Why you should never touch a cowboy boot left on a fence
This is interesting. I had no idea.
Luis Gaskell

A strange trend has caught people’s attention in country states. I’m not talking about steakhouses, daisy dukes, or country music. It’s something much less mainstream and conspicuous. In fact, it’s only beginning to be covered by writers and reporters.

In places like Texas and Nebraska, abandoned cowboy boots can be occasionally found adorning the posts of barbed wire fences.

The cowboy boot is perhaps one of the most Texan objects you could think of. So why are people leaving perfectly wearable pairs on the fences?

Well, we know some of the reasons. And it looks like there isn’t just one.

These boots appear to be memorials on the roadside for either a cowboy or his horse.

They may not be as pretty as a bouquet of flowers, or a wreath with notes on it. But it’s the sentiment behind them that counts and cowboy boots are a staple Texan item too.

Though no one is 100% sure how the practice started, or what it was originally meant to represent.

Some have jokingly said that they’re put there since their upside-down orientation means “a cowboy’s sole” can easily see where heaven is. That might not be the real reason, but at least it made you laugh.

If you take a look at Highway 49, which sits north of Placerville, you’ll find the same fences with cowboy boots on them.

Pexels - Brett Sayles
Pexels - Brett Sayles

This fence in particular boasts quite a lot, but it began as a memorial for Patty Navarro’s son, David.

David was a cowboy through and through. He was raised in the home of the cowboy, and he was “born with a pair of boots on” as his mother says.

YouTube screenshot - ABC10
YouTube screenshot - ABC10

He died in a car accident at the young age of 23, breaking his father’s heart who also died the day after from a heart attack.

David was just one of the countless cowboys across the rural United States that these boot-adorned fences are meant to honor. But this particular fence? He was the first cowboy to be memorialized here.

YouTube screenshot - ABC10
YouTube screenshot - ABC10

As hinted earlier, they could also be memorials for horses too.

It’s been suggested by more than a few sources that the boots on a barbed fence are horse memorials too.

Horses are gorgeous animals, and beloved by many cultures for good reason. The passing of a trusted steed and companion can hurt just like any death.

YouTube screenshot - Bas Masseus
YouTube screenshot - Bas Masseus

After all, a cowboy is nothing without his horse.

And so, it seems, the cowboy boots also honor those steeds who aren’t with us anymore.

Lastly, one other explanation that Texans have suggested is a lot less sentimental.

Perhaps the boots are also a way to let folks know that a cowboy isn’t home.

It definitely doesn’t make for as somber of a story as the other two explanations, I’ll admit. But simple explanations usually have the most truth to them. So you never know!

Whatever it may be, if you’re a resident of a rural state or just visiting, you probably shouldn’t touch the boots on the fence if you see them.

They could be a symbol of a beloved friend, brother, or son for all to see.

If you ever spot one of these fences, take a photo instead. Maybe say a prayer or two for whoever the boot might be for too.

Learn more about the Highway 49 boot fence in the video below.

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