If you've ever driven through the rural areas of Colorado, you may have come across ranches or farms that have a pair of cowboy boots resting upside down on top of a fence post. Sometimes, it's both boots, and other times, just one.

Residents who place cowboy boots on fence posts aren't just decorating with a western theme in mind; there's actually a meaning behind it.

According to Classroom.com, there are actually several reasons why this may be done.

One explanation for a rancher hanging a pair of boots on the fence is to honor their bond with a horse on their farm. It's no easy feat to train a horse, and many ranchers have a deep relationship with these animals after breaking them in. If the horse is sold or dies later in life, a cowboy will often sacrifice a pair of boots to the fence to pay respect to their beloved equine.

Phinehas Adams/Unsplash
Phinehas Adams/Unsplash

Another reason boots may be seen hanging on a fence is to honor a hired hand who has worked on the farm. The idea stems from "a pair of boots for every hand." Many ranchers invite workers to live with them on the property and help out in exchange for food, housing, and a small stipend. Once the helper moves on from the farm or sadly passes away, the ranch owner will put boots on the fence in their memory. In this scenario, it's usually a pair of the employee's boots placed on the fence.

Although it's probably not the brightest idea these days, in former times, boots on a fence meant that the workday was over and the farmer was back home. When the shoes pointed toward the ranch gate, it symbolized that the rancher was home. If they were facing the other way, it meant the rancher was out. This was in the days before electricity and telephones existed, so it was an easy way to let visitors know when they could stop by.

The tradition of boot hanging has been passed down for generations. Cowboys have a special attachment to their boots, and once they become too worn for wear, they often end up on a fence post.

It's common to see cowboy boots on fence posts in other parts of the country as well. The western tradition holds the same meaning from state to state.

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