Video: Hawaii Horseback Riding and Cowboy History

Big Island Video Transcript

Darley: Paniolos are Hawaiian cowboys and if you saddle up at ranches on the Big Island and Maui, you’ll learn about the diversity of the island?s cowboy culture.

On Hawaii?s Big Island, Parker Ranch and Kahua Ranch both have stables that are open to the public. They?re located in the Big Island?s ranching area, in the windy hills of upland Waimea. Hawaiian cowboys have been wrangling cattle here since the 19th century, when vaqueros, cowboys from Mexico, came to Hawaii to help teach the locals cowboy skills so they control the wild cattle population. It was a dangerous job to capture cattle on the rugged slopes of Mauna Kea, but the cowboys succeeded and the Hawaiian cowboy was born.

Darley: So the vaquero influence is seen in a lot of places and a lot of ways up here in Waimea.

Karoll Penovaroff: Yes. In the paniolo culture, yes. The saddles that we fashioned are of vaquero influences. The kinds of reins. The way we ride. The way we sit. Our kinds of instruments- the ukulele and the guitar are of vaquero influence. They are largely responsible for the paniolo, you know, paniolo in general. They taught our paniolos how to cowboy. How to work cattle.

Darley: The early Hawaiian cowboys had a tough, dangerous job on land and at sea. Being on an island, their original shipping methods were a bit different. Cowboys would actually swim cattle out to boats to ship them off the islands. You can soak in this distinct culture and history riding at Parker Ranch and combine riding adventures with views of the Pacific on grassy hills at nearby Kahua Ranch.

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