Code of The West

Don’t inquire into a person’s past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.

Never steal another man’s horse. A horse thief pays with his life.

Defend yourself whenever necessary.

Look out for your own.

Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table.

Never order anything weaker than whiskey.

Don’t make a threat without expecting dire consequences.

Never pass anyone on the trail without saying “Howdy”.

When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting before you get within shooting range.

Don’t wave at a man on a horse, as it might spook the horse. A nod is the proper greeting.

After you pass someone on the trail, don’t look back at him. It implies you don’t trust him.

Riding another man’s horse without his permission is nearly as bad as making love to his wife. Never even bother another man’s horse.

Always fill your whiskey glass to the brim.

A cowboy doesn’t talk much; he saves his breath for breathing.

No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse’s needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat.

Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses and cows.

Complain about the cooking and you become the cook.

Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.

Do not practice ingratitude.

A cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and cowboys hate quitters.

Always be courageous. Cowards aren’t tolerated in any outfit worth its salt.

A cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger or an enemy.

Never try on another man’s hat.

Be hospitable to strangers. Anyone who wanders in, including an enemy, is welcome at the dinner table. The same was true for riders who joined cowboys on the range.

Give your enemy a fighting chance.

Never wake another man by shaking or touching him, as he might wake suddenly and shoot you.

Real cowboys are modest. A braggert who is “all gurgle and no guts” is not tolerated.


Be there for a friend when he needs you.

Drinking on duty is grounds for instant dismissal and blacklisting.

A cowboy is loyal to his “brand,” to his friends, and those he rides with.

Never shoot an unarmed or unwarned enemy. This was also known as “the rattlesnake code”: always warn before you strike. However, if a man was being stalked, this could be ignored.

Never shoot a woman no matter what.

Consideration for others is central to the code, such as: Don’t stir up dust around the chuckwagon, don’t wake up the wrong man for herd duty, etc.

Respect the land and the environment by not smoking in hazardous fire areas, disfiguring rocks, trees, or other natural areas.

Honesty is absolute – your word is your bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract.

Live by the Golden Rule.

Old West Insults

He was mad enough to swallow a horn-toad backwards.                   

He’s so mean he’d steal a fly from a blind spider.                                     

He was so mean, he’d fight a rattler and give him the first bite.            

He was mean enough to steal a coin off a dead man’s eyes.                

He made an ordinary fight look like a prayer meetin’.                              

He was mean enough to eat off the same plate with a snake.               

He was so mad he could bite himself.                                                    

When I’m done with you, there won’t be enough left of you to snore.   

He was mean enough to hunt bears with a hickory switch.                  

 He was uglier than a new-sheared sheep.                                                 

 He has teeth so crooked he could eat corn on the cob through a picket fence.                                                                                                      His face was puckered like wet sheepskin before a hot fire.               

 Her face looks like a dime’s worth of dog meat.                                        

He was ugly as a burnt boot.                                                                         

 He was so ugly he had to sneak up on a dipper to get a drink of water.                                                                                                                    He looked like the hindquarters of bad luck.                                            

 His lip hangs down like a blacksmith’s apron.                                     

She’s so ugly, she could back a buzzard off a gut-wagon.                    

He looks so bad his ears flop.                                                                   

She’s so ugly, she’d make a freight train take a dirt road!                   

 He’s as ugly as homemade sin.                                                                 

She’s so ugly she could bluff a buzzard off a meat wagon.                   

He was crazy enough to eat the devil with hornson.                                                                                                                      He’s kinda off his mental reservation.                                                         

His brain cavity wouldn’t make a drinkin’ cup for a canary.                   

He couldn’t teach a hen to cluck.                                                                                                                    He knows as much about it as a hog does a hip pocket in a bathing suit.                                                                                                                      His knife’s so dull it wouldn’t cut hot butter.                                             

 He don’t know dung from wild honey.                                                            

 If all his brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough to blow his nose.                                                                                                                     He couldn’t cut a lame cow from a shade tree.                                           

 He couldn’t track an elephant in snow.                                                        

He was so dumb he couldn’t drive nails in a snowbank.                         

He’s as dull as dishwater.                                                                               

 He don’t know any more about it than a hog does a sidesaddle.         

He is plumb weak North of his ears.                                                           

 He had a ten dollar Stetson on a five-cent head.                                      

His family tree was a shrub.                                                                             

He couldn’t track a bed-wagon through a bog hole.                               

 He didn’t have nuthin’ under his hat but hair.                                           

He couldn’t hit the ground with his hat in three throws.                           

He was as shy of brains as a terrapin is of feathers.                                

He can’t tell skunks for house cats.                                                              

He is so thin he could take a bath in a shotgun barrel.                                 

He was so fat, you’d have to throw a diamond hitch to keep him in the saddle.                                                                                                                    If he closed one eye he’d look like a needle.                                             

 He is built like a snake on stilts.                                                                    

 He was grinnin like a weasel in a hen house.                                         

He’s as pleased as a pup with 2 tails.                                                           

He’s grinnin like a jack ass eatin cactus                                                    

She was as chipper as a jay bird.                                                                  

 He was grinnin’ like a baked possum.                                                    

 He’s as slow as molasses in January.                                                     

 He’s too lazy to yell “Sueee” in a pig pen.                                                     

He moves as slow as a crippled turtle.                                                      

He’s so lazy, molasses wouldn’t run down his legs.                            

He’s so crooked, he could swallow nails and spit out corkscrews.    

He told lies so well a man would be a foot not to believe them.         

He’s as crooked as a dog’s hind legs.                                                     

He’s lyin’ like a rug.                                                                                              

His voice sounded like someone forgot to grease the wagon.           

His singin’ was enough to make a she-wolf jealous.                               

He punished the air with his singing.                                                           

He had a voice like a burro with a bad cold.                                              

 He didn’t have manners enough to carry guts to a bear.                        

He couldn’t hit a bull’s rump with a handful of banjos.                           

 He was as drunk as a fiddler’s clerk.                                                      

She’s as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.He’d been in the desert so long, he knew all the lizards by their first names.                                                                                                                 He ain’t fit to shoot at when you want to unload and clean yo’ gun.  

His mustache smelled like a mildewed saddle blanket after it had been rid on a soreback hoss three hundred miles in August.                          

He was grittin’ his teeth like he could bite the sites off a six-gun.           

It was so dry the bushes followed the dogs around.                             

He’s as as dead as a can of corned beef.                                                

He’s as welcome as a rattlesnake at a square dance.                           

This saloon’s so bad, a rattlesnake’d be ashamed to meet his mother. He lasted as long as a pint of whiskey in a five-handed poker game.  She’s as pretty as a speckled pup.                                                              

 He is as poor as a church mouse.                                                                      

He’s as rich as possum gravy.                                                                      

 He was as popular as a wet dog at a parlor social.                                   

 He couldn’t track a bed-wagon through a bog hole.