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Cowboy Gear: Chaps

Leggin’s. Woolies. Batwings. Hair pants. Shotguns. Chinks are the shorter version.


Humans dress up but the cowboy dresses down.

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 sturdy coverings for legs, usually made of cow hide, have multiple uses, just like all of the gear used by cowboys and cowgirls. Chaps have no seat and are not join at the crotch.

  • 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 Bright is an author, blogger, and speaker. Her new book, MAVERICK HEART, will be out in January! Written with co-author Denise McAllister, the new WILD COW RANCH series will be available January 2021, a Christian Western Romance from CKN Christian Publishing. Book #1 MAVERICK HEART. Book #2 WILD COW WINTER. Book #3 FOLLOW A WILD HEART.

In May 2021, look for KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN‘ featuring authentic recipes from the cattle trail along with ranch photography and history of the great cattle driving era. Pre-order it now from TwoDot Books. For more information about her books: Amazon Author Page.

Detail of custom-made chaps by Preston Mease.