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Origins of the American Cowboy tradition come from Islamic Spain
Ronald Reagan wearing a Cowboy hat
The origins of the American Cowboy tradition come from Islamic Spain, beginning with the hacienda system of medieval Spain (Moorish). This style of cattle ranching spread throughout much of the Iberian peninsula and later, was imported to the Americas. Both regions possessed a dry climate with sparse grass, and thus large herds of cattle required vast amounts of land in order to obtain sufficient forage. The need to cover distances greater than a person on foot could manage gave rise to the development of the horseback-mounted 'vaquero'.
During the 16th century, the Conquistadors and other Spanish settlers brought their cattle-raising traditions as well as both horses and domesticated cattle to the Americas, starting with their arrival in what today is Mexico and Florida. The traditions of Spain were transformed by the geographic, environmental and cultural circumstances of New Spain, which later became Mexico and the Southwestern United States. In turn, the land and people of the Americas also saw dramatic changes due to Spanish influence.Various aspects of the Spanish equestrian tradition can be traced back to Islamic Arabic rule in Spain, including Moorish (Spanish Muslim) elements such as the use of Oriental-type horses, the la jineta riding style characterized by a shorter stirrup, solid-treed saddle and use of spurs, the heavynoseband or hackamore, (Arabic šakīma, Spanish jaquima) and other horse-related equipment and techniques. Certain aspects of the Arabic tradition, such as the hackamore, can in turn be traced to roots in ancient Persia.
18th Century soldier in colonial Mexico
The arrival of horses was particularly significant, as equines had been extinct in the Americas since the end of the prehistoric ice age. However, horses quickly multiplied in America and became crucial to the success of the Spanish and later settlers from other nations. The earliest horses were originally of Andalusian (Islamic), Barb and Arabian ancestry, but a number of uniquely American horse breeds developed in North and South America through selective breeding and by natural selection of animals that escaped to the wild. The Mustang and other colonial horse breeds are now called "wild," but in reality are feral horses—descendants of domesticated animals.
So, the next time you put on a Cowboy hat, remember that you are carrying on a tradition that started in Islamic Spain (Moorish). Similar hats have been worn by the Muslim people of the Steppe for thousands of years.
So, the next time you put on a Cowboy hat, remember that you are carrying on a tradition that started in Islamic Spain (Moorish). Similar hats have been worn by the Muslim people of the Steppes of Asia for hundreds of years.