The vaquero (Spanish pronunciation: [baˈkeɾo], Portuguese: vaqueiro Portuguese pronunciation: [vaˈkejɾu]) is a horse-mounted livestock herder of a tradition that originated on the Iberian Peninsula and extensively developed in Mexico from a methodology brought to Latin America from Spain. The vaquero became the foundation for the North American cowboy. The vaqueros of the Americas were the horsemen and cattle herders of New Spain, who first came to California with the Jesuit priest Eusebio Kino in 1687, and later with expeditions in 1769 and the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition in 1774. They were the first cowboys in the region.
In British Columbia, Northern Mexico, and the Southwestern United States the remnants of major and distinct vaquero traditions remain, most popular today as the Californio, Neomexicano, and Tejano traditions. The popular "horse whisperer" style of natural horsemanship was clearly combining the attitudes and philosophy of the traditional vaquero with the equipment and outward look of the modern cowboy. The natural horsemanship movement openly acknowledges much influence of the vaquero tradition.