Cowboy Dictionary - Letters N-P
Near Side - The left side of a horse. The right side of a horse is the "off" side.
Night Latch - A leather strap (or something similar) attached to a saddle for the rider to use when a horse is bucking.
A rider grabs onto, and pulls on, a night latch when a horse is bucking to help pull themselves deeper into the saddle. A night latch is typically a leather strap, a short piece of rope, or something similar, that has been run through the gullet of the saddle.
Below: A pony ranch bronc rider uses a night latch.
Open Cow - A cow that is not currently bred, or pregnant.
Off Billet - A strap, usually made of leather or nylon, used for securing a saddle onto a horse.
The off billet is found on the right side of the saddle. It is attached to a "D" ring on the saddle, then is attached to the front cinch. (The word "off" in off billet is referring to the right side of the horse. See the definition immediately below this one.)
Off billets have been traditionally made of leather. Today, however, off billets made of nylon are also common.
Below: The yellow arrow is pointing to an off billet.
Off Side - The right side of a horse. The left side of a horse is the "near" side.
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Ox (Definition 1 of 2) - A male animal belonging to the genus Bos, which includes the species cattle, that has been castrated after reaching sexual maturity. The plural of "ox" is "oxen."
Ox (Definition 2 of 2) - Any member of the Bos genus (usually male, but can also be female) that is used for draft work.
Oxbox Stirrups - A kind of stirrup that has a rounded or "U" shaped appearance.
Below: An oxbow stirrup.
Oxbow stirrups (often simply referred to as "oxbows") are used by all types of horseback riders but are primarily seen among working cowboys and cowgirls.
Fans of oxbow stirrups like them for several reasons, including describing them as easier to "keep" (less likely to slip out of them) during hard or rough riding than other types of stirrups.
In addition, riders that prefer oxbows say that their design helps to prevent a rider's foot from hanging up when the rider is "in a storm," such as when a horse is bucking.
Pair - A "pair" is a way of referring to a mother cow and her calf. For example: "How many pairs did they buy?"
It is sometimes a cowboy's job to "pair up" cows and calves, which means to observe them until they determine which calves belong to which cows.
Below: A cow and her calf, or a "pair."
Pole Bending - Pole bending is a timed event that features a horse and rider running a serpentine pattern around six poles. The pole bending pattern consists of six poles spaced (usually) 21 feet apart in a straight line.
To run the course the horse and rider gallop past the start/finish line and down one side of the row of poles. Reaching the last pole, they turn around it and weave their way back through all the poles. When they reach the last pole they turn around it so they can weave their way back down through the line of poles in the opposite direction they just came. Upon once again reaching the last pole in the line they turn around it and run in a straight line to the start/finish line to stop the time. The fastest time wins.
Pole bending is often seen at junior high and high school rodeos, as well as horse shows on both local and national levels.
Below: A horse and rider competing in pole bending.
You can shop for pole bending bases and poles here.
Polled - The word "polled" means an animal that is naturally, or genetically, without horns.
An animal that was born with horns but had them removed at some point would be described as "dehorned," not polled.
The word "muley" is a casual or slang term sometimes used to describe cattle, and means the same thing as polled.
For more information about horns, please see our article about cow horns.
Below: The skull of a polled cow.
Pony - A pony is a member of the scientific family Equus ferus caballus, the same scientific family horses belong to. While the exact definition of a pony varies, it is commonly a matter of height: A pony is shorter than a horse.
To be more specific, ponies are commonly defined as being less than 14:2 (ie, 14 hands, 2 inches) when mature, while horses are 14:2 or taller when mature. (If you're not familiar with how horses and ponies are measured, this should help: How To Measure Horse Height.)
Need a quick translation? "14:2" is equivalent to 58 inches when measuring from the ground to the top of a horse or pony's withers.
In addition to being shorter than horses, ponies have other characteristics in common. For example, many ponies are known for their thick, muscular builds, and a tendency to carry extra weight. They also frequently have thick manes, forelocks, and tails.
All of these characteristics, however, aren’t necessarily accurate to all ponies, and some of these traits can even be true for some horses.
You can shop for pony saddles here.
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