Cowboy Bob's Dictionary

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Click on thumbnail images for larger views and additional descriptions.

Macardy - See Mecate.

Madrina - 1. In horses or cattle, a lead or bell mare, which the herd willingly follows. In Spanish, "godmother," or "bridesmaid." See also Bell Cow and Bell Mare.
2. A strap used to yoke two horses together.

Mail Order Bride - A woman who found a husband through an exchange of letters. Because of the scarcity of suitable women in the Old West, many bachelors looked for a spouse by such means as writing letters to churches, publishing personal advertisements in magazines and newspapers, or searching catalogs published by matrimonial bureaus. Because a Mail Order Bride got her husband largely on the basis of how photogenic she was, the families that resulted tended to be rather good-looking.

Main Screw - Ranch foreman, superior to a "Top-screw."

Malleus - See "Glanders."

Malpais - (Pronounced "mahl-pie-ees") A Spanish word meaning "badlands."

Mane - Long hair growing along the crest of a horse's neck.

Mane Holt - A common Western mispronunciation of "Mane Hold" -- holding on to a horse's mane in order to avoid falling off.

Mangana - An underhand toss of a lasso that catches the feet of a running bovine. Also a synonym for "Lasso."

Manta - (Pronounced "MAHN-tah.") Horse blanket material, used by Apaches to make clothing; unbleached muslin.

Marfa Line - See "Dry Line."

Marble Orchard - A cemetery, so called because of the orchard-like rows of marble headstones.

Marker - The cowhand who applies the branding iron and/or ear marks to an animal. Marker applying a branding iron to a calf

Mark Out - Having the rider's spurs touching above the point of the shoulder of a bronco. A rodeo cowboy is required to spur the horse in the shoulder on the first jump out of the chute. Failure to do so will result in no score. Marking out a bronco

Marmot - A stocky, coarse-furred burrowing rodent with short legs and ears and a short bushy tail, found throughout the northern hemisphere. The Marmot hibernates in winter. Marmot

Marshal - A law enforcement officer serving the United States government, a city, town, or other locality except for a county or parish.

Maverick Factory - A herd of cattle that increases faster than any normal rate of reproduction -- usually with a high percentage of suspicious-looking brands.

McCarty - See Mecate.

McClellan saddle - A military saddle designed in the 1850s by George B. McClellan and patterned after saddles used by the Hungarian cavalry. Cavalry saddle by Frederic Remington

Mecate - (Pronounced "mek-cah-tay") In Spanish, the word "mecate" means "rope" or "cord." A long rope that serves as reins, lead rope, quirt, and more. For more detail, see Q&A #284 -- "What's a mecate?" Mecate

Medicated Paper - See Gayetty's Medicated Paper.

Medicine Hat - A pinto with coloring covering the pole and both ears. It is also usually marked with a "shield" or spot of color over the chest. Medicine Hat horses

Megabytes - How a really hungry cowhand eats.

Megahertz - A really big pain.

Mesa - A flat topped mountain with steep sides. Mesa

Mess kit - A compact set of portable eating utensils.

Mess Wagon - A Chuck Wagon.

Mexican Loop Holster - A holster with an attached skirt, the skirt having one or more loops through which the holster is inserted, thus holding the holster to the skirting and creating a wide upper loop through which a cartridge belt can run. Mexican Loop Holster

Mexican standoff - A stalemate or impasse; a situation in which no one can win and from which no one is likely to emerge unscathed.

Mexican Strawberries - See Arizona Strawberries.

Middling - Of average or mediocre quality; a grade of flour. "I'm feelin' fair to middlin' today" = I'm so-so.

Milk Run - A trip or activity which can accomplished at a leisurely pace and with little effort. A routine and uneventful trip, especially on a dangerous mission. A milk run was originally a railroad train that progressed slowly, stopping at every farm along the way to pick up cans of milk for delivery to the local creamery. "Sure, the ride to Deadwood has its share of bandits, but to me it's just another milk run." Milk Run train

Milk vein - A vein running across a mare's belly to the udder which becomes enlarged when she is producing milk. Milk vein

Milking a dry cow - Wasting time on a futile activity.

Mirage - A distortion of the air which produces an optical illusion, such as a lake appearing in what is actually a desert area.

Mochila - (Moe-keel-ah) A leather saddlebag with four locked pouches -- called "cantinas" -- used for carrying mail by the Pony Express. The mochila fit over the saddle and the rider's legs went between the pockets, so the mochila could only be removed if the rider dismounted. "Mochila" is a Spanish word for a knapsack or soldier's pack. Pony Express rider with mochila

Molly - A female mule.

Monogastric - An animal having a simple single-chambered stomach, such as a horse, dog, or pig.

Mordant - 1. A substance such as alum which is used to treat leather or other materials before dyeing. 2. Harshly ironic or sinister; derived from a Latin word meaning "to bite."

Moro - A blue roan, having a black base coat intermingled with white hairs and black mane, tail, head and legs. (From the Spanish word for "Moor," a dark-skinned race from North Africa.)

Morral - A feed bag for a horse that fits over its nose. Also called a nose bag. Horse eating from a morral

Mosey - To wander or depart. The word's origin is uncertain - it may be derived from the way Moses wandered in the wilderness, or as an Anglo corruption of "vamanos," meaning "Let's go."

Moss-back - Someone who is old-fashioned, behind the times, or slow to learn new methods. The imagery is of an individual who is so slow that moss would have time to grow on his or her back.

Mossy-horn - An old, wily bovine, especially a feral bull.

Mount - Verb: to get onto something above the ground; to climb on a horse, bicycle, etc., in order to ride.
Noun: 1. a saddle horse or other means of conveyance.
2. An elevated point of land; a designation for a mountain.

Mountain Man - A frontier explorer,trapper or trader, especially in the mountain ranges of western North America. A mountain man would frequently live in the wilderness for months - or even years - at a time.

Muck - Manure. To "muck out a stall" is to remove any manure from the stall. "Mucking a garden" means to fertilize it with manure.

Mud Fever - See Scratches.

Mule - Offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, characteristically having large ears. Mule

Mule-ears - Boots with long bootstraps shaped like mule ears.

Mule Skinner - A teamster who drives mules, also called a Muleteer. Mule Skinner with his team

Muleteer - A teamster who drives mules, also called a "Mule Skinner."

Muley, or Muley Cow - A naturally polled (one that has no horns) cow. Possibly derived from the Gaelic word "maol," meaning bald or hornless, or the fact that -- unlike the horse -- a mule has a nobby lump on the top of its head similar to the protuberance on the top of a hornless cow. Muley cows

Mustang - A wild horse of the North American plains, descended from feral Spanish horses. "Mustang" may come from a Spanish word -- possibly "mestengo" or "mesteño," -- meaning a "stray, feral, or ownerless" horse. It also seems possible that the word may be derived from the ancient land known as Mustang, in northeast Nepal -- noted as the home of small, tough, mustang-like ponies. (For a little more detail on this topic, see Q&A #252,)

Mutton Busting - A rodeo event for young cowpokes similar to bull or bronc riding, but the rider is on a sheep. Mutton Busting

Mutton-Puncher - A derogatory name used by cattlemen to describe a sheepherder. Mutton-Puncher

Muzzle - See "Grazing Muzzle."

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