Life on the X-Bar Ranch...

I am an ordinary woman, with an amazing family, serving an awesome God.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cowboy Lingo

Sometimes, in ranch world, we use strange terms. I know this, because I have had to ask many times what My Cowboy was meaning, and I am fairly well-read. Or at least, I thought I was. I have read westerns and pioneer books, but that didn't do me much good when it came to being a cowboy's wife. One thing to remember, is that most western movies are styled after the famous Texas style, and that is not the only kind of cowboy. Believe me. Its all about where you live. Or in some cases, where you wished you lived! There are strange mixes and crossovers - cowboys taking what they think is the best of 2 or 3 styles and mixing them up. There are cowboys who wish they could live in Texas, but are stuck in Wyoming or Utah. But I will give you a short non-conclusive list of some of the most common terms and styles of cowboys that I know of.
Note: I am not an authority, simply a ranch wife who has picked up a few things over the last 4 years, and certainly I have a few cowboy friends who read this who will probably chuckle when they read the mistakes I have made. Don't worry - I shall ask someone before I put this chapter in a book! :)

Humor first~ I read this online, and it made my day! Some people obviously think they know more than what they really do! :) "Hats: Although a necessity at one time, is now considered more of an accessory to complete the western look." OK, this guy (or gal) has never been a cowboy. Trust me. And 'used to be a necessity'? Since when has the sun gotten less hot? or the wind less cold? Global warming, you say? that should make the sun hotter, right? he-he.

OK, back to the matter at hand... In Texas you see the typical movie gear - hats that are referred to by My Cowboy as 'taco hats'. They use 30-40ft ropes and they tie hard and fast, meaning they tie one end of their rope onto the saddle horn. They often have tapaderos on their stirrups, ya know, those things that protect from the cactus?
Our good friend, Curt, from Texas. He's a true cowboy. And has a lovely family. Note the hat.
In southern California, you have Vaqueros, (I think) and they more closely resemble the Spanish influence. Don't ask me about their style. I forget.
My Brother-in-law, Marcel. he is kind of a mix! But the hat is similar to what My Cowboy wears.

Then you have the buckaroo, which is the most like My Cowboy. Flat hats, they dally their rope, and they (usually) don't have tapaderos. They use long 60 ft ropes, and they work Black Angus cattle, not the longhorns that run in Texas and on the movies. They also wear felt hats more than straw, because they deal with alot more blizzards than what Texans do. (DO Texans deal with blizzards?) Anyways, you get the idea. I wish I had a photo of each style. When you see them side by side, it is kinda interesting. But cowboys are a bit like Mennonites - when they aren't side by side, they all look the same! :)
Now for some common misunderstandings...
Push cattle
What it means: To herd, or to in some manner cause the cow to walk in front of you to a desired location.
What it doesn't mean: To actually lay hands on the beast, and push, like you do to a car that doesn't start.

Have a wreck
What it means: That is when your horse decides to buck, spook, or just act generally dumb, causing it and/or the cowboy to go flying, or be drug, or any number of unpleasant things. Ask Cliff about wrecks.
What it doesn't mean: To have a wreck with your truck. Although that has been known to happen, as well.
What it means: In Texas language, "round-up". To circle the cattle with your hoses, and herd them to a holding pen.

What it means: A small pasture that is used to keep cattle close together, so they can be found the next day.

On the Prod
What it means: Mad. Aggressive. Ready to do battle with whoever is in the way. Irritated. (This term is also used for humans.)

Bronc-ey. This one should be self explanatory. All I have to say, is: "don't ride em."

Woofy. When a member of the bovine species is kinda ticked off, kinda crazy, and/or ready to charge. Keep your distance.

Disclaimer: these meanings can be different depending on the circumstance. This is a general understanding. And there are many more, but I have had a sudden brain fog, and totally forgot the others, so that's it for today. If any of you cowboys/girls want to throw one in I forgot, please do!

Have a cheery day, and Ride The Brand. (Do whatever it takes to be loyal and true to the outfit you are working for.)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi Kay, I have some questions about ranch life and ranch lingo and wondered if we could correspond. I'll try to "Subscribe by email." If that fails, could you leave me a message at my blog site? Blessings on your day.


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