Cowboy Lingo

I grew up in Wisconsin and the only “cows” I was ever around were the dairy variety–pretty harmless critters. But seeing how my favorite romance hero to write is the cowboy, especially the rodeo kind I’ve had to learn a whole lot of rodeo terminology in order to write my stories. In The Cowboy Next Door (July 2013), the heroine, Shannon Douglas, is a female bull rider vying for the title of Cowgirl Of The Year. Since I included several rodeo scenes in the book–even one where the Shannon is freight trained by a bull named Heat Miser…I thought it would be fun to share some of the rodeo lingo I used in the book.


Freight Train: A Contestant or clown that gets run over by a bull traveling at top speed

Head Thrower: A bull that tries to hit the cowboy with his head or horns while the contestant is on his back

Rank: A very hard animal to ride

Spinner: A bull that spins or turns as if chasing its tail. Scores high, especially if it spins both left and right

Bull Rope: The bull rope is what the bull rider grips throughout the ride. It is wrapped around the chest of the bull directly behind the animal’s front legs. At the bottom of the rope hangs a metal bell designed to give the rope some weight so that it will fall off the bull as soon as the rider is bucked off or dismounts the animal.

Flank Strap: A wool-lined strap with a self-holding buckle that is passed around the flank of a bronc or bull. As the stock leaves the chute, the strap is pulled tight causing the animal to buck in an effort to get rid of the strap.

Down in the Well: The expression “down in the well” is used by bull riders to describe a situation in which a bull is spinning in one direction and the force of the spin pulls the rider down the side of the bull into motion’s vortex. This is a dangerous scenario that often results in a bull rider getting hung up to the bull.

Hooked: When a bull rider dismounts from or is bucked off a bull, the bull sometimes goes after the rider or the bullfighter and attempts to hook the human target with his horns. This is known as being “hooked.”

Hung Up: Sometimes a rider gets tossed from a bull but is unable to free his riding hand from his bull rope and therefore is “hung up” to the bull. When this dangerous scenario occurs, the bullfighters often move in to help the bull rider free his hand from his rope and get away from the bull.

Spinner: A bull that displays a bucking pattern in which he spins in a tight circle throughout the ride is often referred to by bull riders as a “spinner.”


What’s your favorite event at a rodeo?


10 thoughts on “Cowboy Lingo

    • Cinthia, WI cows are like family pets, they love attention, lol! I don’t think rodeo bulls care whether or not someone stops to pat them on the head as they walk by πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by the blog and leaving a comment!

    • Hi Hilda–great to see you here! I’m glad you found your way to my new blog home. In my upcoming Oct 2013 book, Twins Under The Christmas Tree, the hero takes the twins to their first ever mutton bustin’ contest πŸ™‚

  1. I’ve got your book in my Amazon Cart, so I’ll be ready to push the button when it’s available! I truly can’t wait. I’m leaving for Mesa on 9/14 for 2 wonderful weeks, can’t wait for that, either! (Just recovering from whooping cough and pneumonia + high BP, so it’s been a rough August for me, but I’m ready to get back to normal!) I hope you’ve had a great summer. And as always, THANK YOU for sharing your wonderful talent with us!

    • Hilda, I’m so sorry you’ve had a rough time of lately–you need some sunshine and there’s plenty of that down here…I’ll keep my fingers crossed that our high humidity skips town during your visit. Safe travels to the desert and *Hugs* for buying my book…I think you’re going to like Conway πŸ˜‰

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