J is for jingle bob – Foley artists in Hollywood have added the jingle, jingle, jingle to movie sound tracks as the screen shows the lone cowpoke treading the boards out front of the saloon since sound was added to motion pictures. But even if you are a Western rider today, you may never have heard spurs make that sound.
A new spur with a well fitted rowel (a spur’s spiked wheel) is fairly quiet as you pace. As time and wear take its toll the rowel grows looser and, especially when silver is inlaid, will begin to make a jingle sound. It is much softer with a lower pitch than the familiar sound from films. So the green cow hand with new spurs didn’t jingle, jangle, jingle as he went along.
The jingle bob (also known as the Jingobob or Pajados in Spanish), in its most common form, is a pair of tiny metal fobs that dangle from the mandrills which pass through the rowels. These fobs knock against the rowels and make the instantly recognizable tinkling familiar to fans of westerns. So you may think it vanity that stirred the greenhorn. Afraid to be kidded over his rookie status, he add these janglers to his feet. Well in part that may be true, but there is a better reason.
The new man in a drive was often given the undesirable Nighthawk duty. This meant staying in the saddle ’til dawn and wandering among the herd keeping watch. The old hands could do this duty without incident, but greenhorns seemed to have a knack for stampeding the cattle. Some wise cowboy finally figured out that sleeping cattle were easily startled when surprised by the awkward new hand and the poor green kid did not enjoy the jangling a veterans’ spurs provided him to keep the steers aware there was a rider in their midst. And so the jingle bob was born – to the great relief of many greenhorns and old hands alike.
Of course there are plenty of folks that will tell you the jingle bob is no more than a leftover adornment from spurs the conquistadors wore and simply evolved into the Mexican and Texas style of spur, their cryptic purpose lost to history. Like so much of Western Myth, differing opinions abound. But one thing is certain:
The jingle bob makes a darned nice sound affect for those of us enamored with Westerns. Click below and listen!
Thank you to the following people for commenting yesterday:
- Kirsten – ascenicroute.wordpress.com
- Jen – werelivingafulllife.BlogSpot.com