Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Code of the West by @ShotgunBoRivers

Guest Post by Shotgun Bo Rivers

Shotgun Bo Rivers
Although no written rules ever existed, the pioneers and settlers who went west found one common ground, how they lived their lives from day to day. With little or no laws in the west for a man to follow, they were forced to make their own set of guidelines, a code of the west, as it was first called in Zane Grey’s 1934 novel The Code of the West.

The code I choose to follow was written by James P. Owen in 2003. When Mr. Owen found he was in dismay in the corporate scandals, he left a 35 year career as a business man to write Cowboy Ethics – What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West, which brings us back to a simple set of guidelines on how to live.

Throughout my life as a child, my grandpa had always taught me these core values, even before I ever seen them written. In life I have broken a few of them, but there is always a lesson to be learned. If you dust yourself off and climb back on that is all anyone can ever ask for.

If I were to make my own code of values, they would include several that other authors have at one time written. Why? Because they work. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. If it seems to be working keep it the way it is and for me it works just fine.

You mostly see me quote J.P Owens code because it is short and simple, but there are fifteen values I choose to live with, and they are:

Live each day with courage.
Take pride in your work.
Always finish what you start.
Do what has to be done.
Be tough, but fair.
When you make a promise, keep it.
Ride for the brand.
Talk less and say more.
Remember that some things aren’t for sale.
Know where to draw the line.
Be there for a friend when he needs you.
Honesty is absolute - your word is your bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract.
Look out for your own. Blood is thicker than water.
Defend yourself whenever necessary.
And always live by the Golden Rule,
Do unto others, what you want done unto you.

My granddad had a few more, like no wearing hats at the table, and I find I still remove cover when I sit and eat out of respect for the cook. And finally no singing and dancing at the dinner table either. You were there to enjoy a meal, not fuss about. If you wanted to rut, you could do it with the pigs, he would always say.

Not only do I try to live by this code, I also incorporate it frequently in my writing, distilling certain values into each character as they are created. Laramie’s Code and Rodeo Dayz are perfect examples of those very same values I live by.

Laramie’s Code tells Laramie Taylor’s story prior to my upcoming novella series Laramie’s Thunder.  It begins with Laramie just twelve years old, who was taught the Cowboy's Code, ethics his father raised him with.  But when he begins school in the fall of 1856, he is faced with a challenge. His new friend, Bartholomew, is being taunted by three boys because he is the only black boy in school. Charles Younger's father, Henry Younger, joins his son, the other two boys and attack Bartholomew. However, Laramie, who is just twelve years old courageously defends his new friend and teaches forty-year-old Henry Younger a lesson. That lesson being to have respect for others, regardless of color or race.

I also find the code of the west in my short story book Rodeo Dayz, the courage, optimism and plain hard work it takes to be a rodeo cowboy is just as it was 100 years ago. We are the heroes not just because we have a dangerous way of life, but because we stand for something — the simple, basic values that lie at the heart of the cowboy way. Even though our way of life has changed, as cowboys we still honor and live by a code

Rodeo Dayz is a book of short stories that nine friends and I wrote together. The book isn’t what you would call a perfect book, and we didn’t want it to be. We wanted the reader to read the stories as if you were sitting at a coffee shop having a cup of coffee with us, rambling on and telling our rodeo stories to one another, the way real cowboy’s do. We wanted it this way because we wanted it raw, truthful, and exact to how we would tell those stories. The biographies in the book tell you what we go through to get to the next rodeo. Entry fees aren’t cheap anymore, and we have to find a way to continue living our dream.  

My name is Shotgun Bo Rivers.  I am an author, writer, bull rider, bronc rider, guitar player, poet, and country boy. Besides writing, I also love to hunt and fish.  I grew up in a little town called Danby, VT. At 22 years old, I became a full time Professional Bull rider and amateur Bareback Bronc rider. I found very much love and passion in the sport of rodeo and learned to respect and passionately love the animals of the sport of rodeo as well.

My favorite thing in the world is my passion for the Old West. I have always dreamed of being a gunslinger from the west, riding across the vast open range with only my horse, saddle and a tag along mutt as my best friend. Growing up, I watched western films and read western fiction books with my grandfather Ken Ford. Grandpa taught me the code of the west and told me to always live by the code. He always told me a good ole country and western song was the only music to listen too and if I found that special woman in my life to love her strong and never let go. With his advice, I have lived every day that I can remember living by that code and applying it to my writing as well.

Tom Mix, John Wayne, Glen Ford, Clint Eastwood, Elmer Kelton, Louis L'Amour, Zane Grey, Max Brand and many others carried my romanticism of the Old West for many years and still do today. The freedom of riding across a great divide or spending a month on a cattle drive with little to eat and a bedroll and a tin cup for coffee has always made my mind wander off into the land of fiction, where I ride in to save the day and gun down an outlaw before they shoot the town marshal. Currently, I am writing a western fiction novel series The Laramie Taylor series.

To purchase Laramie’s Code, or Rodeo Dayz this month visit
where you can find it in any Ebook Format needed. You can also get an autographed paperback copy of Rodeo Dayz there this month as well, limited quantities available.

You can also find my books on
Shotgun Bo Rivers
Ritchie White
or at

To connect with Ritchie White “Bo Rivers” you can contact him on;
Facebook via Ritchie White (Bo Rivers)
Twitter Via @shotgunborivers
or on his website
He loves to visit with his readers, and fellow western authors.


  1. Thank you for letting me post this week, came out as a good blog post I feel. I hope everyone liked it. Ritchie

    1. Sure, Ritchie. It was a very good post. I think the Code is something everyone should strive to live by.