Most people in the United States are familiar with the so-called “Cowboy Boot”: pointed toe, high heel, and tall top. Ralph Moody talks about getting his first pair of these “Spanish” boots somewhere along 1910. George Leonard Herter referred to them in his “Expedition Outfitter” catalogue of 1970 as “Spanish dancing boots”.
I still cling to the old-style tall boots with leather soles, pegged steel arches, and high heels, although most folks in the horse industry have gone to a shorter style with low heels and flat, soft soles. The difference is in the style of riding. I like the old thin ox-bow stirrups, and I drive my feet “home” until the stirrups lie deep in my arches, up against the high heels. Show riders seem to ride with their feet a polite distance into the stirrups, with their weight on the ball of the foot.
But today I was back to ‘overshoe stirrups’. These are made larger than traditional stirrups to accommodate .... overshoes. In fact they are on my saddle for at least half the year. In the winter I ride with a style of felt-lined pacs, which need more room than my “summer” stirrups provide.
Obviously I was wearing overshoes today, and I was wearing my bib overalls also. The same ones I just washed and put away last week. It was cool and showery and I had to ride.
I was working in the shop when a neighbor pulled in to ask if I was missing a bull. He pointed to a black dot on the hillside across the way in one of his alfalfa fields. He speculated that one of my bulls had been out on the road and someone had done me the favor of running him in the next open gate, which happened to be the neighbor’s hayfield.
This was troubling on two counts: 1) the bulls need to be with the cows doing what bulls are raised to do, and 2) young wet alfalfa is the best way there is to bloat – and kill – livestock.
So I changed into riding boots, donned overshoes and a raincoat, caught a horse, and trotted off across the countryside. When I arrived I determined that it was one of his own bulls that he had seen, not mine. But I put him back across the fence with his own cows while I was there, then made a circle of that field to be sure I didn’t have another bull out.
That was a refreshing interlude, then I was back to working on equipment in the shop.