Cowboy Bob's Dictionary

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Pace - A lateral gait, slightly faster than a trot, with the foreleg and hind leg on each side moving together.

Pacer - A horse (usually a harness racer) that naturally paces or has been trained to pace rather than trot. Pacers' forelegs move in unison with the hind leg on the same side.

Pack Saddle - A saddle designed to support loads on the backs of pack animals. Cowhand rigging a pack saddle

Paddock - A small, confined area for holding horses.

Paint - A specific breed of pinto horse, generally one which has been registered with the American Paint Horse Association. Although often used interchangably, not all pintos are Paints, but all Paints are pintos.

Palaver - Casual conversation. (Anglo corruption of the Spanish word "palabra," meaning, "word.")

Palomino - Having a golden coat with a white or cream colored mane and tail. Palomino

Palouse - Original name of the Appaloosa horse.

Pancake - A derogatory term for an English saddle, which is rather small and flat in comparison to a Western saddle.

Pannier - (Pronounced "pan-yer".) A box or basket-like container mounted on the side of a pack saddle. Panniers are usually carried in pairs -- one on each side -- for better balance. Derived from the Old French word "panier," meaning "bread basket." Pannier

Papago - 1. A dry separator -- or "washer" -- for gold-bearing ore. It uses a canvas bellows to blow away the loose dirt, leaving the heavier gold.
2. Old name of a native American tribe of Arizona and northern Mexico; now referred to as "O'odham" ("the People").
Prospector with Papago

Pard - A contracted version of "Pardner."

Pardner - A slurred pronunciation of "partner"; a working companion or associate.

Park Country - A forest area where small stands of trees without underbrush alternate with large treeless areas.

Part the herd - To separate animals from a herd for specific purposes such as sale, breeding, weaning or keeping calves with their mothers.

Pass-Through - A narrow opening in a fence which allows a human to "pass through" while preventing passage by livestock Cowboy Bob using a Pass-Through

Pastern - The part of the foot of the horse between the fetlock and the hoof. Pastern and Fetlock

Pastern Disease - See Scratches.

Pawnee Wash - A medicine for inflamed eyes made from the roots of wild roses.

Pawnee Salve - An ointment for burns made from the pulverized root of the cattail plant.

PBBA - Acronym for The Professional Bucking Bull Association (

Peacemaker - The Colt Single Action Army, a .45 caliber, single-action, breech-loading, six-shot revolver; the standard U.S. military service sidearm from 1873 to 1892. Sometimes known as "The Equalizer," it was a popular revolver among civilians in the frontier West.

Peaked - (Pronounced "PEAK-ed.") Somewhat ill; emaciated or sickly in appearance.

Peal Loop - A lasso toss that catches each of a cow's hind legs in a different loop of a figure 8.

Peanut Roaster - Cowboy slang for a steam locomotive.

Peck - A dry measure equal to two gallons; a quarter of a bushel.

Peewee Boot - A riding boot with a short top.

Pemican - Lean dried meat pounded fine and mixed with melted fat; used especially by North American Indians

Perambulate - To wander or walk around with no particular destination. From a Latin phrase meaning, "to walk around."

Performance Class - A class in which either the horse or the exhibitor is judged upon their actions. Performance Class

Persnickety - Persnickety - Nit picky, fussy, exacting, finicky, fastidious.

Phenylbutazone - A non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to control pain and swelling in horses. Also called "Bute."

Picayune - (Pronounced "Pick-ee-yoon") 1. Something small or frivolous.
2. A small coin worth six and a quarter cents (1/16th of a dollar).

Picket line - A rope suspended off the ground which is used for tying horses. Picket line at a horse camp

Picket pin - 1. A long metal or wooden stake, often with a swiveling ring on the top, used for tethering a horse in an open area.
2. A type of prairie dog, so-called because of its resemblance to an upright stake when standing next to its hole.

Picketwire - A common cowboy mispronunciation of southeastern Colorado's Purgatoire River. Around 1594, Spanish Conquistador Juan Hermana's group of gold-hunting cutthroats was ambushed and wiped out by natives near the Purgatoire. Because they died without the benefit of last rites, they were said to be in Purgatory and the river was named "El río de las ánimas perdidas en Purgatorio," or "The River of the Lost Souls in Purgatory." When the French took control of the area, they changed that to "Purgatoire" and the Anglos later corrupted it to "Picketwire." Purgatoire River

Pick-up man - A mounted cowboy in the rodeo arena who "picks up" the riders after they have completed their contest rides. Pick-up men also release the flank strap and herd the broncs or other stock out of the arena, as necessary. Rodeo pickup man helping bronc rider off his horse

Piebald - A black and white pinto. Also often used to describe a skewbald horse. A piebald horse

Pied - A piebald horse.

Piggin' string - A short rope with a loop, used to hog-tie (thus the name piggin' or pigging) the legs of roped livestock. Cowboy with a piggin' string in his teeth

Pilgrim - Someone uninitiated to life in the West; usually a recent emigrant from an eastern state or a novice cowhand.

Pine - 1. To long for something, bemoan. 2. A type of coniferous tree.

Pinfiring - The use of a heated needle - or pin - to alleviate leg pain by deadening nerves in the affected area. Similar to freezefiring, which uses a supercooled needle. The proceedure leaves a small, usually dark, dot on the leg. Pinfiring is not as common as it once was.

Pinole - A type of Cold Flour, consisting of corn meal mixed with sugar, popular in the Southwest.

Piñon - (Pronounced "PIN-yohn") A pine tree found in the higher elevations of the American Southwest. The seeds of the piñon -- commonly called "pine nuts" -- are high in both protein and calories, making them an excellent food for those engaged in rugged activity.

Pinto - Any horse with large, irregular patches of white and another color. Often used synonymously with "Paint," but not all pintos are of the Paint breed. Pinto

Pitcher Pump - A hand operated water pump with an open spout rather than a closed nozzle or faucet. The large opening makes it easier to prime the pump when necessary. Pitcher Pump

Plow Reining - Two-handed direct reining, turning the horse's head by pulling it with the rein on the side of the turn. Plow Reining

Plug - A run-of-the-mill work horse.

Plumb - Extremely, completely, exactly, entirely, absolutely, totally, Utterly. Often mis-spelled "plum." "That pony ran after the calf for so long, he got plumb exhausted." Derived from the use of a plumb (lead) weight to position something with precision.

Plunder - An individual's personal belongings; baggage.

PMU - Abbreviation for Pregnant Mare Urine; refers to horses used in the production of the urine from which estrogen replacement therapy drugs are made. It may also refer to the foals produced by such mares.

Poach - To steal or hunt animals illegally; to rustle.

Pogonip - A dense winter fog containing ice particles. It frequently leaves a coating of ice on the ground, making travel by foot or by horse very hazardous.

Point Rider (or pointer) - Also known as the lead or van. A cowhand who rides at the front of the herd, guiding the cattle. Part of the pointer's job may involve keeping the lead steer or bell cow going in the correct direction. (For more information on trail drive jobs, see Q & A page 216 - What were the various positions on a cattle drive?)

Points - The mane, tail, and lower legs; sometimes also includes the muzzle.

Poke - a pouch or bag used by a cowboy to carry his "possibles." Derived from the French word poche, meaning a pocket or bag.

Pokey - 1. A slang term for jail. In New England during the early 1800s the word "poke" was used for a device to keep unruly beasts from jumping fences. Thus a jail became known as a pokey which kept unruly law-breakers confined.
2. A time-waster, slow, a laggard; as in a pokey little pony. (Also spelled poky.)

Pole Bending - A competition in which a mounted rider runs a weaving path around six poles. Also called Pole Weaving. Pole Bending

Polecat - A striped skunk. Sometimes applied to a person who is thought to be despicable or contemptible. A skunk is also sometimes called a "wood pussy." Polecat

Poley - aka Knee Pad - the leather-covered blade that sits in front of the rider's thigh on an Australian Stock Saddle. Poley

Poll - The area at the top of a horse's neck between and directly behind the ears.

Pommel - The portion of a saddle that fits over the withers. The saddle horn of a Western saddle is mounted on top of the pommel. Derived from the Latin word pomum, meaning apple or swelling. Pommel

Pony - Any of various breeds of small horses, usually less than 15 hands (five feet) high at the withers. Also used of western cow horses as well as an informal term for a polo or race horse. A pony tries to keep up with a much larger horse

Poorly - Sick; not well. "Bill's feelin' poorly; he's got a cold."

Pork-and-beaner - A cowboy, so-called from this staple item in his diet. Although beans are high in protein, they lack the calories and salt needed by a man doing hard work in hot country. A chunk of salt pork cooked with the beans helped to fill that dietary need. That's how pork and beans got started!

Port - The raised section in the center of the mouthpiece on some curb bits. The amount it is raised affects the severity of the bit (low ported bits being milder).

Portmanteau - A leather bag for carrying one's belongings, especially on horseback. Sometimes corrupted as "Portmantle."

Posse - A temporary law-enforcement unit, usually recruited by a sheriff from the general population for a specific purpose.

Possibles - Small personal items that might "possibly" be useful during the day, usually carried in a pouch or bag called a "possibles bag" or "Poke."

Possum disease - (See EPM.)

Pot Liquor - Also called Pot Likker or Collard Liquor; the liquid remaining after boiling collard, kale, turnip or other greens. The nutrient-rich liquid is consumed as a cold beverage, hot soup, or as a broth base for beans or meat scraps.

Prairie Coal - Dried cow or buffalo manure used for fuel.

Prairie-dog Court - A cowboy kangaroo court, at which some cowhand is "arrested," tried on some ridiculous charge, and sentenced to a harmless -- usually humorous -- penalty, such as buying a round of drinks the next time the crew is in town.

Prairie Pancakes - Buffalo or Cow Chips.

Prairie Schooner - A large wagon with broad wheels and an arched canvas top commonly used by pioneers to cross the North American prairies. So called because the white canvas tops of the covered wagons looked somewhat like the sails of ships at a distance.

Prairie Strawberries - Red Mexican beans.

PRCA - Acronym for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (

Prickly Pear Cactus - Any of about a dozen species of cacti with flat, plate-like fleshy pads, native to North American desert regions. They typically grow in dense, tangled clusters. Prickly Pear

Pritchel - A tool used by blacksmiths for punching or enlarging the nail holes in a horseshoe. The word is derived from "pritch," meaning a sharp-pointed instrument. (See also "Clinch Cutter" and "Pritchel Hole.")

Pritchel Hole - A round hole in an anvil, used for giving clearance when punching holes or as a holder for punches or other tools. Pritchel Hole

Prophet's Thumbprint - A small indentation or dimple in a muscle, usually located on the horse's neck or shoulder. The name is derived from a legend that such a horse is descended from one of five brood mares that the Prophet Mohammed particularly treasured. The mark is also sometimes called a "Devil's Thumbprint." Prophet's Thumbprint

Proud flesh - A protrusion of tissue that remains after a wound has otherwise healed.

Pulling Leather - Grabing the saddle or saddle horn during a rough ride; in rodeo it is used to describe a roughstock rider who touches the animal with his free hand, automatically disqualifying the rider.

Pulling strap - 1. Also called a breast collar; a harness strap that puts pressure across the horse's chest rather than on a hame and neck collar.
2. A heavy beast strap that attaches to the saddle to keep it from slipping backward when pulling cattle to a branding fire or drawing other heavy loads. Essentially, it is a breast strap that runs more over the shoulder, rather than the chest, and often includes a neck strap to hold it higher.
Pulling Strap

Pung - A work vehicle on runners with space for transporting materials on the bed behind the seat. Originally it was just a simple box on runners. Pung

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