In the classic old cowboy song, "I Ride an Old Paint", what are the meanings of the terms fiery and snuffy, in the chorus?

Ride around little dogies, ride around them slow / For the fiery and snuffy are rarin' to go

closed as general reference by Mehper C. Palavuzlar, Matt E. Эллен, Thursagen, simchona, Daniel Sep 17 '11 at 15:26

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Hi tom hocking. Thanks for taking the time to ask a question. What about the dictionary definitions of these words do you not understand? – Matt E. Эллен Sep 17 '11 at 8:29
  • Audio here: youtube.com/watch?v=SinOJQT5J4g – Hugo Sep 17 '11 at 8:45
  • @ Matt Эллен In the context of this song, there's a bit more to it than just the dictionary definitions. – Hugo Sep 17 '11 at 8:59
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    @Hugo- I'm sure that's the case, but that's not elaborated on here, in this question - hence my question. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 17 '11 at 13:36
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    If you, tom, can elaborate on how the dictionary definitions don't fit the lyrics, I will vote to reopen the question. At the moment, I just don't get it. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 17 '11 at 21:01

As with all good song lyrics, they can be interpreted differently. Here's some extracts of the discussion at Cowboy Poetry at the Bar-D Ranch:

  • snuffy meant "snuff colored, or reddish-brown."

  • fiery and snuffy referred to two different colored dogies and I think I remember my teacher telling me that it referred to the names of two locomotives waiting to take the cattle to market after the roundup.

  • In the Songs of the Wild West, with commentary by Alan Axelrod, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1991, the author says "...fiery (another term for paint) and the snuffy (a buff- or snuff-colored horse)..."

  • Regarding the meaning of "the fiery & snuffy" have always meant (to me) that the ones prone to spooking & snorting (the fiery & the snuff-y) are just LOOKING for an excuse to stampede. Seems perfectly obvious! And therefore, you would want to "ride around them SLOW."

  • The "Fiery & Snuffy" in "I Ride and Old Paint" refer to Lighting and Thunder. Those names for it were well known to anyone in Wyoming and Montana at the time the song was written. Note that the line is: "For the fiery and snuffy are ready to go." Often it is sung as: "For they're fiery and snuffy and ready to go," which also works if you consider the cattle to be fiery and snuffy. What it really refers to, though, is lightning and thunder.

  • [My dad] said "fiery" and "snuffy" were the campfire and branding iron.

  • Having worked as a cowboy in Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, and Idaho, and about the terms "fiery and snuffys": whenever you're holding up a herd of cattle to work, be it branding or cutting out steers, there are always a certain few in the herd that are looking for a chance to breakout of the hold up and head back to their home range.

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