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Feathers on Cowboy Hats: 3 Reasons Behind It

Feathers on Cowboy Hats: 3 Reasons Behind It

There is one very interesting and conspicuous thing in cowboy hats that you can easily notice, that are feathers attached to them.

This was my favorite characteristic of cowboy hats when I was a kid. However, I’m still curious about the presence of leather there. Is there any meaning behind this?

Therefore, I have researched this issue and will bring you some hypotheses that I found after going around and asking many ranchers.

Let’s check it out!

Key Takeaways

  • The leather on the cowboy hat can be a cowboy’s declaration that he/she has just successfully ridden a bull
  • It was simply to break the monotony and add accents to the cowboy style of the past.
  • Either for no reason at all or simply because of being influenced by other cultures.

1. To announce a cowboy has successfully ridden a bull

In fact, when I was a kid wearing a cowboy hat with feathers attached to it, the older ranchers all looked at me and smile in a mysterious and amusing way.

I later learned that one of the reasons cowboys wore hats with feathers in the past was to show they had successfully ridden a bull. It’s a feat, and cowboys want others to know about it.

rancher is riding a bull

This action can be simply explained by culture and tradition, which can be formed accidentally or intentionally due to past habits.

2. For decoration purposes only

In the past, cowboys were actually dressed very simply, somewhat sloppy, and extremely distressed.

Because of the nature of the job, cowboys hardly really care what they wear. They only pay attention to the comfort, convenience and protection of the outfit to serve their jobs.

a rancher with cowboy hat looks at the cattle on the ranch

Therefore, there is a theory that cowboys attach a feather to the cowboy hat to add visual interest to it. They think this small action will avoid simplicity and create more accents for the outfit.

In the far west, colorful feathers (eagle feathers) are cheap or very easy to find!

3. For no reason or Being influenced by other cultures/beliefs

It is likely that a cowboy attached a feather to his hat just for fun and it accidentally became a “trend” in the past.

In fact, a lot of Texan people don’t really know the cause of this problem.

It also cannot be ruled out that this habit is formed under the influence of other cultures.

In many cultures, those who wear feathered hats are heroes or bold people. Or it is an expression of love as the leather is often placed on the left side just like the position of our heart.

a woman riding a horse wears cowboy hat with a feather on the left

In some places, hunters attach feathers to their hats for camouflage purposes.

In the days of free swordplay, if the feather was on the left or back of the hat, it meant allowing sword arm freedom.

All in all, cowboy hats are not the only hats with feathers attached to them, nor are they have the longest history.

It is possible to say that this action is influenced by other cultures or histories.

Before you leave

In general, after research, there is no real hypothesis that is certain.

It is gathered from many other cultures, plus past habits. From there, it create a new culture.

So I lean towards the causes #1 and #3.

How about you? What is your hypothesis?