angle-left Wild-Rag Basics

Wild-Rag Basics

Style and functionality – wild rags not only make a statement, but are important in the cowboy culture toolbox.

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From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Ranch fashion may sound like an oxymoron, but in fact, in cowboy culture, fashion is necessary. Everything a cowboy wears has a use, and everything he uses has some sort of element of fashion. One accessory nearly every cowboy owns is a wild rag, which is a square scarf, usually made from silk or a silk blend, worn around the neck. 

The wild rag has probably always been a part of a cowboy’s attire, as several songs from the trail-driving era of the late 19th century reference a sentimental or favorite colored bandana. 

Now, 150 years later, the wild rag still has its place on the ranch and serves many purposes. 

  • A wild rag provides warmth.
  • Can be worn over the nose to keep from breathing in dust.
  • Can be wet down and tied around the neck to keep cool.
  • Used to wipe sweat and dust off in summer.
  • Used as a bandage in an emergency. 

It’s also a way to add individual style for working cowboys and ranch horse competitors alike. Here’s how to wear it:

  1. The first step to wearing a wild rag is to fold it in half and, holding it by the tails, place it in front of your neck.
  2. Cross the tails behind your neck and bring them to the front to tie.
  3. Place one tail over the other.
  4. Wrap the top tail around the bottom tail and pull it down straight in front.
  5. Continue holding the top tail down straight. The bottom tail should be directly underneath it.