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What Does An Upside Down Cowboy Boot Mean?

What Does An Upside Down Cowboy Boot Mean?

If you’ve ever walked past the ranch in Texas, you’ll often see cowboy boots upside down and attached to the top of fence posts throughout the ranch.

Well, a lot of people think it’s a joke, others think it’s for the sake of beauty. It could be right somehow. But doing this actually has its meanings, both in spirit and in use.

Today, this article will shed some light on that! Let’s check it out!

 Why Are Cowboy Boots Hung Upside Down On Fence Posts?

There are many different theories about cowboy boots being turned upside down and attached to the top of fence posts all over Texas ranch.

There are also different stories about this, we have collected from different sources, and went to meet a few ranchers to find the answer. There were quite a few different results, but here are the most common answers:

To signal to guests whether the rancher is at home or going out

The most common answer about this is that ranchers will leave cowboy boots upside down on fence posts to signal people who come to find them.

a cowboy boot points towards the ranch gate means the rancher is at home

If a cowboy boot point towards the ranch gate, it means the rancher is at home.

But if it points the other way, then the rancher is going somewhere.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

To protect the top of fence posts

In the past, and sometimes even now, wooden fence posts with the tops were often unreinforced or very sketchy. Specifically, they are made of wood and are easily damaged by rainwater, snow, or bugs.

a cowboy boot is turned upside down to protect the top of a wooden fence post

Some ranchers place metal cans on top of fence posts to prevent that. Others, you know, put cowboy boots upside down to protect the top of the fence post from rain, snow, or destructive bugs.

Sounds very reasonable, right?

To prevent snakes, scorpions, or dangerous small animals from getting inside

In the past, cowboy boots were not as cherished as they are now. As for the ranchers, after work, they would throw their boots anywhere.

But that allows some animals to get into the boots, and it’s dangerous if they are snakes, centipedes or scorpions. To prevent that, ranchers turned their boots upside down and attached them to nearby fence posts.

I also really like this theory.

To dry cowboy boots

Some people like to dry their cowboy boots in the sun and natural wind on the ranch. That’s why they often hang cowboy boots on the fence post to do that. This ensures cowboy boots are free from mold or mildew caused by humid indoor or enclosed spaces.

In the past, fence posts were often made from wood, so they generally have the ability to absorb moisture inside cowboy boots and keep them from getting unpleasant smells.

Mental and spiritual factors

Not to mention that this action is quite spiritual. Cowboy boots are flipped upside down and hooked to the top of fence posts so their “souls” can reach the heavens.

When turned upside down, the cowboy boot has a sole, or “soul,” that points skyward, toward the heavens.

a cowboy boot with the sole is pointing skyward

If you’ve been a longtime cowboy boot lover, you’ve often heard the phrase “old boots got soul”. Well, if that’s the case, then this theory is interesting, isn’t it?

Another theory is to commemorate ranchers – deceased cowboys of the ranch. Those cowboy boots are theirs and hooking these boots upside down to the fence post is a way to remember and honor them.

I really like this idea, every time we look at an old item of the deceased, there is always an indescribable emotion welling up.

A pair of cowboy boots usually last a very long time, 5 to 10 years accompanying a cowboy are very normal numbers. One way or another, it’s worth keeping them in memory, isn’t it?

To clearly state ownership of land and farm

Well, in the past, the land was not as clear-cut and divided as it is today. Therefore, to own farms, sometimes you have to fight for them.

There is also a theory like this, the ranchers attached their cowboy boots to fence posts to mark their territory after a long time of exploring (or arguing with others).

cowboy boots are turned upside down and attached to fence posts to mark the territory ownership

For those who don’t know, the stitching on cowboy boots is the signature of the bootmakers and is owned by the bootmaker alone.

So, we can’t rule out the possibility that putting cowboy boots upside down on fence posts is a sign of our ancestors’ ranch ownership amid the dispute between East River and West River.

To keep the memory of a memento

Tell me, how do you feel when a pair of cowboy boots that have been with you for 5 or 7 years is no longer usable? Will you throw them away immediately?

I think most will not! Either way, you’ll be grateful for your cowboy boots serving you for over 10 years. And isn’t it a great thing to put them on the fence so that they can be seen every day as part of the farm?

The ranchers, too, will attach the cowboy boots that have followed them through the years on fence posts, one by one, as a way of remembering a bygone era.

As for turning them upside down, it’s easy, because doing so will make it easier for the boots to slide in and attach to the fence posts more tightly. That’s it!

Sometimes, just for beauty or to follow tradition

a cowboy boot is turned upside down on a wooden fence post

Who knows, one fine day, a cowboy was so free that he hooked his old boots upside down on the fence post. Then some other guys found it interesting and decided to do the same.

And ever since then, others found it interesting and followed suit, and it became a tradition.

Who knows, right?


In general, there are different theories as to whether the ranchers in Texas used to turn cowboy boots upside down and attach them to fences. But in general, I will summarize it as follows:

  • To signal guests if the owner of the farm is at home
  • To protect the top of fence posts from bugs, rain or snow
  • To dry cowboy boots
  • To prevent dangerous animals from entering the boots, causing danger to the wearer
  • To commemorate and honor the deceased, or to have the sole of the boot faced to the sky so that its “soul” can reach heaven.
  • As a way to keep and look at mementos
  • To mark territory ownership (in the past)
  • For the sake of beauty, or follow tradition

How about you? What else do you know? Please share with us in the comment!