J is for Jingle Bob

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 JINGBOBmotion 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 theJINGBOB1 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

7 thoughts on “J is for Jingle Bob

  1. Aha! At long last I know what a Jingle Bob is! Thank you. I have to laugh, too, because Jingle Bob’s was the name of my grandma’s favorite restaurant. She lived in New Mexico, and we’d take her out to an early dinner there every time we visited her. 😀

    ~Tui Snider~
    @TuiSnider on Twitter
    My blog: Tui Snider’s Offbeat & Overlooked Travel
    I am also part of the #StoryDam team, a friendly writing community!

  2. I’ve never heard of that bout jinglebobs!!! The jinglebob and spur chain share the same purpose… the sound.
    Traditional californio horsemen held the music made by them as something of extreme pride. It takes years working patiently with a horse to make a bridle horse. A horse that holds his head straight up in the bridle… using a spade bit. Spur chains ,jinglebobs ,an chains on the reins all make a jingle in rhythm ,when the horse steps in time….
    The horse gets off kilter an loses rhythm ,so does the music.
    Using a soft hand and patients the traditional California vaqueros controlled horses with but a couple fingers ,their lifes work where in the prestige of how many bridle horses they trained

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s