pretty college girl bought a blonde wig then stood at a bus stop on a busy sidewalk with an armload of books. Everytime she dropped them, someone helped her pick them up. Then disguised herself as an older, frumpy, overweight woman. When she dropped the books this time the only person who helped was a guy in a cowboy hat.

    1. Starla Kaye

      This is so true. Guys help the pretty young women easily enough. But it takes a cowboy of any age to be respectful and help anyone.

  3. Erin O'Quinn

    To Starla…l Just had to respond to your comment. I think you should devote a little space on your blog to that observation alone–the way cowboys relate to their hat. In my (still unpub) novel, the cowboy/drifter comes into a small-town bar and is noticed by the narrator, who says, “Who takes their hat off in a joint like this?” As it turns out, the character really does have a sort of complex communication with his battered cowboy hat, even though I did not have a clue about the insights you refer to.

    Viva cowboys!

    1. Starla Kaye

      I’d been thinking ab out doing another post on cowboys, in particular about their hats. Thanks for the nudge.


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