It's unfortunate that your experience with a crappy ranch hand has colored your opinion of an entire group of people. That person is truly a cancer to the cowboy name and people like him are why that derogatory stereotype continues.
But it hasn't. I've met lots of cowboys I like and respect...but if someone wants to compare "cowboys" with "natural horsemanship", then it isn't fair to say cowboy only refers to good cowboys, while natural horsemanship refers to everyone who calls themselves one.
If I ever get a third horse again, I plan to call my friend with the ranch in Utah and ask him if he has any horses that would fit the bill. Horses trained by cowboys can be awesome...and can also, if trained by poor cowboys (using the dictionary definition) be in need of recovery.
At this point, I could take a green broke horse - if it was broke correctly, by either a cowboy or NH trainer - and finish him the way I like to ride. And my preference, all other things being equal, would be for a horse trained in the basics by a cowboy horseman. Maybe we could call it CH - cowboy horsemanship...a more results-oriented version than most NH, but one still taught using the basic principle of wanting a horse who is a willing partner, rather than a fearful and submissive (maybe) beast.
What got my ire on this thread was slamming John Lyons, when I have seen excellent results from a trainer trained by him. And while I like NH, or CH, perhaps we could agree not to resort to NPH (Namby Pamby Horsemanship), or perhaps better described as BSH (Black Stallion Horsemanship)...