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Glossaries have been created to provide the definition for words
specific to each theme area. It is suggested that students review
the glossaries before they examine a specific theme area. For example,
the Ranching Glossary contains many terms such as "greenhorn,"
"heifer," or "wrangler," that only a rancher
or cowboy might know.
Bedroll: A cowboy's sleeping blankets rolled up for
easy carrying on his horse.
Big Four: The first Calgary Stampede was held in September
of 1912. A man named Guy Weadick wanted to celebrate Alberta's ranching
lifestyle and traditions, but needed money for the event. Four ranchers
guaranteed him $25,000 each (a great deal of money of money at the
time) for what was supposed to be a one time event. These four ranchers,
George Lane, Alfred Earnest Cross, Pat Burns and Archie McLean
are now known as the "Big Four."
Bit: The metal mouthpiece on a bridle that is connected
to reins. Together they are used to steer the horse.
Bovine: An animal of the genus Bos, such as an ox, cow,
Branding: The practice of searing a cow's flesh with a red-hot
iron to produce a scar that will be easily recognizable to allow
cowboys to identify ownership. Now branding is often done with chemicals,
tattooing, freezing, or ear-tagging. The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks
were the first to use branding.
Branding Iron: An iron tool used to brand a cow for
identification of ownership.
Broken Horse: A horse that will allow you to ride it.
Bronc: Bucking horses that are ridden wearing a saddle.
Bronc busting (or breaking): training an animal to accept
Bronco: An animal that has not been broken to accept being
ridden. In Spanish it means "rough" or "harsh."
Bull: A male bovine used to father cattle in a herd
Calf: The young animal from domestic cattle. A baby
Cattle: Any domesticated animal of the genus Bos,
including cows, steers, and bulls, often raised for their meat and
Cattle Rustling (Rustler): A cattle thief. A camp cook might
also be called a rustler, as they has to "rustle" up some
grub (food) for the cowboys.
Cavvy: A ranch's saddle horses used on a roundup. The
cavvy of horses were gathered in a rope corral, which was usually
temporary, allowing the cowboys to change horses when needed.
Chaps: Pronounced "shaps," these are leggings
worn by cowboys as protection against the weather and brush, and
are usually made of leather.
Chuck: Cowboy slang for a meal. Similar to chow, eats,
Chuck Wagon: A wagon containing food and cooking utensils,
used to provide meals for cowboys on a roundup.
Chuck Wagon Cook: Was often nicknamed "cookie." Chuck
wagon cooks often had many jobs, including barber, banker, dentist,
and even doctor. On a cattle drive or roundup, the cook was paid
more than the cowboys as the success of the roundup or drive depended
him supporting the others.
Cinch: a leather band that holds a saddle on a horse's back
by being tightened around its body.
Cow: A female bovine, which may also be used as a generic
reference to cattle.
Cowboy: A ranch hand that was skilled in different ranch
duties such as bronc busting, roundup of cattle, roping, and riding.
The myth of the cowboy, as much as the historical reality, has come
to be a symbol of Alberta's western heritage.
Cowboy Hat: A hat with a large brim that acts to keep
rain off and to shade the cowboy in hot weather.
Cowhand: A hired hand that tends to cattle and performs
other duties on horseback.
Diversify: To extend business activities into other areas.
Dogie: A motherless or stray calf.
Drive: Moving a herd of cattle by surrounding them
with cowboys and guiding the cattle in the right direction.
Drought: A long period of unusually low rainfall that adversely
affects growing and living conditions.
Emancipation Proclamation: Document issued by United States
President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 as the nation entered
into its third year of civil war. The proclamation declared that
all slaves were free, but it had no immediate impact. It was meant
more as a symbolic gesture against the southern United States.
Financing: To provide or raise the funds or capital for
a large investment.
Gopher: A short-tailed, burrowing rodent that lives underground
Greenhorn: Someone who was inexperienced in the ways of
the West. It originally referred to a young animal whose horns had
not yet matured.
Heifer: A young cow that has not yet had a calf.
Irrigation: To supply dry land with water by means of artificial
ditches or pipes
Kainai: The Kainai/Blood are one member tribe of the Blackfoot
Confederacy, an alliance that also includes the Siksika (Blackfoot),
the Piikani (Peigan), and the Blackfeet.
Lariat: (el lazo) A long rope (which was also
called a "lasso") used by cowboys to catch stray animals.
The Spanish word for it was a "lazo."
Livestock: Domestic animals, such as cattle or horses, which
are raised on a farm.
Maverick: There are two main definitions.
1. Originally, it referred to cattle that have not been branded
yet, usually meaning a calf that has become separated from its
mother. They were usually considered the property of the first
person to brand them.
2. Today, it refers to a person who is independent in thought
and deed, or who refuses to "go along with the group"
Mixed Farming: A farm that grows crops and feed and raises
livestock rather than specializing in one agricultural sector, such
as only raising cattle. This practice allowed farms to be more self-sufficient.
Open Range: An extensive area of open land for cattle to
graze on. Refers to land before there were fences surrounding specific
Percheron: A breed of heavy draft horse known for
its steady temperament, intelligence, and willingness to work.
Ranch: Comes from the Spanish word "rancho" which
means a small farm, hut, or group of people who eat together. A
ranch is an extensive farm where large herds of cattle or horses
Rawhide: The untanned hides of cattle that are strong
and hard when dry.
Reins: Strap that runs from the bridle bit around the horse's
neck that is held and manipulated by the cowboy. These straps
apply pressure on a horse's mouth and neck in order to steer the
Rodeo: Comes from the Spanish word "rodear" which
means "to surround." Rodeos began as a demonstration of
the skills they would use in a cattle roundup. Today it refers to
a contest of traditional cowboy riding and roping skills.
Roundup: In the spring and fall, cowboys came together to
ride the open-range and collect all cattle. They were sorted for
ownership in order to brand and ear-mark the calves, and separate
those that were to be shipped to market.
Saddle: Leather seat set on a horse to help the cowboy in
Slough: A depression or hollow on the prairies that is usually
filled with water and mud. A slough supports a great variety of
plant and animal life around it.
Spur: Metal device attached to the heel of a cowboy's boot
meant to encourage a horse to go faster or to pay attention.
Stampede (cattle): Comes from the Spanish word "estampida"
which means "pounding" or "loud sound." A stampede
was when a herd of cattle would get spooked or scared and they would
gallop away in a wild panic.
Stampede (event): The first Calgary Stampede took place
in 1912 and was created to celebrate Alberta's ranching lifestyle
Steer: A castrated bull that is raised and fed in
order to provide meat.
St. Elmo's Fire: An eerie glow sometimes seen on cattle's
long horns during a lightning storm. It is an electrical discharge
and commonly accompanied by a crackling or fizzing noise.
Stirrup: An apparatus hung from both sides of a saddle where
the cowboy puts his feet as he rides his horse.
Stock: All the animals kept or raised on a farm.
Stockmen's (or Cattlemen's) Association: A group of cattle
producers who originally came together to create solutions for problems
such as cattle rustling and brand protection. Now the group represents
the interests of beef producers and contributes to the profitable
growth of the cattle industry.
Transcript: If a museum object or document has text on it,
that text is transcribed, or written out, in case it is too small
or difficult to be read from the object itself.
Wrangler: A livestock herder, usually of saddle horses.