- January 25, 2016
- Jolyn Young
Every subculture has its own lexicon. In the buckaroo world, we often use phrases that originated with livestock and just apply them directly to human usage in a kind of reverse anthropomorphism. Here are several common cowboy phrases that have wandered away from the barn and gotten tangled up in everyday vernacular.
- Ganted up: When an animal is said to be “ganted up,” their bellies are sucked up more than is normal and their flanks are drawn in. This can be due to lack of feed or water, or because of an illness. When a buckaroo says he is ganted up, it’s usually right before dinnertime when he’s been out on a big circle all day.
- Stone bruised: In a horse, this literally means “bruised by a stone,” as in what happens to a horse’s hoof when it steps on a rock. Bow-legged cowboys use this phrase to mean they’ve walked too many concrete miles in their Paul Bonds while at an indoor ranch rodeo or trade show.
- Cut his cinch: This refers to an action that completely wrecks another guy’s life or plans. If you cut a person’s cinch (not all the way through, just partway) before he gets on his horse, he wouldn’t initially realize it. But, his cinch would break at some point and he would be in a major wreck that was in no way his fault. When used figuratively, to “cut his cinch” means to steal another guy’s girlfriend; to get someone fired from their job; or to cheat someone in a big way in a business deal.
- Sulled up: When this phrase is applied to livestock, it means an animal that refuses to move. A member of the bovine species can be sulled up when the weather’s hot and it’s the end of the day’s drive; she simply refuses to take another step. A colt can be sulled up when the cinch comes tight at the first saddling; the binding sensation is unfamiliar to him, so he freezes and won’t move. To apply this phrase to the human population, think of a toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed. She can become sulled up in a corner, refusing to move/reason/be reasoned with.
- Bowed up: When a stud horse is all “bowed up,” he has his neck arched and is looking for a fight. He has plenty of testosterone, and is showing his dominance to a threat, real or perceived, to either himself or a mare he thinks is his. When a cowboy is all bowed up, it could be for a similar reason or a totally different reason, like someone nailed his latigo to the floor and he didn’t find the humor in the prank.
So, there ya have it: the definitions for a few phrases commonly used in the cowboy world that are unknown to most of America.
About Jolyn Young
Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....