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Saddles & Tack Glossary
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On this page, you will find the explanations for terms dealing with cowboy saddles, tack and equipment, including the origins of many of the words.  Much of this horse equipment is regional and much changes with the function or event for which it will be used.  You may search for a particular term or browse on down the page.  This page is graphic-rich, so please be patient while it loads.  Click on the pictures for a larger view.

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Anvil:  hard surface used to shape horseshoes or pound rivets.
bridle on a horse 

BRIDLE: (la brida, el freno) the head harness for a horse, basically consisting of the headstall, bit, chin strap and reins, but often including also a brow band, nose strap, and throat latch.

Allie Bear ruby mounted silver bit BIT: (el freno) - metal mouthpiece on a bridle, when connected to reins, used to steer the horse.  There are a great many variations on bit shapes and severity.  Some types include half-breed, spade, snaffle, curb, and ring bits. 
 rawhide bosal
BOSAL:  (bozal) noseband, usually of braided rawhide, used with headstall to make a hackamore.   Usually used with a mecate for reins.
Angel wearing a breast collar BREAST COLLAR:  strap, often made of leather, that passes around the animal's chest and is attached to the saddle.  Used to keep the saddle from sliding back.
britchin BRITCHIN:  (Breeching) Leather strap arrangement fitting over an animal's hind quarters to keep a saddle from slipping forward.  Essential on mules because of their slim shoulders.  See packsaddle
The term breeching also refers to a permanent identification mark made horizontally across both sides of a cow's rump (in the same place the leather strap is shown on the mule in the photo).  
bucking rolls BUCKING ROLLS:  padded attachments at the front of the saddle to supplement the swells to help the rider stay in the saddle.  Most often used on A-fork saddles.
cantle CANTLE: (la teja) arched, rear portion of the saddle tree.
Chance wearing a choker style breast collar CHOKER:  different style of breast collar.  The term is regional to the Great Basin.  Also called 'martingale.'
cinch CINCH: (la cincha) a leather or fabric band (or girth) that holds the saddle on the horse's back by being tightened around its body just behind the front legs. Usually it is fastened to leather straps (latigos) that hang from the rigging on each side of the saddle.
double rigged saddle double rigged - two cinches, one forward and one (flank) behind the seat.
single rigged saddle single rigged - one cinch which can be attached at different distances back on a saddle. 3/4, 7/8 etc.
CONCHO: (la concha) a metal disk, often of silver, sometimes a leather rosette that secures saddle strings or used as other decoration.  Etymology is from the Spanish word "concha" meaning "shell"
conchos ROSETTE: (la roseta) a circular design; on western stock saddles, a small leather disk with two slits for thongs or saddle strings to pass through, securing skirts to saddletree.
crupper on a mule CRUPPER:  A leather strap that goes around an animal's tail to keep the saddle from slipping forward.   Most often used on mules
dally26.jpg (31593 bytes) Dally:  (dale vuelta) When roping, wrapping the rope counter-clockwise around the saddle horn to hold the animal or object roped.

In south Texas cowboys don't dally much but actually tie the lariat to the horn, called 'Hard And Fast'.

fiodor28.jpg (32419 bytes) FIADOR KNOT:  (Sometimes called Theodore knot)  The fiador is a type of throatlatch sometimes used on a bosal hackamore.  The fiador prevents the headgear from falling off the horse's head.  The fiador knot is the knot under the jaw.  It is known as the hardest knot to tie in horse gear. 
Get-Down Rope:   A hair rope (mecate) attached to a bosalito (small bosal).  Used with California-style rein setup to lead or tie your horse.

HACKAMORE: (la jaquima) The traditional jaquima hackamore consists of a headstall, noseband (bosal)often of braided rawhide, a strap that runs behind the horses ears (hanger),and mecate tied into looped reins and a lead rope.
The first stage of training in the California tradition of horsemanship.

JJ in a mechanical hackamore MECHANICAL HACKAMORE:  metal version of the above with metal side pieces that work on the nerves of the nose and a chain under the jaw that works on the nerves there.  Sometimes called a broken-jaw hackamore.
halter HALTER: (el cabestro) a headstall usually with an attached rope or strap, for holding and leading an animal.
harness03a.jpg (96439 bytes) Harness:  Sets of straps, collars, reins, and hardware that are used on horses in order to have them pull a wagon.
headstall15.jpg (17054 bytes) Headstall:  Straps that go over a horse's head which, together with a bit and reins, form the bridle. There are many different styles.
quick release hobbles HOBBLES: (manellos) straps or a piece of rope placed around a horse's legs to keep it from wandering off.
"mule hide" wrapped saddle horn HORN: (la cabezal) the projection, often bent forward, above the pommel used for dallying a rope.  Different style horns are regional.  Different style horns are used for cutting and roping.
SLICK HORN: in the California and Great Basin traditions, saddle horns are not wrapped with rubber or any other material that causes the rope to grab the horn.  This allows the rope to slide when dallied and is thought to be gentler on both horse and cattle.  This is one reason for the longer length ropes used in this area.  These horns can be wrapped with mule hide.
wpe8.jpg (18074 bytes) KEEPER:  piece of leather attached to the saddle through which loose equipment or saddle parts can be hooked.
  KIAKS:  pack boxes made of rawhide laced on wooden frames. 
double rigged saddle LATIGOS:  leather straps to which the cinch is secured, each suspended from a latigo ring (or rigging ring), one on the near or on-side (el latigo) and sometimes one on the off-side of a single rigged saddle; on a double-rigged saddle there is also a second (flank) cinch.  Some saddles have an off-side billet to secure the cinch instead of a second latigo. 
The terms 'Cinch Strap' and 'off-side cinch strap' are used in south Texas, There, the leather strings used to tie stuff like ropes or a bedroll on with, are called 'latigos.'
martingale or training fork MARTINGALE: (la gammara) strap from the (front) cinch to the bridle, or ending in two rings through which the reins pass, to help control the horse.  Also used to refer to the "choker" style breast collar.
horsehair mccarty  McCarty:  Macardy (el mecate) A rope, often of braided or twisted horsehair, that is used as a combination rein and lead rope.
McClellan Cavalry saddle McClellan: style of military issue light-weight saddle used by the U.S. Cavalry.
MOCHILA:  Mail pouch the Pony Express riders carried on their saddles to hold the mail.
Morral or nose bag

MORRAL:  A feed bag for a horse that fits over its nose.  Also called a nose bag.  It is a handy method of feed a horse grain or pellets.  Little feed is wasted and one animal cannot eat another's ration.

nightlatch NIGHT LATCHSafety strap attached to the saddle for the rider to hold on to in order to stay on a contrary horse.
Pannier PANNIER: a basket, bag, box, or similar container, used in pairs either slung over the back of a horse, mule, or other beast of burden or hung on a packsaddle to carry goods.
sawbuck style pack saddle SAWBUCK PACKSADDLE: (la albarda) (juste) simple wooden framework with crossed ends placed on animal's back to carry loads.
Decker pack saddle DECKER PACKSADDLE:  different style pack saddle with metal rings to support the load. 
Decker style pack saddle with metal arches rather than rings The pack saddle pictured on the left is made by Tom Padgitt, Waco, Texas and has metal arches with "horns" for tying, rather than traditional rings.

RAWHIDE:  The hide of a cow, stretched, dried, and scraped, that can be braided and made into gear such as reins and ropes.  Very strong.  The cowboy in the photos is cutting strips of rawhide from a big circle of it.  The strips then can be braided into gear.
reins REINS: (las riendas) strap or cord (in pairs) that runs from the bridle bit around the horse's neck, to be held and manipulated by the rider.  These straps manipulate the bit and apply pressure on a horses mouth and neck in order to steer the animal. 
Reins are of two general types, open (split) and closed.  Texas cowboys prefer open reins.  One advantage of that type is that they are not joined together, so that if a rider is thrown, he is not in danger of becoming entangled. 
calif06.jpg (26036 bytes) Ropers and buckaroos are partial to closed reins.  Closed reins are attached to each other. 

California style reins often have a long flexible quirt called a "romal" attached.

ROMAL:  a quirt or whip attached to a set of California style reins.
showing saddle rigging with latigo centerfired RIGGING RING: (la argolla) latigo ring.
ROPES:     Extensive look at different type of ropes given on the Personal Gear Page
buckaroo saddle SADDLE: (la silla) (Also called a "wood.") seat type device set on an animal to facilitate riding it.  Different styles are used in different parts of the country and for different uses. 
the pommel is the front arched portion of a saddle POMMEL: (la campana) forward, arched portion of saddletree.
SWELLS: bulging shoulders of the saddle pommel
FORK: (el fuste) saddletree, bows of saddletree.
GULLET: (el interior del arzon) inside of the pommel or the front edge of the forward arch of the saddle.
pad04.jpg (27727 bytes)

blanket35.jpg (41247 bytes)

SADDLE BLANKET OR PAD: (el cojin, el baste) heavy blanket or pad  placed under the saddle to protect it from dirt and to help conform the saddle to the animal's back.
saddle bags SADDLE BAGS: (las cantinas) (bolsas) large leather or canvas piece with attached pockets, placed over the rear extensions of the saddle to carry extra gear.
Saddle strings SADDLE STRINGS: (los tientos) narrow strips of tanned leather, usually in pairs, that lace through the saddletree or coverings, and are held on surface by rosettes; the long ends are decorative and also serve to tie on ropes, and other pieces of equipment.
In south Texas, leather strings used to tie stuff like ropes or a bedroll on with, are called 'Latigos'.
tree53.jpg (14311 bytes) SADDLETREE: (el fuste de silla) framework, often of wood covered with rawhide, consisting of two side-boards connected by two forks for the pommel and cantle; the conformation of these parts gives the saddle its characteristic shape and name.  There are many different styles of saddletree. 
See page on saddle making.
sidesaddle22.jpg (29917 bytes) SIDESADDLE: ladies' riding saddle.  Women began to ride astride when they needed to do  ranch work.  The style of riding sidesaddle began to go out of fashion around the turn of the 20th century.
shoo fly SHOO-FLY:  tassel like accessory, often made of horse hair, that swings as the horse moves scaring away flies and other insects.  Often attached to the front cinch.
shoo-fly for the throat latch Here is another shoo-fly for the throat latch.
square saddle skirts SKIRTS: (las faldas) large leather panels attached to the saddletree, to protect the rigging and give form to the saddle. 
The skirts on this saddle are square.
snowshoe22.jpg (27753 bytes) SNOWSHOES  for horses. Shod horses will build up snowballs in their hooves making it difficult to impossible to travel.  Shoes are usually pulled in areas with heavy snowfall during the winter months.  This clamp-on shoe would help that problem.  It appears to have been wrapped with burlap for padding against the hoof.
Thanks to Scott J. Lawson, Director
Plumas County Museum  for the following additional photos and information on horse snowshoes:
horse snowshoes horse snowshoes
"The reason for them is that the snow in the Sierras gets quite deep, and the horses would "post hole" in the snow. These shoes helped to keep them up near the surface. Normally, colts were started with them to get them used to the odd gait they had to walk. Older horses could be trained, but it was a harder job usually. Also, the horse snowshoe was invented about 1866 at Spanish Ranch in Plumas County, California, about six miles west of Quincy. There are a few folks in NE California who claim the invention came from their area, but we have actual documentation of it happening here. I have attached a photo showing a sleigh with snowshoe equipped horses."
SOOGAN:  (also: sougan)  Quilt or comforter in a cowboy's bedroll. 
monnel stirrup STIRRUP: (el estribo) a device hung from each side of a saddle to receive the rider's foot.  Stirrups come in different widths and cowboys prefer different style stirrups for different tasks.
oxbow stirrups Oxbow stirrups:  Narrow stirrups sometimes made of metal and sometimes preferred by bronc riders.
Bell stirrups:  Wide stirrups common to the buckaroo country.  Wide stirrups make it easier to "trot out" for a number of miles in the big country.  A long trot is the gait of choice for buckaroos that need to travel long distances horseback to reach the place where they will start to work.
TAPADEROS: also called taps.  Stirrup covers to protect rider's feel from brush and weather.  They come in different styles.
Eagle bill (or eagle beak) taps:  Tapaderos with long pieces of leather hanging below the stirrups.  When moving cattle, a cowboy can slap the pieces of leather together by wiggling their legs and the noise helps push the cattle.
Bulldog taps:  Blunt nosed stirrup covers to protect the feet & stirrups.
monkey nose taps made of rawhide Monkey nose taps:  Blunt nosed stirrup covers used strictly to protect the feet & stirrups.
Two-Rein Two-Rein:  Bridle and hackamore transitional setup.  The horse wears both the bridle and the hackamore and the rider actually uses four reins (two reins on each side) to control the horse.
Fender covering stirrup leathers STIRRUP LEATHERS: (los arciones) adjustable straps that suspend the stirrups from the saddletree
FENDER: (el alero) leather piece projecting back from stirrup leather to protect the rider's legs. In south Texas, they use the term 'Sweat leather.'
wood - another term for saddle WOOD:  Another term for "saddle"


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