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cull the herd

1. Literally, to separate or remove (and usually kill) inferior animals out of a herd so as to reduce numbers or remove undesirable traits from the group as a whole. We had to quickly cull the herd when it came to light that some cows might be carrying an infectious disease.
2. By extension, to separate or remove people from a larger group. With so many people applying for a limited number of jobs, employers have had to cull the herd by introducing much stricter criteria and a more elaborate application for hiring. Universities have long used standardized test results as a means of culling the herd of applicants they receive each year.
See also: cull, herd

be like herding cats

To be very unwieldy or unmanageable; to be nearly impossible to organize. Usually said of a group of people. Getting all of the extended family into their right places for the reunion photo was like herding cats! It's like herding cats trying to manage all these different software development teams.
See also: cat, herd, like

herd cats

To attempt to coordinate or control subjects that are uncooperative. Often used as a point of comparison in the phrase "like herding cats." Trying to get my two toddlers out the door these days is like herding cats!
See also: cat, herd

ride herd on (someone or something)

To keep an eye on someone or something to supervise or maintain control. (An allusion to a cowboy riding on his horse to keep a herd of cattle in order.) We want the groups of students to work independently, but we should have a teacher riding herd on each one to make sure they stay focused. Being a camp counselor is a lot of fun, but having to ride herd on a bunch of kids for two weeks at a time can be exhausting.
See also: herd, on, ride

herd someone or something together

to bunch people or animals together. Let's herd all the kids together and take them in the house for ice cream and cake. I herded all the puppies together and put them in a box while I cleaned their play area.
See also: herd, together

like herding frogs

Rur. chaotic; disorderly. (On the image of trying to direct frogs, which will jump any which way.) Trying to get those kids to march into the auditorium is like herding frogs. Trying to get everybody to cooperate is like herding frogs.
See also: frog, herd, like

ride herd on someone or something

Fig. to supervise someone or something. (Alludes to a cowboy supervising cattle.) I'm tired of having to ride herd on my kids all the time. My job is to ride herd on this project and make sure everything is done right.
See also: herd, on, ride

ride herd on

Keep close watch or tight control over, as in Aunt Martha is always riding herd on her bridge club, making sure they follow the rules . This idiom alludes to the cowboy who rides around a herd of cattle to keep them together. [Late 1800s]
See also: herd, on, ride

ride herd on someone/something

If someone rides herd on other people or their actions, they control them. It's his job to ride herd on organizers to keep them on schedule. Note: People sometimes use over instead of on. The ideal situation is one where everyone feels responsible and no one person has to ride herd over the others. Note: Originally, `riding herd' involved patrolling on horseback around a herd of animals, in order to make sure none of them wandered away.
See also: herd, on, ride, someone, something

ride herd on

keep watch over.
Literally, this North American expression means ‘guard or control a herd of cattle by riding round its edge’.
1999 Coloradoan (Fort Collins) That, in turn, would detract from his ability to ride herd on Washington special interests, allowing deficits to grow like mushrooms under a rotten log.
See also: herd, on, ride

ride ˈherd on somebody/something

(American English, informal) keep watch or control over somebody/something: Police are riding herd on crowds of youths on the streets.
See also: herd, on, ride, somebody, something

ride herd on

To keep watch or control over.
See also: herd, on, ride
References in periodicals archive ?
Once again, we separated to work the herd from both sides.
Following the Pied Pier: Do individual returns herd around the market?
111) Here, the herd share operates in a "gray area" where it is neither expressly permitted nor expressly prohibited under the law.
In the last decade, however, seroprevalence in some non-feeding ground elk herds has increased to levels similar to those of feeding ground herds, suggesting that brucellosis is now self-sustaining in these populations (11).
CHAMPIONS: Sandy Herd (right) and five times Open winner James Braid pictured at Trentham links in 1904
The sheep might behave differently when faced with different threats or in differently sized herds.
1) You're going to be fighting an uphill battle when attempting to get within bow range of a herd bull because they are constantly surrounded by other elk.
The land is adjacent to that where farmer Roger Pride was grazing his herd, which tested positive for the disease last week.
This herd was in land adjacent to the first herd to be infected.
The ranch, owned and operated until recently by veterinarian Rex Rammell, has been home to a herd of hundreds of prized Rocky Mountain elk.
As raw milk demand increases, more and more dairies are creating cow and goat herd share arrangements to satisfy the demand.
William Malloy, 43, flew into a rage after an anonymous letter told him his wife Isobel - adistrict nurse - had been seeing neighbour Andrew Herd while he worked abroad.
Deff implementation of breeding technologies in recent years, combined with advances in nutrition and pasture management, has made Brazil home to the largest cattle herd on the planet and last year the world's leading exporter of beef.
FORMER Taoiseach Charles Haughey has flown sharpshooters onto his private island to kill off part of the red deer herd.
With numbers dwindling to around 34 animals, the South Selkirk mountain caribou herd is getting close to disappearing forever.