The origins of the cowboy tradition come from Spain, beginning with the hacienda system of medieval Spain. This style of cattle ranching spread throughout much of the Iberian peninsula, and later was imported to the Americas.
In the Wild West, it was most common for 6-shot revolvers to only be loaded with 5 rounds (the ‘Cowboy Load’). A live bullet in the chamber below the hammer of a 19th century single-action revolver can be set off with a sharp knock, hence it was not desirable to carry one fully loaded.
Up to 25 percent of cowboys in the West during the later 19th century were black. Former slaves or born into a formerly enslaved family, they worked in an industry that despite facing inevitable racism was a generally less discriminatory than other industries at the time.