Why You Should Never Touch A Cowboy Boot Left On A Fence

Daniel Mitchell-Benoit
Cowboy boot on a barbed wire fence post.
Getty | James Pintar

When you're in an unfamiliar place, even if it's just outside the town you live in, there's a chance you'll encounter cultures and traditions you've never even heard of before.

There's a tradition practiced by a good number of rural Americans that those in cities have never heard of. Until you read up on what it means, here's a piece of advice, don't go around messing with boots you find on fences.

If you've ever been driving out somewhere rural, you may have noticed something odd.

Cowboy boot on a barbed wire fence post.
Getty | James Pintar

On the fences that line fields of crops or grass, you might have seen a cowboy book stuck upside down on a post. It's a curious sight, but did you know it has a deeper meaning?

A rather emotional one at that.

A brown horse.
Unsplash | Danny Gallegos

It's best that these boots remain untouched and undisturbed, as they were put there on purpose.

Why? Ranchers sometimes do this to honor a favorite horse that's passed. They'll sometimes do this by hanging a pair of boots off a fence as well.

Like we feel about our own pets, ranchers can have deep connections with their horses.

A light brown, dark brown, and white horse playing together in a field.
Unsplash | Annika Treial

Any horse owner could probably vouch for that too, they're just as much beloved family members as people feel about their dogs or cats, meaning when they pass, it's an emotional ordeal.

So some people will choose to give up a boot or two to pay tribute.

A rancher hard at work.
Unsplash | Jakob Rosen

There's also some cases where a boot on a fence represents a person, often a ranch hand who either passed or moved on to other work, referring the old saying "a pair of boots for every hand."

So if you ever spot one in the wild, it's best to leave it alone.

A shot of a horse's torso with someone sitting atop it, only their boot in the stirrup visible.
Unsplash | Markus Spiske

While it could be something innocent, there's a large chance at it being a memorial for someone, which means it deserves to be respected and left alone.

h/t: Johnjay & Rich