To start the first day of vacation at the ranch, families gather at the barn, anxiously awaiting the assignment of their horse and the adventure of their first ride of the week. A simple trip down the ranch’s dirt road is the first outing with horse and saddle for some guests. This, our lesson ride, is when new riders learn to communicate with their horse and when they experience the first taste of the views.
During this ride, many guests notice the boots that sit upside down on fenceposts along the road.
“What is the story with the boots?” they ask.
Wranglers leading the ride might have one of countless true storied to explain the mystery.
“They’re just to honor the guests we’ve lost on the trail,” says one.
Another explains, “We keep the boots from all the folks that try to steal their horses when they left.”
“Those are Ken and Randy Sue’s old boots!” another laughs.
Before we get to the facts on the boots at Drowsy Water Ranch, you should know how this all got started:
Traditionally, cowboys (or cowgirls) placed boots on fenceposts to prevent animals from impaling themselves. We’ve yet to hear any verification that fencepost impalement really happened. This practice was probably created by some worrisome cowboy. His practice and reasoning behind the practice spread to the neighbors and, voila! a bonafide cowboy myth was born.
(By the way, the myth was later busted by a smart cowgirl that finally asked, “Did that ever really happen?” That’s usually how the world works with worrisome cowboys and smart cowgirls.)
At Drowsy Water Ranch, the truth about the boots is simple: each boot has its own story. For example, look closely and you might find a pair of pretty boots placed on a fencepost next to a hay meadow last summer. This particular pair has one of the best stories.
A loving grandmother shared the ranch with her family for several years. Together, her family had adventures, created memories, and grew closer during their annual ranch vacations. Sadly, the family returned without grandma for the first time last summer. Her family still laughed, still had adventures, and still felt close to her while at the ranch. The family found a way to honor their mother and grandmother; they found a way to allow part of her to always be in a place that brought her and her family happiness. Her boots, holding their shared memories, were placed on the fenceposts as the family left the ranch. And they’ll be here when they return for another week together, helping them all recall memories of their time together.
So while you’re on that first ride taking in the mountain scenes, the smell of the sage, the sound of the creek, and you notice all the boots, know that the story on the boots is simple: each boot has a story.