Cowboy Proverbs

Cowboys — the very mention of the word stirs the imagination. From the earliest days of film, cowboys have been the subject of many a Hollywood movie. As a kid, I loved cowboy movies and made it a goal to watch every movie that featured John Wayne. I still enjoy watching the Duke’s movies.
the-commancheros-the-dukeMy grandfather was born and raised on a cattle ranch near San Diego, Texas. He told me stories of working as a cowhand on a ranch owned by George Washington West — the cattle rancher who developed the town that bears his name. Today, George West is the county seat of Live Oak County and regarded as the storytelling capital of Texas.

Over the years I have collected Cowboy Proverbs — practical no-nonsense wisdom gleaned by men who lived life in the saddle in rough and tough places. While on a trip to Big Bend, my wife and I discussed what the Old Testament Book of Proverbs might have looked like if it had been written by cowboys instead of guys like Solomon.

Here is a sampling of some my favorite Cowboy Proverbs and companion wisdom from the Old Testament Book of Proverbs. Striking similarities.

• Never miss a good chance to shut up. | “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28

• The best way to keep your word is not to give it foolishly. | “It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,” and to reflect only after making vows.” Proverbs 20:25

• Nobody ever drowned himself in his own sweat. | “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23

• If you work for a man, ride for his brand. Treat his cattle as if they were your own. | “Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored.” Proverbs 27:18

• Honesty is not something you should flirt with. You should be married to it. | “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.” Proverbs 12:17

• Most folks are like a bob-wire fence. They have their good points. | “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” Proverbs 20:11

• The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket. | “Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts.” Proverbs 22:26

• Too much debt doubles the weight on your horse and puts another in control of the reins. | “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

• A person who agrees with all your palaver is either a fool or he’s gettin’ ready to skin ya. | “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Proverbs 26:28

• Don’t get mad at somebody who knows more’n you do. It ain’t their fault. | “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 9:9

• Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. | “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Proverbs 1:5

And, here is one final nugget of cowboy wisdom — Don’t squat with your spurs on!

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