Nevada: A Guide to the Silver State

By Nevada Writers' Program | Go to book overview
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Stock Jargon

THE livestock industry, one of the most important of the State, has its own jargon, bewildering at first to the uninitiated.

The man who rides the range, watching the huge herds of cattle, is known variously in this State as cowboy or buckaroo; the term vaquero, with its many spellings--vacqueros, yaucero (from yaucca, Sp.)--is rarely used in Nevada. Other names used in referring to these cattle artisans are waddie,cow puncher, hand, and cow poke. The man who has achieved great skill in this field is known as a top hand and commands a higher wage. On the other hand a flat-heeled peeler or pumpkin roller is an amateur cowboy, or a farmer who has turned cowboy. The buckaroo who holds a large herd of cattle from straying at night, the night herd, is known as a night hawk. The buckaroo who herds the saddle horses is the rango, and the one who takes the night shift with horses is the night rango, the night hawk or owl.

A buckaroo's paraphernalia includes the following: the saddle, which the cow-country calls cactus, hull, chair, centerfire, kak, pack, or rigging; the horn of the saddle, called the biscuit, grandma, old Susie, the handle, or the pig, all indicative of the contempt of true cowhands for the flatheeled peeler who must pull leather (grasp the saddle horn) in order to remain with his mount; the cinch or girth, which is the binder holding the saddle in place. Thus a cinch-binder is a horse that when cinched too tightly refuses to move or falls over backwards.

The bridle, consisting of headstall, bit, and reins, has several appendages--the bozal or braided rope band, the romal, a heavy whip attached to the end of the reins, the feador, the knotted rope holding the reins, and the martingale or the adjustable neck-band to hold the horse's head down. A hackamore, a rawhide nose-band used in place of a bit, is a type of halter consisting of a headstall, a feador, and rope band, and is sometimes known as a McCarty.

A bear trap is what the old-fashioned ring or spade bit is called by cowboys using lighter, more humane bits. The tapederos is a leather covering of various shapes and sizes that fits over the stirrup to protect


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Nevada: A Guide to the Silver State


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