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Old Paint: What's a hoolian?

DigiTrad:
GOODBYE, OLD PAINT
I RIDE AN OLD PAINT


Related threads:
Lyr Add: Rebel Soldier (cf. Old Paint) (25)
(origins) Origins: I Ride An Old Paint (100)
I ride an old paint - houlighan? fiery & snuffy? (35)
Hoolian??????? (44)
old paint and goodbye old paint lyrics (3)
Lyr Req: Goodbye Old Paint (6)
Song Title please ?-I Ride an Old Paint (21)
(origins) Help: houlihan? - Old Paint (77)
Lyr Req: Riding Old Paint and Leading Old Ball (22)


leeneia 14 Oct 17 - 03:21 PM
Lighter 13 Oct 17 - 09:04 AM
GUEST,Jim K 10 Oct 11 - 08:36 PM
GUEST 26 Aug 11 - 12:10 PM
Martha Burns 06 Aug 11 - 03:27 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Aug 11 - 06:37 PM
Genie 04 Aug 11 - 06:25 PM
Genie 04 Aug 11 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,bboy 04 Aug 11 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,Clint 15 Feb 11 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Danishdolly 06 Jan 11 - 10:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Dec 10 - 05:59 PM
GUEST,me 17 Dec 10 - 11:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Nov 10 - 09:25 PM
Sorcha 26 Sep 10 - 04:52 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Sep 10 - 04:38 PM
Amos 26 Sep 10 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,CrackerJackLee 26 Sep 10 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,CrackerJackLee 26 Sep 10 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,lesley 22 Apr 10 - 05:56 PM
kendall 11 Apr 10 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,guest 10 Apr 10 - 09:49 PM
lefthanded guitar 02 Feb 10 - 06:51 PM
Alice 02 Feb 10 - 06:23 PM
Art Thieme 02 Feb 10 - 05:10 PM
mg 02 Feb 10 - 04:30 PM
GUEST 02 Feb 10 - 04:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Sep 09 - 03:52 PM
Stringsinger 23 Sep 09 - 03:32 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Sep 09 - 02:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Sep 09 - 01:40 PM
GUEST 23 Sep 09 - 12:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Aug 09 - 09:52 PM
Peace 17 Aug 09 - 09:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Aug 09 - 09:20 PM
Amos 17 Aug 09 - 08:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Aug 09 - 08:49 PM
Ferrara 17 Aug 09 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Aug 09 - 03:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Aug 09 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,Larry in Oregon 16 Aug 09 - 05:37 PM
Bud Savoie 27 Oct 00 - 08:11 PM
DougR 27 Oct 00 - 03:00 PM
richardw 26 Oct 00 - 03:03 PM
Kim C 26 Oct 00 - 09:57 AM
WyoWoman 26 Oct 00 - 09:54 AM
Timehiker 26 Oct 00 - 03:22 AM
Lonesome EJ 26 Oct 00 - 12:29 AM
dick greenhaus 23 Nov 99 - 04:18 PM
_gargoyle 23 Nov 99 - 03:52 PM
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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: leeneia
Date: 14 Oct 17 - 03:21 PM

All is resolved. Open this document:

https://www.loc.gov/folklife/LP/CowboySongs_opt.pdf

Go to page 3 and read all about it, including what a hoolihan is.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Lighter
Date: 13 Oct 17 - 09:04 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,Jim K
Date: 10 Oct 11 - 08:36 PM

Les B. is right on about the hoolian. I've been raised among cowboys and my brother-in-law is 84 and still cowboys some. He showed me how to throw a hoolian to catch a horse. It is indeed kind of a backward and overhand throw. You do this without swinging the rope. It is a difficult move to make with any accuracy.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 12:10 PM

It's a loop to rope cattle


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Martha Burns
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 03:27 AM

Dick, Your dad was a real live cowboy?! Is this true??


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Aug 11 - 06:37 PM

Coulee is generally considered to be a Canadian French term, variously applied to a shallow ravine or small stream, sometimes to a dry streambed.
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Versions have leading old Dan, Ball, Fan, or dam; take your pick. It is wrong to say that one is more correct than another.

Montana is a large and varied state, mountains and plains, good grass to semi-desert.

See preceeding posts re. hooleyann (hoolian) and hoolihan; usually the first is defined as rope work, the second as throwing a party (after the drive was over, etc.) or a rodeo type of roping, but both appear in versions and it is up to the singer.

Most of this has appeared in previous posts.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Genie
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 06:25 PM

I guess that term refers to ravines or gulches where the horses feed.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Genie
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 06:23 PM

OK, but what are the "coulees" that the horses feed in?


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,bboy
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 05:28 AM

Instead of saying riding he said ride an and a hooley-ann is a roping term.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,Clint
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 08:47 PM

In the song the singer actually says, I ride an old paint and I lead an old dam. A dam is by defintion the mother of a domesicated animal, in this case it's another horse actually a mare. A hoolian is a way to throw a lasso's loop perpendicualar to the ground. This throw is used in catching horses as many horses can see an over-head loop coming at them and will duck out it. The hoolian forms a loop that they run into.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,Danishdolly
Date: 06 Jan 11 - 10:04 PM

Wyoming Grandpa cowboy favored "dan" was an male mule/horse cross pack animal and a hoolian is a rope loop used workin the horses. Sure miss Grandpa, he was the real thing.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 05:59 PM

Guest, do your fuckin' behind the barn.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,me
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 11:24 PM

its a fuckin hoolahan!! damn! wher are my fellow ranchhands??


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 09:25 PM

Now some versions have it-
I'm ridin' old Paint, I'm a-leadin' old Fan; .......

and then-
My hosses ain't hungry, they won't eat your hay;
My wagon is loaded and rollin' away.
*With a pack on old Baldy and ridin' old Dan,
I'm a-goin' to Montan' to throw the hoolihan**.

*Verse variation mentioned in Lomax and Lomax, Cowboy Songs and other Frontier Ballads.

Could be the singer was too drunk to know what he was ridin'.

The whole thing is confused; In the first verse he says "Goodbye, old Paint," and in the second verse he's ridin' him.

**hoolian? The two terms both confused and used interchangably.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Sorcha
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 04:52 PM

I know it as old dan....either a name of a horse or a colour of horse.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 04:38 PM

Old gal, old flame, old school, old bastard.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Amos
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 04:14 PM

PEts and personal animals are often called "Old" in the same sense that people are sometimes called "God old ____" (I think I was fifteen the first time someone referred to me that way.


A


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,CrackerJackLee
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 03:44 PM

The choice of "old" in "old paint" and "old dam" do seem to point to retirement or death... it lends a noble theme to the entire song, doesn't it...?


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,CrackerJackLee
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 03:22 PM

What about "I'm leadin' ol' Fan"...?


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,lesley
Date: 22 Apr 10 - 05:56 PM

My theory, which I can never prove, is that it was collected orally, or on tape, and should go

I ride an old paint, I lead an old dam,
I"m going to Montana to throw the whole hand...
(i.e. give up, give it all away)

This is on the basis that its a song about failure and despair- "their tails are all matted and their backs are all raw..."
"... and the daughter went wrong"
"his wife got killed in a free for all fight"

I'm not American but wasnt Montana some version of badlands ? not as bad as the black hills but not good luck ?
And the Fiery and the Snuffy would be names of prob the lead bullocks.

I read ir in an old book of folk songs years ago,along with the hoolihan debate and to me it stuck out a mile that it was a mistake transcribing, and I've been comfortable with my version ever since. Its an oral tradition, right ?


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: kendall
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 07:03 AM

I used to complicate it by thinking the Dan (DAM) was a mare.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 09:49 PM

I just like the song.... Lol


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 06:51 PM

I've been singing this song for ages, and had no idea what a hoolihan was. Or a firey or snuffy, tho that seems to still be under debate.
Thanks.

btw the line I first learned was
"One went to Denver and the other went wrong" ah the folk process doncha love it, I woulda thought the one who went to Denver went wrong anyways. lol


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Alice
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 06:23 PM

I linked to this sculpture in one of the other threads about this song...

Cowboy doing a houlihan throw.... by Steve Miller


Alice Flynn
in Montana


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 05:10 PM

Hot Lips?


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: mg
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 04:30 PM

I absolutely don't agree...but it is up to each person of course..that changing the words because they don't make sense to us is a good idea. Of course, no one will stop you, but I certainly won't say it is a wonderful idea..if all our lives we heard I lead an old Dan..who should be the one to change it...unless it were a truly offensive word etc. mg


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 04:04 PM

The Houlihan
In the years of chaos during and after the Civil War, wild horses became plentiful. Many were turned loose to keep them out of the hands of the enemy army. Many were set free as they could not be cared for with the men off fighting the war. Others escaped from battlefields both during the Civil War and in the following years of running battles with the Great Plains Indians. By the 1880's thousand of wild horses roamed the rich grass lands from Kansas to Montana.
Catching breaking and selling these hearty horses could be good business for a man proficient with a rope, and settin' a saddle. Like most things cowboy there was an art to catching wild horses. A free running horse with no rider could not usually be run down by a horse carrying a man in a saddle, (except in Hollywood movies), and if he could be run down, a good cowboy may not want him. Unlike cattle, long necked agile horses will easily duck a loop thrown over their head from behind, and a neck loop on a wild free running horse was dangerous to the horse.
A well thrown loop could scoop up the front feet of a running horse before he could dodge, duck, or jump it, that was the skill of the houlihan cowboy. The free running horse could then be stopped, also requiring much skill from the cowboy, and a good solid saddle horse. In the late 1800's life was rough and tough, and often things were done as part of every day working life that we may not understand today. But hobble stopping or even tripping a horse was, in those days, considered the safest way to catch them and get a handle on them. Neck roping a hard running wild horse too often resulted in the death of a wild one that would not quit the fight. No cowboy would risk injury to a good prospect.
The houlihan is swung counter clock wise, opposite a traditional loop, and opened at the throw with the flick of an agile wrist. It was not an easy throw and required years of practice to perfect. Being a roper I have long admired the roping skills of our cowboy ancestors, and that was the inspiration for "The Houlihan." It is a skill all but lost today, and I proudly honor it in this sculpture I hope every cowboy, roper, and cowboy at heart will appreciate.
Steve Miller


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 03:52 PM

"Hooley" is also an Irish term for a party. Sort of less formal relation of a Ceili (spell it how you will).

None of which I imagine has anything to do with the song.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 03:32 PM

"In response to our posting that information, Rod Miller wrote "The line 'throw the Hoolihan' that appears in 'I Ride an Old Paint' almost surely refers to a type of loop used in roping, often for catching horses. A hoolihan is a kind of backhand loop, but distinct from a regular backhand loop in that the roper rolls his wrist and the loop rolls over in the air. That rolling motion also describes the motion of a hoolihanned steer in bulldogging -- it does a forward roll. It is unlikely that the line in the song has reference to bulldogging as Bill Pickett is credited with inventing that particular activity long after, I suspect, 'I Ride an Old Paint" was first written and sung."


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 02:10 PM

McGrath is correct; the paper is believed to have used a popular corruption of the name of the gang's leader, Hooley. The OED says this is generally believed, but also in the 1890s, the word hooligan appeared as the name of a rowdy Irish family in a music hall song.

There is no Russian connection.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 01:40 PM

You can mention it, but that doesn't mean it's true. It seems generally agreed that the word comnes from the name of an Irish family living in London in the 1890s who got themselves a reputation as being a hard bunch.

"It is no wonder that Hooligan gangs are bred in these vile by-ways" (Daily News, 26th July 1898.)


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 12:27 PM

Just thought I'd mention that hooligan has nothing to do with the irish or cowboys. The word originated in Russia.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 09:52 PM

Hoolihaning, the rodeo term (now an illegal move) need not be discussed here.

From reading the link by Peace, it is apparent that, to some cowboys, hoolihan = hooleyann; thus Amos may be right.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Peace
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 09:28 PM

Good site here re two terms in the song.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 09:20 PM

Hooley-ann is a type of roping used in a corral to separate out horses for work. It is a fast loop and a head catch. Several men can catch their choice at the same time without alarming the bunch (Excerpt from Ramon F. Adams, "Western Words.").
Dunno when the term was coined (also hoolian).


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Amos
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 08:55 PM

I have sung this song for fifty years and have never sung it other than "An' I'm leading old Dan" nor ever thought it meant anything but rope work. But that's me, of course. It just speaks to me sense of the song.


A


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 08:49 PM

We always sang it "and a-leadin' old Dan."

Dunno where the 'an' came from (did Lonesome EJ coin it?), but cowboys never worried overmuch about the niceties of their lingo. I guess that old Dan was the pack animal, but he could be a spare- why worry about it?

Most cowboys separate hoolihan (party time) from hooley-ann (kind of roping) but no one seems to know where either term came from. Have the terms always been separate, or did one evolve from the other? Neither Adams nor Gilbert y Chavez say anything about origins of the two terms in their lexicons.
I interpret 'hoolihan' as having a good time, but could it also mean that the cowboy is at loose ends and is going to Montana to see what turns up? (approaching the meaning Ferrara ascribes to it).
Either meaning is OK by me.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Ferrara
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 03:51 PM

What's wrong with "I lead an old Dan"? Not to mention "I ride an old paint," which is perfectly clear. Cowboys in the 19th century used a lot of expressions that have disappeared from everyday life. It could have been common at the time to refer to animals with "a" or "the" -- as in "the Fiery and the Snuffy." Besides, they tended to have an excellent sense of humor and to love plays on words. Maybe "an old paint" was descriptive, and the pack horse was named Dan, and whoever wrote the song just liked the little wordplay.

This song is puzzling in a number of ways but so far no one has given a good rationale for messing with it.

I can't figure out why "throw the houlihan" in this song would be taken to mean have a wild time? Or anything except throw a rope? I always believed it means just what it says.... the singer is going to Montana to work there as a cowboy. Maybe the last job folded, maybe the singer just got restless and wanted to move on to somewhere else.

Oh, I just remembered something -- maybe he's changing his line of work (from farming). Dick Rodgers used to sing a verse I liked that went something like this:

All my life I've worked on a farm
All I got to show is the muscle in my arm.
I'll ride an old Paint, I'll lead an old Dan,
I'm goin' to Montana to throw the houlihan.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 03:34 PM

It is my view that no matter how many times a silly line has been re-printed, it's still silly. Old-time cowboys probably talked pretty much the way we do, and their songs ought to make sense to us.

Thus the line

'I ride an old paint and I lead an old dan...'

is probably bogus. Nobody knows of a noun 'dan' which has anything to do with cowboys.

It is reasonable to suppose that Paint is the name of one horse and Dan is the name of another. From what I have read, cowboys were not given to fanciful names for their mounts, and a painted horse called Paint is likely.

That changes the first line to

I ride old Paint and I lead (2 notes on 'lead') old Dan (2 notes)

It evokes a clear picture and it keeps the listener from being distracted from the goal - which is to share the world of a cowboy.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Aug 09 - 07:46 PM

hooley-ann, or hoolian, has been discussed six ways to breakfast in several threads here.

Neither Ramon Adams, "Western Words," Univ. Oklahoma Press, nor Gilbert y Chavez, Vaquero/Cowboy Lingo in "Cowboys- Vaqueros" ascribe a source.

Julio? Dunno. Not the one I know.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: GUEST,Larry in Oregon
Date: 16 Aug 09 - 05:37 PM

Watya wann bet that a hoolian was a gentle way of roping horeses in a corral taught to cowboys by a mexican Vaquero named Julien?

Think about the pronunciation....


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Bud Savoie
Date: 27 Oct 00 - 08:11 PM

I heard someplace that Fiery and Snuffy were a couple of notoriously spooky cattle, and when they jumped, the herd would stampede. That is why the line about them is preceded by "ride around the little dogies, ride around 'em slow." Don't do anything to stir them up, because Fiery and Snuffy are just itching to start another stampede. It was a song sung to the cattle at night by the hand assigned the job of riding around the herd to keep them quiet until morning.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: DougR
Date: 27 Oct 00 - 03:00 PM

I think Gargoyle is right on the firie and the snuffy. I always felt "lead old Dan," was refering to a pack hourse, but as WyoWoman says, it could have been a mule.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: richardw
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 03:03 PM

See the other thread now going at the same time.

Richard Wright


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Kim C
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:57 AM

I once read somewhere that fiery and snuffy had to do with the colors of the horses and their markings. Didn't make sense to me either. I'll have to see can I find that at home and get back to you. :)


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:54 AM

I also love this song, and I thought an old dan was a pack mule...

Thanks for refreshing this thread... I'll add this to the song list for my NEXT Mudcat concert.

ww


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Timehiker
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 03:22 AM

From my own experience working with horses, a houlian is a loop used for catching horses milling around in a corral. It's done with one easy swing to the side and an underhand toss. The loop travels vertical to the ground, and the horse basically runs through it. This, for the reasons that Les posted earlier. It does appear that the cowboy is using it as a slang expresion for having a good time. I don't know how the two are connected. From the context, I had always pictured Old Dan as a pack horse. (Ride one, pack one.) And, to us, firey, and snuffy have always meant hot blooded, nervous, or otherwise agitated horses or cattle. I've always loved this song.
Take care
Timehiker


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 12:29 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 04:18 PM

My daddy, who was a for-real cowboy during his earlier years, knew the song, and sang:

"They're firey and snuffy and ...."

which makes perfect sense to me, at least.


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Subject: RE: Old Paint: What's a hoolian?
From: _gargoyle
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 03:52 PM

This links to the other thread which has a more detailed description and discussionHoolihan

No connection to the cowboy usage...but there was also the character in the movie "MASH" called "Hot-Lips Hollihan."


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