Cowboy Bob's Dictionary

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Hack - 1. To hire out. 2. A cab, carriage, or saddle horse hired out for transportation. 3. An old or overworked horse. Hacking stable

Hack Rein - A long, thick rein, attached to a horse's halter, used by saddle bronc riders. Saddle bronc rider holding a Hack Rein

Hackamore - A halter equipped with some means of directing the horse without the use of a bit. There are two basic types of hackamore: mechanical and non-mechanical. For more detail, see Question and Answer page 181. Mechanical hackamore

Hacking - Pleasure riding; generally applied to riding on a bridle path and/or on a rented horse.

Hackings Strap - A rein. "Hackings" referred to rides on common riding horses, and "Hackings Straps" was a slang term for the reins used in riding such horses.

Hackles - Long slender feather on the necks of birds such as chickens, turkeys, and pheasants. When aroused or angry, the bird will cause the hackles to flare out as a warning to others; thus, "having one's hackles up" means an individual is angry or upset. Hackles

Hair Halter - A hangman's noose.

Hair Pants - Chaps made from leather with the hair left on. See "Woolies."

Half Breed Billet - A long leather or nylon strap -- usually five or six feet long -- which is doubled at the larigo, looped from front to back through the off cinch ring, and brought back through the larigo, where it is held in place by putting the larigo buckle tongue through holes punched through both pieces of the billet. It is commonly used when a lot of strain will be put on the billet or where only light material is available for use as a billet. (See also Billet.)

Half Eagle - A former United States gold coin worth 5 dollars. Beginning in 1795, the United States Mint produced a $10 gold coin commonly referred to as an "Eagle" because of the large portrait of that bird on the reverse of the coin. Subsequently, $20 gold pieces were popularly called "Double Eagles" and the $5 coin was known as a "Half Eagle." Half eagle gold coin

Half-cocked - To "go off half-cocked" means to take a premature action; to do a thing without considering all the facts. The hammer of a percussion pistol has a half-cock position that allows the cylinder to rotate for loading. If the trigger is accidentally pulled with the hammer over a chamber with a cap in place, the pistol could go off half-cocked. Since the cylinder is not locked in the proper position when the hammer is at half cock, the result could be disastrous.

Halter - 1. Headgear for a horse, used for leading the animal with a rope. 2. A rope used by a hangman to execute a criminal; a noose. Halter

Hame - Either of two curved supports attached to the collar of a draft horse and that hold the traces. Hame

Hammerhead - 1. A stubborn, mean spirited horse. 2. A horse having a short, almost vertical, attachment of the neck to the head -- giving an appearance as though the head were placed on top of the neck like a hammer's head on top of the handle. Generally considered a flaw in conformation because such horses often exhibit reduced flexibility of the head.

Hamshackle - 1. To fasten an animal by a rope binding the head to one of the forelegs; as, to hamshackle a horse or cow.
2. To bind or restrain; to curb.

Hand - 1. A measure of a horse's height at the withers, one hand equals four inches. Intermediate inches are separated from the hand measure by a period mark. For example, 62 inches would be expressed as 15.2 hands [62 divided by 4 equals 15 with a remainder of 2]. 2. A worker hired by a ranch; as in "a hired hand.". Horse height

Handy as hip pockets on a hog - Worthless; serving no useful purpose.

Hanging Valley - A small valley which intersects a larger valley at a level noticeably higher than the bottom of the larger valley. Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite National Park

Hanker - To desire something.

Hardtack - Very hard, unsalted biscuit or bread which served as a durable food for long journeys.

Haunch - The hip, or that part of the body which lies between the last ribs and the thigh; the rear; the hind part. The phrase "down on its haunches" is sometimes used to describe a horse that drops its rear end when stopping, or one that has slipped and fallen on its rear end. A haunch of meat refers to the leg and loin taken together.

Hay Burner - A run-of-the-mill horse, as a vehicle that is fueled by ordinary hay.

Hayseed - An uneducated rustic.

Haze - To harass or pressure into moving in a certain direction.

Hazer - A cowhand who rides along beside a steer on the opposite side from the bulldogger to keep the steer from running away from the steer wrestler's horse. Hazer working with steer wrestler

Head - 1. A single domestic animal, as in "200 head of cattle."
2. To go to or travel towards; a forward movement. "I'm going to head for town."
3. To direct the course of something; to determine the direction of travelling. "Head 'em up, move 'em out!"

Header - The cowboy who ropes a calf's head for branding or in rodeo competition; works in conjunction with a heeler. Calf-roping header and heeler

Headstall - The part of a bridle that fits around the top of a horse's head; sometimes used to describe the bridle itself.

Heaves - A chronic emphysema of the horse caused by allergies or dust, also called broken wind, Recurrent Airway Obstruction, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is characterized by respiratory irregularities, such as coughing, nasal discharge, and respiratory difficulty, and is especially noticeable after exercise or in cold weather. The name "Heaves" comes from the heaving of the horse's flanks when trying to breathe.

Heel fly - See bot fly.

Heeler - The cowboy who ropes the back legs of calf after the header has roped the calf's head. The heeler tries to throw a flat loop in front of the calf's hind legs, into which it steps and is snared. (See definition of "lasso"). Calf-roping header and heeler in action

Heifer - A young female bovine which hasn't had a calf.

Hemp necktie - A hangman's noose, so called because rope was made of Manila hemp.

Hen fruit - Eggs.

Hen Skins - A feather bed or down-filled quilt, hence a cowboy's sugan.

Hick - An uneducated rustic

High Plains - The western portion of the Great Plains region, east of the Rocky Mountains. The High Plains rise from about 2,500 feet above sea level to more than 6,000 feet.

High-stepper - A horse that moves with a high step or proud gait.

High Roller - A horse that leaps high in the air when bucking.

High Tail - To leave quickly, like a deer that lifts its tail high when running away. "He had to high tail it out of town before the Marshal found him." A deer with its tail lifted high

Hindfoot - A rear foot of a four-legged critter.

Hindquarters - The back end of a horse; the hips and rear legs.

Hinny - The offspring of a jenny (female donkey) and a stallion (male horse). Like a mule, a hinny cannot reproduce.

Hired Gun - 1. A professional killer who uses a gun. 2. A professional troubleshooter, called upon to deal with thorny problems -- not necessarily by violent means.

Hitchrack - See Hitching Rail.

Hitched - 1. Tied to a stationary object, especially tying by means of a knot that can be easily undone by pulling the end of the rope opposite the end tied to the restrained object (usually a horse).
2. Connected to a vehicle.
3. Married.

Hitching Post - An upright post with a ring to which a horse can be tied to keep it from straying.

Hitching Rail - A horizontal rail supported by upright posts to which a horse can be tied to keep it from straying

Hobble - A pair of connected loops placed on a horse's feet to restrict movement. Cowboy attaching hobbles to his horse's feet

Hobble Ring - A ring attached to or near the flank cinch of a double rigged saddle which is used for carrying hobbles, piggin strings, etc., or attaching the lead rope of a pack animal. A Hobble ring may be plain metal or covered with rawhide.

Hobble Strap - See Stirrup Strap. Also a strap on full double rig roping saddles running between the fronk and flank D rings.

Hobbled Stirrups - Stirrups that have been connected under the horse's belly to keep the stirrups down during rough rides. See "Oregon Short Line."

HOBO - -- An employment agency acronym meaning, "Has Occupation But Out-of-work." A displaced worker who travels around in search of employment in his chosen trade. Frequently confused with a "bum" or "tramp." Two hobos walking along railroad tracks, after being put off a train

Hock - The joint in the hind leg of hoofed mammals equivalent to the human ankle. The hind leg counterpart to the knee of the foreleg. Hock and knee

Hog leg - A large pistol.

Hog-tie - To tie an animal's legs together with a piggin' string. Cowboy finished hogtying a calf

Hombre - (Pronounced "AHM-bray" by most Anglo cowboys, or "OHM-bray" by Spanish-speakers) Spanish word meaning man or male -- especially a strong man.

Home Spread - The headquarters of a ranch.

Homesteader - Someone who settles on government land with the intent to acquire title to it A homestead

Honcho - Often mistaken as a Spanish cowboy term, this word actually originated during World War II and is derived from a Japanese title for a military squad leader. In current usage, it means a foreman or other person who exercises control over workers.

Honda - A small loop in a lasso through which the rope runs to form a larger loop. Honda in a lasso

Hooch - To "do the Hooch" was to move around in a frenzied manner -- derived from the "Hoochie Coochie," a wildly gyrating sort of belly dance popular in the late nineteenth century.

Hood - According to Winfred Blevins' Dictionary of the American West, the "Hood" was the wrangler who watched over the horse herd at night and drove the "Hoodlum Wagon" between camps.

Hoodlum Wagon - A wagon which accompanied a chuck wagon on cattle drives and transported additional food, bedrolls, branding irons, and other supplies. According to Dictionary of the American West by Winfred Blevins, the Hoodlum Wagon was usually driven by the "Hood" -- the wrangler who watched over the horse herd at night. Hoodlum Wagon

Hooey - A half-hitch. In calf roping cowboys must put the animal down and tie any three feet by taking two wraps -- one if in a hurry -- around the feet and tying off with a "hooey" half hitch. Calf roper tying a hooey

Hoolihanning - To leap on a steer in such a way that the animal's head and horns are driven into the ground. The animal turns over and must be let up and thrown by hand for eligible time. (See also Q & A 314.)

Hoosegow - Jail. Derived from the Spanish word, "juzgado" (huz-GA-dough), a court of law. Hays County Jail, San Marcos, Texas

Horn - 1. A pointed outgrowth from the head of an animal, such as a cow.
2. To poke or stab at someone or something with a horn or other pointed object.
3. To intrude into a situation; to poke one's nose into something.
4. A prominent projection on top of the pommel of a saddle. (See Saddle Horn.)

Horn-Mad - Belligerent, angry; mad enough to butt or gore with the horns, like an infuriated cow.

Hornswoggle - Although commonly defined as to bamboozle, cheat, or hoax, better definitions include: to outmaneuver, thwart, out-fox, baffle, flummox, dumbfound, foil, hinder, or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires of someone). Derived from a cow wildly swinging its horns from side to side until it shakes itself free of a lasso. (Click on the photo at right for more background on this interesting word.) A roper gets hornswoggled

Horse Around - To indulge in Horseplay.

Horse Feathers - 1. Something ridiculously impossible. (Because horses, of course, have hair, not feathers. On the other hand, see the definition number 2:) 2. The long hair that grows on the feet of some horse breeds. Horse Feathers

Horse Opera - See "Oater." The term "Horse Opera" first came into use in 1927.

Horseplay - Rough, rowdy, or frolicking activity, similar to the cavorting of horses when they "play."

Horse Sense - Sound, practical judgment. "The thing a horse has that keeps him from betting on people." -- W. C. Fields

Hoss - Western dialect for "horse."

Hossy-stink - A wrangler; a ranch hand who trains horses. Derived from the distinctive "aroma" that attaches to people who work closely with horses.

Hostler - A person who takes care of horses at an inn or livery stable. Derived from the old English word, "Hostry" -- a stable for horses.

Hot rocks - Biscuits.

Hot Roll - Cowboy slang for a bedroll; a Sugan

Hotshot - A harmless electric device pressed against the hide of an animal to prod it into moving. Although Hot-Shot® is a registered trademark of Miller Manufacturing Company, the term "hotshot" is commonly used as a generic description for any electric cattle prod. A Hotshot cattle prod

Howdy - Hello; How are you? A Scots-Irish contraction of "How do ye do?" commonly used in the Old West.

Hueco - (Pronounced "WAY-ko") A hollow or depression in a rock formation useful in catching run-off water or as hand- and foot-holds in rock climbing. The city of Waco, Texas, is named after the area's first residents, the Hueco Indians. Hueco is a Spanish word meaning empty or hollow.

Hull - A saddle. "I threw my hull on a hammerhead bronc."

Hurricane deck - A saddle, especially one on a bucking horse. Named after the deck at the top of a passenger ship, where the vessel's movement was most noticeable.

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