Saturday, November 26, 2011


Chaps are a leg covering worn by cowboys to protect their legs when riding through brush, for warmth, and to get a better grip on the saddle. They are usually made of leather, the cowboy ones anyway, sometimes smooth finished, sometimes rough. Sometimes worn by non-cowboys as part of a costume, sometimes worn by motorcycle riders for basically the same reasons cowboys wear them. Cowboy chaps come in two main varieties—batwing and shotgun. Shotgun chaps are sort of like a stove pipe: they cover the legs all the way around and close by a zipper that runs the length of the leg. Both types are attached permanently to a belt from which the leg coverings hang. Batwing chaps are basically open on the back, closing at the back of the thigh with a couple of clasps. Batwings are cooler and are easier for the cowboy to move around in while wearing them. Occasionally you will see a pair of chaps with the wool or hair still on them-usually shotguns-more common in the northwest.The top photo is of new chaps hanging in a tack store.

Chaps for me were very utilitarian. Mine were rough leather, undyed, batwings. The photo above shows me cutting wearing these chaps. Very useful in rough, brushy country. Everything in the southwest has thorns or needles on it. One day I rode in some brush without chaps and came back with thorns buried on the inside of my legs at the knees. I think one of the thorns is still in there. Cowboys are slow learners, but I didn't make that mistake again. Anyway, after cowboying for awhile my chaps had a mixture of my sweat, horse sweat, cow sweat, cow blood, cow urine, cow poop, thorns, and whatever else I had come in contact with on them. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that Ralph Lauren was marketing a men's cologne called Chaps. $45 for 1.8, thank you very much.

Well I'm sorry but if I wandered into the house wearing my working boots and chaps I would be thrown out so fast it would make my head swim. Even if I left the boots outside. How do they make this stuff? Take old chaps and boil them down? Or do they make an alcohol extract of old chaps. Eau de chaps! Umm, boy, that must smell good! I wonder what odor extracts best—the urine, the sweat or the manure? Maybe the cow's blood. I can hardly wait to throw a little of this on me and slip up alongside my honey and give her a little peck on the cheek. I'd be taking my meals with the horses in the barn and sleeping in the hay for a week.


  1. This sounds like excellent fodder for a Saturday Night Live skit.

  2. Thanks. Good to hear from you again.