Cover - Vaqueros and Cowboys

Vaqueros were the original cowboys of Texas. Vaqueros started herding cattle in northern Mexico in the 1590's. They lived in Texas a long time before cowboys did because Texas used to be part of Mexico.

Vaquero Skills

These charros participate in a charreada to show off their vaquero skills.

Say "vaquero" - VAH-CARE-OH. Do you notice how it sounds like "vaca" at the beginning? That's because it comes from the Spanish word "vaca" which means "cow." In Spanish to add "ero" to the ending makes a word mean "worker."

So...the word vaquero means "worker of cows:" vaca = "cow"; ero = "worker."

Another name for vaqueros is "charro." Today we use that word a lot more than vaquero. Try it: "CHAR-OH." Good job!

Charros compete in something called "charreadas." Charreadas give charros places to show how well they can do vaquero skills.

Vaquero Lasso

Wow! Check out that vaquero! He's making a "reata," or lasso, while standing on the saddle of his horse. Amazing!

What kind of skills? Doing things like:

  • roping a runaway calf
  • handling your horse with skill
  • getting cattle to do what you want
  • roping a wild horse

What Vaqueros Wore:


In Spanish "sombra" means shade. A vaquero's hat gave him shade - or "sombra" - in the harsh south-Texas sun. Whew! Things get very hot when you're outside working on a ranch all day long!


When he got cold, the vaquero took his serape off his shoulder, unfolded it, and bundled up to get warm.



Serape (sair-ah-peh):

Sure, vaqueros used serapes to keep warm, but they also helped with herding cattle. Vaqueros waved serapes to steer wandering cattle back to the herd.



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