Jeans were invented by Levi Strauss (not a Texan). They were adopted by cowboys
with a couple of modifications. Original jeans had rivets at all the stress points. The rivets in the back pockets
were removed to prevent damage to the saddle. Those same rivets are hell on the hood of your pick-up too. The
crotch rivet was removed as a result of discomfort while squatting near a campfire.
Wranglers are not made in Texas, but are the choice of most rodeo cowboys.
Chaps or leggings are worn to protect the cowboys' legs from brush, rain and cold. Chaps are still used for their intended
purpose by rodeo cowboys and in heavy brush on the range.
Western hats are one of the unique trademarks of the cowboy. Hats of felt are worn in cold weather and straw hats
are worn in hot weather. The important parts of a cowboy hat are the brim, crown, and crease. Felt is the material
of choice for a cowboy hat for good reason. Felt is matted fur. Because it is matted, and the hairs run in all
directions interlocking with each other, felt is stronger and lighter than woven materials. A water resistant fur/felt
is desirable to help the hat hold its shape and shed water. Beaver, neutrea or muskrat are the best and most expensive
fur / felts. Rabbit, or a combination of rabbit with one of the other felts, is most common. Wool felt will not
hold its shape. Nothing looks worse than a droopy cowboy hat. Felt hats are made of rabbit and beaver hair. A
5X hat is all rabbit, a 10X hat is 50% rabbit and 50% beaver, and a 100X hat is 100% beaver. A working cowboy would
typically purchase a 10X hat for $165 to $240. A 5X hat would retail for $100 to $150, and a 100X hat starts at $750.
The modern day cowboy boot evolved from the utility boot designed
to fit the stirrup of a saddle. As a result, there are boots made for riding, rodeo-ing, and walking.
You should base your selection on the intended use. Two inch riding heels don't make good walking boots.
All boots should have a steel shank with wooden pegs for arch support. You should also look for leather lining and good
should have an underslung heel tall enough to grip the saddle stirrup. Riding boots also come with a narrow toe to guide
the boot easily into the stirrup without effort. Boots are one of the most comfortable shoes you can wear if they fit
right. You shouldn't have to break in boots, they should be comfortable the first time you put them on.
The heel should slip slightly when you walk. A long narrow fit is better than a too short wide fit. Get a custom
made pair if you can afford them. The stitching on the boot top originally served to hold the multi layers of leather
together without sagging. The more rows of stitching the more expensive the boot. A work boot might have four
rows of stitching and a dress boot will have six to eight rows of stitching. Inlays and overlays of leather shapes are
found on a Hollywood type boot.
A custom boot fitting will run $200.00 and the boots are an additional $4,500.00 on up. Decisions to be made include
toe shape, ear pulls, heel size, and shape and type of leather. Expect six to eight weeks or more for delivery.
A saddle should
be selected for its intended use, pleasure riding, roping, show, bronc riding or barrel racing. Unless you are an expert,
the best approach is to deal with a reputable saddle dealer or saddle maker. A saddle should be selected to fit your
seat and, just as important, the horse. Take your horse saddle shopping with you if you can. A saddle should never
touch the horse's spine or put undue pressure on the withers. The bars of the saddle tree should lay flat on the horses
back, just behind the shoulder blades. The gullet should clear the horses back by one inch when the rider is mounted.