50 Top Cowboy Quotes & Sayings

The Best Cowboy Quotes

A cowboy’s rugged, isolated life lends itself to many quotes and proverbs about life and love. If you’ve ever listened to country music, you have likely heard the wisdom espoused by singers ranging from Willie Nelson to Jason Aldean and everyone in between. 

What are some of the top cowboy quotes and sayings? Whether you are looking for a nugget of frontier wisdom from Winston Churchill or one of several humorous quips from Will Rogers, I’ve got fifty of the best cowboy quotes and sayings below.

Cowboy quotes are insightful and often make you think. They can also make you sound cool when you repeat them! Keep reading for a cowboy quote or two that can fit just about any situation.

Cowboy Quotes: One-Liners

If you’re looking for a quick-witted one-liner, the quotes below will surely become your next favorite quip. Some of them are about love, some are about life, and some are just plain funny. There are admittedly more one-liners than longer quotes – cowboys (and cowgirls) tend to be men and women of few words. 

I’ve tried my best to give credit to the original quote-ee, but because the life of a cowboy isn’t one that seeks fame, the origin of many Western quotes is unknown.

“Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.” – Unknown (this sounds like something out of the Bible, but probably originated from a seasoned cowboy)


  • “A cowboy is a man with guts and a horse.” – William James (Western author)



  • “If you climb in the saddle, be ready for the ride.” – Unknown (this seems to be another way of saying “if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen”)


  • “When a cowboy’s too old to set a bad example, he hands out good advice.” – Unknown


  • “I’ve often said there is nothing better for a man’s inside than the outside of a horse.” – Ronald Reagan


  • “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne


  • “A man isn’t born a cowboy; he becomes one.” – Unknown


  • “There’s nothin’ in life that’s worth doin’ if it cain’t be done from a horse.” – Red Steagall (Western actor and musician – and yes, if you repeat this quote, it must be done in a slow Southern drawl) 


  • “He’s all hat and no cattle.” – Unknown (a much cooler way to say someone is “all talk”)


  • “There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode; never was a cowboy who couldn’t be throwed.” – Unknown (cowboys are known for their wisdom, not necessarily their grammar)


  • “Life is getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.” – John Wayne


  • “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” – Arthur Baer (American journalist)


  • “Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.” – Will Rogers


  • “Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.” – Will Rogers


  • “Don’t dig for water under the outhouse.” – Unknown (well, this is certainly good advice, isn’t it?)


  • “Where the leather is damaged, there is a notable story to tell.” – Jimmy Tart (from the movie “The Outlaw Josie Wales”)


  • “Let him ride a horse. He’s a cowboy ain’t he?” – Nathanael West (American screenwriter)


  • “A true cowboy knows love, pain, and shame but never cares about the fame.” – Unknown (a fitting quote, considering the unknown author)


  • “Cowboy is a breed tougher than nails and strong as steel.” – Unknown


  • “Take my man, stay away from my horse.” – Unknown (I’d prefer to keep both)


  • “A cowboy is only half a man; the other half is his horse.” – Unknown


  • “When in doubt, let your horse do the thinkin’.” – Unknown


  • “Always drink upstream from the herd.” – Will Rogers


  • “Some cowboys have too much tumbleweed in their blood to settle down.” – Unknown


  • “Cowboys don’t walk around callin’ themselves cowboys.” – Unknown


  • “Don’t squat with your spurs on.”Will Rogers


  • “The only good reason to ride a bull is to meet a nurse.” – Unknown


  • “It’s the way you ride the trail that counts.” – Dale Evans (American actress and songwriter)


  • “A cowboy stays on the job until it gets done, no matter how dark it is outside.” – Unknown (the life of a cowboy is hard work and integrity, and rarely will you hear a complaint)


  • “Cowboys need nothin’ more than a hat, a horse, and the will to ride.” – Unknown


  • “The cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take an unfair advantage.” – Unknown


  • “You can tell a true cowboy by the type of horse that he rides.” – Unknown (I’m curious to know what the author considers a “cowboy’s horse”)


  • “Don’t interfere with something that ain’t botherin’ you none.” – Unknown (a cowboy’s way of saying “mind your own business”)


Cowboy Quotes: Thoughtful Sayings

Sometimes true wisdom cannot be limited to a one-liner, which is the case with the quotes and sayings below. These ones are similar to the quotes already listed but in a slightly lengthier format. Again, many cowboy sayings are from unknown origins, but I do list the names when I’m able to give credit.


  • “The horse is a mirror to your soul. And sometimes you might not like what you see in the mirror.” – Buck Brannaman, horse trainer


  • “May your belly never grumble, may your heart never ache; may your horse never stumble, may your cinch never break.” – the original author is unknown as far as I can tell, but this is popularly known as the “Cowboy Blessing.”


  • “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” – Clint Eastwood


  • “Life’s a rodeo. All you have to do is stay in the saddle.” – George Jung (Mr. Jung was not a cowboy himself, so far as I can tell, but rather a famous American drug smuggler. Regardless, this is a fitting quote for our list.)


  • “Work on recognizing the highs and the lows and let them be just that. Don’t give those feelings any energy, just let them pass through you, come and go.” – McKennon Kelly (fictional novel character)


  • “A horse doesn’t care how much you know until he knows how much you care. Put your hand on your horse and your heart in your hand.” – Pat Parelli (horse trainer)


  • “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers (another nugget of wisdom from our list’s apparent favorite).


  • “Always take a good look at what you’re about to eat. It’s not so important to know what it is, but it’s critical to know what it was.” – Texas Bix Bender (American author and television producer)


  • “It doesn’t matter if a cowboy resides in the mountains or the flats, as long as it’s warm and there is a place to lay his hat.” – Unknown


  • “Life isn’t all about horses and rodeos when you’re a cowboy. It is about mud and dirt and cowboy boots.” – Unknown


  • “When you’re young and you fall off a horse, you may break something, but when you’re my age, you splatter.” – Roy Rogers


  • “It ain’t where, it’s how you live. We weren’t raised to take, but we were raised to give the shirt off our back to anyone in need.” – Brantley Gilbert


  • “And my heart is sinking like a setting sun, setting on the things I wish I’d done. Oh, the last goodbye’s the hardest one to say, and this is where the cowboy rides away.” – George Strait


  • “Asking to borrow someone’s saddle is like asking to borrow someone’s girlfriend, you just don’t do that.” – Unknown


  • “The easiest way to eat crow is while it’s still warm. The colder it gets, the harder it is to swallow.” – Unknown (this is a great illustration of wasting no time in admitting when you’re wrong, and one I’m definitely going to remember!)


  • “Learn this well; the last ride is never the last ride. And the end is not the end.” – Richard Rowland (American film producer)


The Quiet (and Insightful) Life Of A Cowboy

A true cowboy may go days without saying a word to anyone, living in solitude under the stars, so it should be no surprise that real-life wisdom often comes out when one chooses to speak. Some cowboy quotes will make you laugh with the images they conjure (just imagine a cowboy squatting down with his spurs on). Others will make you stop and think for a moment, like the observations of life’s ups and downs. When that happens, smile and go ahead and share some of that cowboy wisdom.

Looking for more cowboy quotes or quotes that mention horses? Check out these articles:


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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

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My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

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