It’s funny to think about how much we admire cowboys and their lifestyles and yet how few of us have ever actually even ridden a horse. And, I mean, really ridden a horse, not sat on one when you were a kid and had a clown lead you around a small ring at the fair.
The first time I rode a horse for realsies was on my honeymoon, the first of many new experiences that I had that week. The brochure for the island resort had a photo of a couple riding full sprint on the beach with water splashing all about and smiles everywhere, even on the horses. I wanted to give it a whirl.
The first couple of kilometers were old hat. We trod all around the island and saw all sorts of beautiful sights—herons standing majestically near the shore, alligators flopping into canals, the multiple species of tropical flowers showing off their stuff. Then came the command from our guide to “gallop.” That sounded easy enough. I was certainly ready to become a real cowboy even though I was more the size of a jockey.
When my horse heard the word, he bolted in one sudden motion and I almost flipped off his back, an inauspicious start to my career as a cowboy. After about 10 metres, I realized that I had never been taught any particulars about real horseback riding. What I mean is no one had ever warned me about the sensation of a horse’s back bouncing up and down directly into my most private areas. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! This was far short of unbridled joy. It was more like savage torture being performed by a beast who outweighed me by at least five times. Oof! Oof! Oof! Oof! I puffed as my testicles were pounded flat. So this is what it felt like to ride a horse. Did cowboys have iron-hard testicles to match their spurs? No wonder we always considered them so tough. I thought it was just the cattle drives through all types of weather. No, just riding a horse at full gallop is enough to earn any man’s admiration, and to do it on a daily basis is beyond tough.
After a few minutes of gallop, I’d had enough for the day. I’m not sure there has ever been a moment of sheer happiness like the one when our guide shouted, “Whoa!” and my 1500-kilo friend slowed to a walk. Omigod! I had forgotten what it felt like to not have nausea bubbling up from a fire pit. I had forgotten normalcy in just three minutes time.
Yeah, there’s a lot to being a cowboy. I still haven’t figured out how they do it. Either they have specially padded saddles or they stand in the stirrups during the whole ride. Or maybe they are shaped a bit differently than I.
If you can’t be a cowboy, you can at least dress like they did and enjoy the same toughness in your jeans as they have in their, uh, lower portions. Lee jeans have been synonymous with toughness and quality since 1889. Just think, when Mr. Eiffel was unveiling his tower, a group of roughnecks in Kansas, U.S.A., opened shop selling Lee jeans. Both creations remain iconic.
Lee doesn’t just make jeans anymore. The brand has spread well, into shorts and shirts that look great and maintain a portion of their Western heritage. Toughness never goes out of style; that’s why Lee is still with us. Posted by Roger Martin for Stand Out.