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Dear Bob, my daughter and son love to listen to Riders in the Sky and also love to read "Hank the Cowdog" stories. We've come across a term that I thought might mean a lariat, but after searching your dictionary, may mean a steer. It's spelled "hoolihan" or "hulahan" (I think). I see in your dictionary, you have "hoolihanning" and from that, I think it may mean a steer or to throw a steer.

Any help from you would be greatly appreciated.

B. R.


Your guesses are close, but not quite on target.

To "Hoolihan" doesn't mean a lariat, but it does relate to something that may happen while trying to catch a critter.

It doesn't mean a steer, but does describe something that happens to a steer.

It doesn't mean "to throw a steer," but it does describe a faulty method of trying to throw a steer.

To Hoolihan a steer is to do the thing that is described in my dictionary as "Hoolihanning." When a cowboy "Hoolihans" a steer, he has jumped from his horse onto the steer "in such a way that the animal's head and horns are driven into the ground." That is considered an illegal fall. The animal must be let up and thrown by hand -- by grabbing the steer's horns and twisting the head until the steer falls onto its side -- for the cowboy to receive an eligible time.

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