CD003 Wes the Flank Rider
‘Flank Riders’ also rode on each side the herd but near the rear… about two thirds of the way back behind the ‘Swing Riders’.
Their role was to back up the ‘Swing Riders’ and keep the cattle bunched together preventing the tail of the herd from fanning out.
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.