Cattle Drive Positions

Cattle drives require a team of cowboys, each with a specific role.

Point man

The point man, also called the point rider or lead rider, is the cowboy who rides near the front of the herd—determining the direction, controlling the speed, and giving the cattle something to follow. Larger herds sometimes necessitate the use of two point men. An honored position on the drive, this job is reserved for more experienced hands who know the country through which they are traveling.

Swing rider 

Swing riders ride closely along each side of the herd, about a third of the way back from the point rider. Their responsibility is to keep the herd together, and they are constantly on the lookout for any animals that might try to break away. They are also instrumental in backing up the point riders as the herd turns. If the point man leaves his position, a swing rider will ride in his stead until he returns.

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Flank rider 

Flank riders ride on each side of the herd, near the rear—about two-thirds of the way back. Their role is to back the swing riders up and keep the cattle bunched, preventing the back of the herd from fanning out.

Drag rider 

The drag riders ride behind the herd to keep it moving, pushing the slower animals forward. Because of the exhausting work and insufferable dust, this unpleasant job is typically reserved for green cowboys.

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Wrangler 

The wrangler is responsible for taking care of the drive’s remuda, making sure the horses are fed and doctored. He typically drives the horses with the wagon, as his secondary duties include helping the cook rustle firewood, unhook the team, or any other odd jobs around the camp.