A shout of encouragement for when people are riding on the backs of broncos and other untamed animals, like bulls.
Example: I went to the rodeo with my friend Bronson and he was really nervous because he was gonna do some bull riding for the first time. Before I knew it, he was on the animal’s back and holding on as it thrashed about. To encourage him, I shouted, “Ride him, cowboy!” But then he was thrown off and broke his arm. “Never again,” Bronson told me.
The Origin Of ‘Ride Him, Cowboy!’
Where does this phrase come from? It is likely that the saying ‘ride him, cowboy’ originates from rodeo events that people go to in order to watch or test their cowboy skills in a number of events that happen there. One event, for example, involves a participant from the rodeo climbing onto the back of a horse and trying to stay on as it attempts to throw the rider off. Thus, someone watching from the audience might shout to the rider, “ride him, cowboy!”
The earliest I could find this expression in writing is in the early 20th century, so it doesn’t appear to be that old. For example, in a magazine called Boy’s Life, 1924, the phrase is used as the title for a short article, which is then followed by a colorful description of what it’s like trying to stay on the back of a horse:
“Ride Him, Cowboy!
A headlong dash. A sudden stop. Whirl. Back again, twisting, rearing, pitching up and down, sideways, any old way! Horse and rider battling for supremacy.”
- It was Jill’s first time at the rodeo. When her friend climbed onto the back of a bronco and tried to stay on, she shouted “ride him, cowboy!” but the horse threw him off shortly after.
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