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Cowboy Gear: Chaps

Chinks. Leggin’s. Woolies. Batwings. Hair pants. Shotguns.


Humans dress up but the cowboy dresses down.


Detail of custom-made chaps by Preston Mease.


Short for chaparejos, the Spanish term for overalls or leather breeches, chaps are an important part of the cowboy’s wardrobe. Northern cowboys used angora or sheep pelts for warmth; “woolies”. Texas cowboys were identified as wearing the wider legs so they could be put on without removing spurs, called bat wings or buzzard wings. The plainer leather chaps with fringe were identified more with cowboys who worked in the Northwest; “shotguns”.



These hide pants have a multiple of uses, just like all of the gear used by cowboys and cowgirls.

  • shield from cactus

  • warmth from rain or snow

  • protect legs from mesquite bush thorns

  • protection from injury if he is thrown or pushed against a fence

When he dismounts, he hangs his chaps on the fence or loops them over the saddle horn.  They are too hot for ground work.


Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the RESCUE ANIMAL eBook series, soon to include two easy readers about rescue horses Flash and Taz. Read about Natalie’s grandmother and her cherry salad recipe, recently selected for “THE WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: Favorite Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Writing Wisdom” (TwoDot Publishing, June 2017). For more information about her books: Amazon Author Page.