While driving in the country or through rural towns, you're bound to see something you don't see every day. That's because country folks do things a little bit differently than most city folk. Right off the bat, people notice the population is small. There are fewer businesses, and homes are usually a good distance away from one another.

There are also a lot of pastures for cattle and horse ranches. People passing through may encounter a peculiar phenomenon of cowboy boots hanging upside down on a fence post from one ranch to the next. Though this might strike some as a little odd, rest assured the boots are there for a reason.


According to Classroom.com, this tradition goes back many generations for most ranchers. Back in the day before telephones, boots on a fence meant the work day was over. The direction the boots pointed made a difference as well. For instance, if they were turned toward the property gate, it meant the rancher was home. Likewise, if they faced the other way, it meant they weren't home.

Over the last few decades, a pair of cowboy boots on the fence post has become a sign of solidarity for people, dogs, and horses. So, please do not touch or remove them. They look like decorations, but they are there as a way for ranchers to pay tribute to a family member or former ranch hand that passed away or moved.

Employees at a ranch usually live and work there for years. So, they become a part of the family in most cases. Whenever the ranch hand dies or moves away, it is customary to take a pair of the worker's boots and perch them on a fence post to pay respects to that person. The gesture is based on the adage “a pair of boots for every hand.”

Sometimes a pair of cowboy boots hanging on a post honors a rancher's favorite horse, the family dog, or herd dog. They will place the boots on the fence in the animal's memory or, in a horse's case, after it's sold. And there you have it! All the reasons why you may see cowboy boots hanging on a fence post.

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Gallery Credit: Sophia June