A Cowboy’s Faith: Chaps are for protection – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Chaps are for protection

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Nowadays people in all sorts of endeavors wear chaps.”

While cowboys may have been the original chaps wearers, Native Americans known as Indians to some were likely predecessors.

What those first natives in the Flint Hills actually wore is typically referred as buckskins, strong semblance to chaps.

For those unknowing, best define chaps. Mr. Webster said, “Chaps are sturdy coverings for the legs consisting of leggings and a belt.”

With a prod from Mrs. Webster, he shyly went ahead to admit: “They are buckled on over jeans. But have no seat and are not joined at the crotch (oops).”

Furthering description: “Chaps are designed for leg protection and originally made with leather.”

The name is shortened version of the Spanish word chaparreras (this is spelled correctly even though the computer disagrees).

Bringing up insignificant point for topic at hand, the alma mater rodeo group was long known as the Chaps Club. Change came after a couple decades as seemingly outsiders, maybe even insiders, couldn’t comprehend correlation between chaps and the sport. So it became the K-State Rodeo Club.

Anyway, cowboys wear chaps to protect legs from environmental hazards working with cattle. They guard against scraping on brush and additional thorny vegetation.

Others wearing chaps today include farriers, feedlot yardmen, hay handlers, motorcycle riders, chainsaw operators, bullfighters, English equestrians, and more. All for protection of legs.

Must have been 56 years ago, the neighbor an early day cowboy then in his 70s still about five feet tall. Eddie Williams brought over his wooly chaps: “Here wear these in the parade.”

Too young and naive to understand and really appreciate the opportunity being given, the then 12-year-old took up the offer.

Doubtful if the parade crowd paid anymore acknowledgement to the legwear of the wannabe cowboy mounted on Spot. Yet looking back, riding Dad’s antique high back saddle, there was actually much heritage with the young rider.

Again to clarify: “Woolies” are a type of “hair on hide” chaps. There are variations but often Angora goat hides, obviously warm, originating around 1887. Early day rodeo pictures feature cowboys attired in woolies winning the bronc riding.

Not typically wearing chaps anymore ranch chaps, horseshow chaps and farrier chaps are hanging on the tack rack if needed.

Reminded of Isaiah 4:5: “They will serve as protection from the elements.”

030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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