CD002 Jake the Swing Rider Cowboy
A ‘Swing Rider’ was a cowboy who rode closely along each side of the herd, about a third of the way back from the ‘Point Rider’ who led the cattle.
Among Jake’s duties are to keep the herd together and be constantly on the lookout for any animals that might try to stray or break away.
‘Swing Riders’ also backed up the ‘Point Man’ when the herd would turn. If the ‘Point Man’ had to leave his position, a ‘Swing Rider’ would ride in his place until he returned.
The peak era of the Texas Cattle Drives was just about 20 years from 1866 until the mid 1880’s. During that time a great number of herds of between 2-3000 head of cattle would be driven northwards to the markets and railroad-loading facilities by a crew of usually 12 men led by a ‘Trail Boss’.
Many of the Texans who became ‘cowboys’ were former Confederate Cavalrymen well used to a hard life on horseback and also handy with a rifle and a six-shooter. Some others on the ‘crew’ would be Mexican or Tejano and a few more might be black former slaves who knew a thing or two about handling cattle and horses.
Cattle drives usually began in the Spring after round up when grass was plentiful and the herd could be delivered to its destination up north before the cold, winter weather set in.