the lore of the old west there are a number of terms that are either
lost or in limited use today. Many of them are extremely interesting
and should be remembered not only for their historic value, but also
their practical value. One such term is "cavvy marks."
A "cavvy" is a group of ranch horses.
The word comes from the term "cavvietta," derived from Spanish and referring
to the whole herd of horses that a ranch owns. The cavvy of horses is
gathered by the horse wrangler in the morning and walked to the "ropes"
(a portable rope corral used to hold horses.) The "jigger boss"
(second in command to the cow boss) or the cow boss ropes the horses
from each buckaroo's string as requested by the buckaroos for the day.
One tool that was
used extensively was what they called "cavvy marks." These were marks
made by trimming a section of the mane hair in a certain way to mark
the training level of a horse. The cowboy way was often to travel
from outfit to outfit and when the old jigger boss quit, the new one
could more easily step into the job.
To mark the horses,
the section, about 6 inches long, of mane hair from the withers forward
was "roached" (trimmed as close as possible) using scissors or clippers.
This also keeps the mane hair from bunching under the saddle blanket
Another use for cavvy marks is if the horses get mixed with
a herd of wild mustangs, the cavvy marks can be seen from a distance
and are a good identifying mark to help separate your saddle horse from
the mustang herd.
If all the mane hair is roached
over the withers, the horse is a snaffle bit horse.
Two tufts of hair denotes a two-rein
One tuft of hair means the horse is
a straight-up bridle horse.