Cowboy Bob's Dictionary

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Cache - (Pronounced "kash") A place to store or hide things; the act of concealing things. A food cache

Cahoots - A collaboration, generally of a secret or questionable nature.

Calaboose - Jail. (See Hoosegow.)

Calf - The young offspring of a cow; a young "bovine."

Calf Roping - Derived from the skills needed at branding time, Calf Roping is a rodeo event where a cowhand ropes a calf, dismounts, and hog-ties three of the calf's legs with a "piggin' string." Also known as Tie-Down Roping

Calf Wagon - A wagon which carried calves on a cattle drive during the day. The calves were then released to their mothers to nurse at night.

Calico - 1. A white and roan pinto horse. 2. A course fabric having brightly colored sections or patches, often in a plaid or checkered pattern.

California Sorrel - A horse color identical to Palomino.

California Style Reining - A method of holding the reins in which the reins enter the hand from below and leave between the thumb and index finger. The reining action is similar to that of operating a joy-stick. It has the advantage of keeping the hand in a more normal position, rather than requiring the wrist to be turned forward. Holding the reins California style

California Widow - A woman separated from her husband, but not divorced, when her spouse went West to seek a better life, intending to send for her at a later date. Also called a "Grass Widow."

Camas - A perennial lily-like plant with a cluster of bright blue flowers and producing an extremely sweet bulbous root. This plant was highly prized by Indians of the American Northwest, and several wars were fought over prime camas growing areas. Camas Flower

Candle - A stick of wax or tallow with a wick in the middle used for illumination, (See also "Worth the Candle".)

Candy Wagon - A vehicle that hauls grub and other supplies to line camps.

Canine Tooth - A large tooth located in the long gap (the bar) between the incisor teeth and the molars. Canine Tooth

Cannon - The lower part of the leg extending from the hock to the fetlock; the shank bone. Also spelled Canon. Cannon

Canny - Shrewd, prudent, astute, careful, steady. "He's a canny horse trader." Probably derived from the Scottish word "ken," meaning to know.

Canter - A smooth 3-beat gait; between a trot and a gallop; synonymous with "Lope."

Cantle - The raised part at the back of a saddle seat bridging the two sides of the saddle tree. Derived from the obsolete English word scantling meaning a fragment or portion. Cantle on a saddle

Cap and ball revolver - A muzzle loading pistol with the charges ignited by percussion caps on the rear of each chamber. Cap and ball pistol

Caprock - A rock layer that is more resistant to weathering than the layers located beneath it; the top rock layer of a mesa. Caprock

Carryall - A light covered carriage, having four wheels and seats for four or more persons, usually drawn by one horse.

Cask - A cylindrical wooden vessel normally used to hold liquids. A cask may be larger or smaller than a barrel. Water cask on a chuck wagon

Cast - A horse or cow that has fallen (usually violently) and is unable to get up. "The sick pony was cast in its stall." A bull cast in a chute

Cat Hams - In cattle or horses, an incurving of the rear line of the thigh; a lack of muscling in the thigh area resembling a cat's hamstrings.

Catalog Woman - A woman who sought a mate by placing an advertisement in a catalog published by a matrimonial bureau. Subsequent courtship was conducted through an exchange of letters and photographs. If successful in her search, she became a "Mail Order Bride."

Catamount - The cougar, a wildcat native to the Americas. Also known as a mountain lion, puma, panther, mountain screamer, painter, lynx, the American lion, and more than 30 other names. Catamount

Catarrh - A cold or case of influenza; an inflammation of nose and/or throat.

Catawampus - Askew; awry; positioned diagonally or crosswise. Often misspelled cattywampus, caddy wampus, or katty wampus.

Catch Lot - A set of fences where riders can sort various types of cattle from the rest of the herd. Also called a Ketch Lot.

Cattalo - A hardy breed of cattle resulting from crossing domestic cattle with the American buffalo; it yields leaner beef than many conventional breeds. Also called "Beefalo."

Cattle guard - A set of horizontal rails placed across a road at a fence opening to prevent cattle from crossing. The device works so effectively that sometimes simple alternating black and white stripes painted across a paved surface will also do the job. Cattle guard

Cattle stiff - A cowboy.

Cattler - A cowhand.

Cavesson - A kind of noseband used in breaking and training horses, used as a point of attachment for a martingale or a leading shank. Derived from the Italian word "cavare" meaning "to draw." Also spelled Cavezon or Caveson. Cavesson

Cavvy - The herd of horses from which a cowboy selects his mount for the day. Cavvy of horses

Cayuse - A nondescript range horse, probably derived from the ponies of the Cayuse Indians of northwest North America.

Cell Phone - The gadget that bad guys use for callin' their lawyers from jail.

Centerfire - 1. A saddle with the cinch located near the middle of the saddle. Also called a California Style cinch. 2. A cartridge with the primer located in the center of the shell.

Chain-fire - An explosion caused when the flash from one chamber of a cap-and-ball revolver caused the powder in an adjacent chamber to ignite. A dab of grease was placed over the front of each chamber to prevent such disasters.

Chain Trace - Harness trace made of chain for strength and durability. Draft horse using chain traces

Chap Guard - A projection on top of the spur shank to prevent the chap from interfering with the rowel and the rowel from gouging the chap leather. Chap Guard

Chaparral - An area of dense brush or other vegetation. (Derived from the Spanish "chaparro," meaning "scrub oak.") Cactus, mesquite and thick chaparral

Chaps - Protective leather coverings for the legs. (Pronounced "shaps") A shortened form of the Spanish word "chaparejos," a type of leather leggings worn as protection from brush, rain, etc. Chaps

Charlie Taylor - A butter substitute made of sorghum molasses or syrup mixed with bacon or ham grease. The origin of the term is unknown.

Chawbacon - An uneducated rustic; a hayseed.

Cheeking - An old-time method of keeping a horse from bucking until the rider is mounted. The rider holds the cheek piece of the bridle while mounting, thus pulling the horse in a tight circle to the left.

Chestnut - 1. A horse color ranging from a red-yellow to golden-yellow. The mane, tail, and legs are usually variations of the coat color. Essentially synonymous with the color sorrel. 2. Horny, irregular growth found on the inside of a horse's legs. Chestnut on horse's leg

Chew Gravel - To be thrown from a horse or bull and land face down in the dirt. A bronc rider chewing gravel

Chew the fat - To have a leisurely or casual conversation; friendly gossip or small talk.

Cheyenne Roll - An extension at the rear of the cantle that strengthens the cantle and provides a better grip of the cantle. Cheyenne roll

Cheyenne Saddle - A double-rigged saddle with two squared-off skirts and a Cheyenne Roll on the cantle. Also called a Great Plains Saddle.

Chicago Screw - A fastener consisting of a flanged barrel nut post and a flanged screw; commonly used for connecting pieces of tack, such as attaching a headstall to a bit. It was first manufactured and marketed in the 1870s by the Chicago Screw Company. Chicago screws with headstall and bit

Chicken Strap - See Night Latch.

Chinampo - (Pronounced "chee-NAM-po"). See Corriente.

Chinks - Short chaps, usually fringed and stopping just below the knee. Generally worn during warm weather. Chinks

Chinook - Warm, dry wind that originates on the leeward slopes of mountains.

Choking the apple - Gripping the saddle horn or the pommel. Derived from the fact that the word "pommel" comes from the Latin word pomum, meaning "apple" or "swelling."

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - See "Heaves."

Chouse - 1. To cheat, trick, or defraud; as in "to chouse someone out of his money." [Also to impose on]
2. To harass or keep roiled up; as in "Donít chouse the stock!"

Chuck - Food, grub. Cattle drive chuck being cooked

Chuckwagon - A wagon used on cattle drives or roundups to carry food, utensils, camping gear, etc. Chuckwagon

Chuckwagon chicken - Bacon. Also called "Sowbelly."

Chute - A narrow enclosure with gates in two or more places, used to confine and direct livestock. Horse in a rodeo chute

Chute Boss - The rodeo employee in charge of running the horses, bulls, and other animals through the chutes in the correct sequence. A rodeo Chute Boss

Cinch, cincha - 1. A strap attached to the saddle that goes under the horse's belly to keep the saddle in place. It usually consists of a latigo, girth and billet. 2. Something that is easy to do 3. As a verb, cinch means to tighten something like a rope or strap around an object. For example: "I cinched up my belt." Cinch showing the latigo and girth

Cinch ring artist - A rustler skilled at using a hot cinch ring to change a brand.

Cinch Rope - A bull rider's cinch, usually equipped with a couple of large bells to encourage the bull to buck more. Also called a "Bull Rope." Cinch Rope on a bucking bull

Cinch Strap Holder - See Latigo Keeper.

Cirque - (Pronounced "surk") A steep-walled, amphitheatre-like hollow, formed by erosion at the head of a glacier. Cirque

City Slicker - A city dweller with smooth -- or "slick" -- manners and dress. The term may also refer to the slicked-down hair of many city-dwellers as opposed to the unruly and generally uncombed hair of most cowhands.

Claybank - A pale red dun color without black points.

Clean out - When a roped calf is thrown cleanly to the ground with its legs out in one direction, it is described as being "cleaned out."

Cliff Dwelling - A rock or adobe dwelling built in a sheltered cavity in the side of a cliff. Cliff Dwelling

Clinch Cutter - A blacksmithing tool consisting of a blade on one end and a pritchel on the other. The blade is used to cut or lift the bent-over "clinch" at the end of a horseshoe nail. The pritchel is used for opening or resizing horseshoe nail holes. Clinch Cutter

Clodhopper - 1. A farmer, as in one who hops the clods of dirt produced by a plow. 2. A clumsy, unsophisticated individual.

Clove Hitch - A knot often used to tie a rope or lariat to a post. It consists of two opposed half hitches around an object. Along with the bowline and the sheet bend, it is considered by many to be one of the most essential knots. Clove Hitch

Cocinero - (Pronounced koh-see-NAY-roh.) A Spanish word meaning a male cook.

Coffee Pot - Cowboy slang for a steam locomotive.

Coggins Test - A blood test to detect the Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) virus. Developed by Dr. Leroy Coggins in the 1970s, this test is the only method to detect the virus in otherwise healthy-appearing horses. Commonly done on an annual basis, a current negative Coggins certificate is frequently required for admission to horse shows, transporting across state lines, or sale of a horse.

Coil - A lasso -- the rope being kept coiled except when in use. A coiled lasso

Cold as a Wagon Tire - Dead.

Cold Backed - A horse that has a tense, rigid back when it is tacked up and first mounted.

Cold Flour - A dry mixture of corn meal with a little sugar and cinnamon added. It could be cooked as corn meal mush; eaten cold with some water added; mixed with a larger amount of water and drunk; or cooked as thick mush, allowed to stiffen, sliced and fried in a liberal amount of pork grease. It ranked among the best survival foods for a traveling pioneer. Cold Flour

Cold-jawed - Unresponsive or resistant to the bit; hardmouthed; likely to get the bit in his teeth and run with it.

Coldblood - A draft horse breed with a docile temperament. The designation is not related to the animal's body temperature.

Colic - An equine bellyache.

Colt - 1. A male horse between the ages of birth and 4 years.
2. A revolving firearm of the style invented by Samuel Colt (1814-1862).

Colt Single Action Army - A six-shot .45 caliber revolver manufactured Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company. Initially called the "New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol," from approximately 1873 to 1892 it was the standard military service revolver in the United States. Colt Single Action Army revolver

"Come to Jesus" Talk - An earnest, straightforward confrontation, designed to correct some "sinful" behavior of either a human or an animal. Derived from the no-nonsense approach of 19th century frontier preachers, a "Come to Jesus" talk goes right to the heart of the matter with a sincere "straighten up or else" attitude. "After that dumb hoss bucked me off twice in one morning I took him out to the round pen and had a little 'Come to Jesus' talk with him." The phrase may also be derived from Mark 5:15 where Jesus' miraculous taming of a wild, uncontrolled hermit amazed all on-lookers: "And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid."

Community loop - A large loop thrown at stock by a roper without aiming at any specific animal.

Concha - A shell-like decorative round leather or metal disk. Concha and saddle strings

Concord Coach - A stagecoach manufactured by the Abbot Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire. Favored by Wells, Fargo & Co. and other Western lines, the Concord had a body with a rounded bottom suspended on heavy leather shock absorbers called "thoroughbraces." The rocking motion produced by this suspension caused Mark Twain to dub the one ton conveyance a "cradle on wheels." Concord Coach

Conestoga Wagon - A specific style of covered wagon. It is a heavy, broad-wheeled covered freight carrier used extensively during the late 1700s and 1800s in the United States. It was large enough to transport loads up to eight tons, and was drawn by four to eight horses, mules, or oxen. It originated in the Conestoga Valley near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, no later than 1717. Conestoga Wagon

Conk - A human head. Sometimes used in reference to a hat.

Conk Cover - A hat.

Consumption - An old name for tuberculosis.

Cookie - A Ranch or cattle drive cook.

Cookie Duster - A mustache large enough to dust the top of a cookie while it's being eaten. Cookie Duster

Cool as a Steer's Nose - Not easily perturbed or excited; calm and collected; unflappable.

Coolie - 1. An Oriental word refering to a worker who is hired for heavy manual labor; in North America the word is generally considered to be derogatory. 2. A common misspelling of "Coulee."

Coonie - A cowhide stretched below the box of a wagon, used for carrying fuel and other supplies.

Coosie - A ranch cook. An abreviated form of the Spanish word "Cocinero," meaning a male cook.

Copper Riveted Cinch - Something that is absolutely certain or easy to do. It is a Western play on words based on two meanings of the word "cinch" -- "to hold," and the belly strap that holds a saddle on a horse -- as in, "It was a copper riveted cinch that Alan would win the saddle bronc event." A cinch strap attached to the saddle ring by use of copper rivets is much less likely to come loose than one attached by the more common method of a leather lace.

Corduroy Road - A road constructed with logs laid side by side, usually over swamps or marshy places. Civil War engineers building a corduroy road

Corn Dodger - A small oval cake of corn bread fried in a skillet, boiled as a dumpling, or baked in an oven. Also called corn-pone or hoe-cake.

Corona Pad - A saddle pad cut to fit the shape of the saddle; it has a large colorful roll around the edge. Corona Pad

Coronary band - See "Coronet."

Coronet - The band between the pastern and the hoof; the area directly above the horse's hoof. Also called the coronary band.

Corral - An enclosure designed for holding livestock. Cattle being herded into a corral

Corriente - Small cattle of indiscriminate breeding, especially those descended from early feral Spanish cattle; a Spanish word meaning common or ordinary. They also known as "Criollo" or "Chinampo Cattle." In Florida relatives of the Corrientes are known as "Cracker Cattle" or "Scrub Cattle." In Louisiana they are commonly called "Swamp Cattle." Many cattle used in rodeo roping and penning events are Corrientes.

Coulee - A dry wash, deep gulch, or ravine.

Cow Brute - A euphemism for a bull; used in the presence of women or other polite company. See "Surly."

Cow Chip - Dried cow manure, especially when used for fuel.

Cowboy Christmas - The Fourth of July weekend. So called by rodeo contestants because there is so much prize money to be won at the numerous rodeos held during this time.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting - A competition in which riders use firearms loaded with specially designed blanks to shoot at ten reactionary targets (such as balloons) from horseback while riding a specified course of travel or an old west type scenario. To maintain historical authenticity, only originals or reproductions of 1800s firearms and attire are generally allowed. Cowboy Mounted Shooting contestant

Cowboy up - A phrase indicating that a rodeo competitor is mounted and ready for the gate to open. Used as a verb, it means to be prepared physically and mentally for some difficult or dangerous undertaking. "C'mon, cowboy up for the job; you can do it!" (See Q&A 206. What does Cowgirl Up mean?.)

Cow-hunt - An early name for a gathering of cattle; used before the word "round-up" was coined.

Cow Poke - The same as "Cow Puncher".

Cow Puncher - A cowboy; so called because of the common use of goads (metal-tipped poles used for poking cattle to get them to move).

Coyote - A small buff-gray to reddish-gray wild dog native to North America (Canis latrans). It is closely related to, but smaller than, the wolf. Coyote

Coyotero - A member of the southern division of the White Mountain group of the Western Apache Indians. The name is also occasionally used to refer to Apaches in general.

Cracker - Southeastern U.S. cowhand, so named after their use of "cracking" whips in driving cattle.

Crest - The top of the horse's neck where the mane grows.

Cracker Cattle - See Corriente.

Cribbing - Among horses, a compulsive behavior which involves grabbing a solid object, such as a manger, stall door, or fence rail, with the teeth, arching the neck, pulling against the object, and sucking in air. The chewing and subsequent belching seem to produce endorphins - powerful chemicals that affect the brain's pleasure centers. Derived from the word "crib" -- a manger or rack for feeding animals -- since the crib was one of the common items on which a horse would chew. Cribbing is often confused with simple wood-chewing. (See Q & A #28.)

Cricket - A single roller within the port of a curb bit intended to encourage salivation and ease the bit's movement on the horse's tongue. The name comes from the fact that it often produces a rattling or cricket-like sound when the horse moves it. Cricket on a curb bit

Criollo - (Pronounced "kre-OH-yo"). See Corriente. Also a small, sturdy horse of South America, descended from Spanish and Portuguese horses.

Critter - Any variety of creature, especially a domestic animal.

Crop - (Also sometimes called a "bat.") A short whip used primarily in English style riding. A short crop with a "popper" at the end is used in hunt seat. A longer crop that is thin, tapered, and without the "popper" is used in saddle seat. Derived from an old French word croupe, referring to a horse's rump. Riding crop

Cross-Ties - A method of tethering a horse using two ropes or ties, one on each side, connected to solid posts or walls. A cross-tied horse

Crow Bait - A worn-out, emaciated horse that is likely to become carrion soon - and therefore attractive "bait" to crows.

Crow Hop - Stiff legged jumps by a horse that doesn't know how to buck. Crow-hopping bronco

Crum - A bedbug; a louse or lice.

Crum Incubator - A sugan or a bed in a bunkhouse; a breeding place for lice.

Crupper - A leather loop that goes around the base of the horse or mule's tail to keep a saddle, harness or other equipment from sliding forward. (Rhymes with "supper.") Crupper on a horse

Cull - To eliminate inferior or undesirable animals from a herd.

Curb - Also Curb Chain or Curb Strap. 1. (noun) A chain or strap attached to a horse's bit and passing under the jaw. The pressure exerted by the curb can be extremely painful and can even damage the jaw.
2. (verb) To hold in restraint; to hold or keep within limits in the same way that a Curb restrains a horse's desire to disobey the rider.
Curb Strap on a curb bit

Curb Bit -- A bit with a solid mouthpiece, a curved port in the middle of the mouthpiece and shanks for use with a curb strap or chain. Curb Bit

Curried Wolf - A man who is civilized enough to get along in society, but who can quickly turn deadly -- just as a "tame" wolf might be domesticated enough that you could use a curry comb to give its coat a nice appearance while it still carries a dangerous wild nature under that coat. (Sometimes mis-pronounced as "Curly Wolf.")

Curry - 1. To brush with a comb; to rub or stroke. 2. To give a neat appearance to something, especially by rubbing or stroking. Currying a horse with a currycomb

Cushing's Disease - Aka Equine Cushings or Equine PPID. An endocrine disease of middle aged or older horses. The most common symptom is an inability to shed the shaggy winter coat. Other symptoms include laminitis, lethargy, increased thirst and urination, and muscular atrophy. Caused by a benign tumor on the pituitary gland, the disease can be treated with long-term medication. Cushings is often associated with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). Cushing's Disease

Cut sign - to find a sign or clue.

Cutter - A small, light one-horse sleigh with large, curling runners in front. Cutter

Cutting horse - A horse trained to cut cows out of a herd.

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