Tools of the Cowboy

Cowboys and cowgirls, alike, spend long days outside in the elements, working hard to raise healthy cattle. But we can’t do this job alone. It takes a whole slew of tools to ensure we get the job done correctly.

Photo by Kathy McCraine

One of the most important tools is our horse. Our horse is our partner, mobile office, and catch-all for every other tool we’ll need. A horse gets us around the ranch more efficiently than if we were to go on foot and is often the brawn behind the brain when calves need to be doctored and there aren’t cattle handling setup for miles around.


Photo courtesy of Braymere Custom Saddlery

The saddle is where we sit while riding our horse. It provides much-needed comfort for both horse and rider and is also a handy place to tie on ropes, jackets, bedrolls and other tools needed through a day on the range.

Saddle Blanket
This important piece of equipment is a layer of protection between the stiff leather on the saddle and the horse’s back. Think of this as a cushy seat cover over a hard wood chair.

The stirrups are attached to the saddle and are where we put our feet to help with stability in the saddle on a long day’s ride.

This important piece of equipment runs from one side of the saddle to the other and ensures it stays on the horse while riding. The cinch is one item you want to make sure is in good shape every time you ride; otherwise, your saddle can roll right off your horse!

Photo courtesy of The Equinest

The reins connect to the bit acting as a steering wheel and a braking system. They allow us to communicate with our horse to tell them which direction we need to travel and when we want to stop.

The bit is like an air traffic controller. It takes the signals from our hands and transmits that information to our horse. The bit sits in our horse’s mouth between their teeth.

The headstall holds the bit on your horse’s head. Without the headstall, the bit and the reins wouldn’t work!

Most cowboys have a rope tied to their saddle when they head out to work each day. The rope allows us to catch a cow that might be sick and needs treatment or a calf that is brand-new and needs identification.

Photo by Dan Bell

Some folks use a dog to help gather and move cattle from pasture to pasture. A well-trained dog can be directed by voice signals to move from one side of the herd to the other, allowing the dogs to push the cattle towards the destination we have in mind. Dogs are also very helpful for flushing cattle out of hard-to-reach places, like under low-hanging trees or narrow creek beds.

Photo by Dave Schafer

Fashion isn’t the first thing we have in mind when deciding our clothing for the day. We need to ensure the utmost comfort and flexibly in our attire because you never know what might come around on that day.

Here in Arizona, a good hat is essential. Ideally, we want something that has a wide brim all the way around the head so we can keep the sun off our face and shoulders.

A bandana is also helpful in keeping the sun off our faces, but can also be used if there is a lot of dust being kicked up by our cattle.

Thick shirt
Just like the chaps help to protect our legs, a long-sleeved shirt made of a thick material is essential to help keep the prickly plants off our skin. The material choice is also important because it gets hot here in Arizona. A cotton shirt is ideal because it helps us to keep cool through evaporation from sweat while also protecting our skin from the sun.



Chaps are made of sturdy leather and cover our legs. These are extra important in places like Arizona where cactus and pointy plants tend to reign. The leather of the chaps keeps our legs from being scratched.

Let’s Celebrate Crocktober with a GIVEAWAY!

Q1SlowCookerClassics.jpgAs a thank you to all of the people who read our Arizona Beef Blog, we wanted to give you a chance to win a great prize! We are giving away a goodie bag* full of useful Arizona Beef merchandise which will include an apron, pot holder, cutting board, and a certificate for FREE BEEF which can be used at any grocery store or restaurant in Arizona. All you have to do to is:

1- Be sure to follow us on Facebook.
2- And Twitter.
3 – Then leave us a comment on this blog post telling us your favorite beefy slow cooker recipe.

Are you ready? Okay! Get entering through this link: A Rafflecopter giveaway. You can also enter via our Facebook page here.

For more inspiration to help get you through Crocktober, check out Beef It’s What’s for Dinner.

*Contest is open to all Arizona residents.

In Pursuit of a Beefy Passion

This week’s blog post was previously published on Tiffany’s personal blog, Tiffany Nicole and Co as a brainstorm during the development of a presentation she gave to the Veterinary Science Careers course at the University of Arizona.

Looking back, I now realize that I (sort of) had a cushioned and extremely lucky landing into my job at the Arizona Beef Council. I fully recognize this can be a rare phenomenon for most college graduates, but I’m so grateful for the good fortune that came my way. I prefaced my statement with “sort of” because I worked hard during my college career to make the connections and built relationships which offered me the opportunity to obtain my current position with the Arizona Beef Council. Today, I’m so extremely grateful to have been placed on this path because this job has led me to discover a passion I would never have known without it.

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and open spaces and Arizona has no shortage of those things. Growing up, an affinity for the outdoors    started while I worked at a horse training barn in exchange for riding lessons. I found myself counting down the days, hours, and minutes until I was released from the classroom and would be back outside, breathing in the scent of horses and fresh air. Caring for and riding horses is a love I began to develop as a youngster from my mother’s tales of her youth spent in the saddle, so when the time came for me to be afforded this opportunity, I was willing to put in the long hours required. In a horse barn is where I learned how to work hard, get the job done, and do it all with a pleasant attitude. I can further credit the University of Arizona and a great club, which was part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for encouraging my love for the open spaces of Arizona and for converting my love into a real passion for Arizona agriculture.

Pictured is Kris Harris on the Quarter Circle U Ranch. She is a great example of the many friends I’ve been fortunate to make in this community.

As many young college students do, I set my sites on vet school after completing my undergraduate career. Working outdoors was one major factor in my future path, so small animal medicine just wasn’t in the cards. As a result, livestock and a large animal practice is what I wanted to pursue. I did not have much large animal experience outside of horses, so I decided to join the Collegiate Cattle Growers Association. The group owned and managed a herd of cattle and hogs, which were bred each year with the end goal of raising show quality livestock that could be sold to 4H and FFA students. We also used the animals for judging practice for the University of Arizona’s Livestock Judging Team and offered hands-on animal husbandry experiences for students. As luck would have it, this was the perfect environment to pursue the path my heart called for and I so badly wanted to follow. Ultimately, I ended up learning, by and through the people I met and the experiences I obtained, is that what the universe had in store for me, actually far exceeded the original goal and expectations I had set for myself.

Pictured with the famous Baxter Black, cowboy poet extraordinaire, and Lauren Scheller, fellow passionate Beef Council colleague.

It has been an honor to be a part of this community  and through various internships, meetings, and activities, I discovered that Arizona ranchers are some of the hardest working, most passionate, not to mention friendliest people on this planet. I also learned that agriculture was so much more than just the science, which, at first, was the personal interest I had focused on in college. It was about so much more…the land, the people, and the animals, and how they and it all worked together. Moreover, I learned caring for livestock requires more than just a focus on the animal, but a synergy with the land, the policies, the families, the neighbors, and the public. Finally, I understand that raising cattle wasn’t just a pretty photo of a grassy pasture, but a way of life and tradition, which requires all that you have to give.

I stand by beef with pride!

Although representing Arizona beef farmers and ranchers is the technical description of what I do for the Arizona Beef Council, what I am really doing is helping secure, alongside the many other organizations, ranchers and supporters of the beef community, that there is ranching far into the future. It is my goal and our goal to ensure that beef is still at the center of your great-great-great grandchildren’s plate. For me, this isn’t just a job, it’s about ensuring the open spaces stay open and the steaks keep sizzling.

Exclusive First Look: On the Road With Arizona Beef

As a perk for our blog readers, we are offering an exclusive, behind-the-scenes sneak peek look at a special video project we are working on! Lauren, Tiffany, and Ben Spitzer of Silo & Co Productions, just finished up traveling 469 miles in two days to capture the vast amount of knowledge Arizona beef farmers and ranchers have to share with the families who enjoy a delicious steak and want to know how it was raised.

The Arizona Beef Council is dedicated to sharing the story of Arizona Beef. We like to watch the short videos on Facebook and Instagram just as much as the next person, so this project seemed like the perfect way to expand our reach! Enjoy these photos from the trip and be sure to check back soon!

Special thanks to Dr. Sam Garcia of the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab, Dean Fish of the Sante Fe Ranch, The Bell Family of ZZ Cattle Co., The McGibbon Family of the Santa Rita Ranch, Bass Aja of Pinal Feeding Co., and Wes Kerr of Kerr Dairy for your hospitality and willingness to share your knowledge with us! And of course, thank you to Ben Spitzer of Silo and Co Productions for your creativity, knowledge, and patience.