There is no shortage of cowboy boots in South Dakota. But did you ever see a pair on a fencepost? If you do there is a meaning behind it.

We spend a lot of time snowmobiling and taking ATVs through South Dakota and we've seen plenty of cool sites. We've also seen cowboy boots upside down on a fencepost while cruising through pasturelands and the Black Hills. We didn't know this had meaning until recently.

You might see both boots or just one. It was once widely believed this a rancher's way of letting others know if they were home or not. But that doesn't seem to make much sense. It's hardly a thing you would want criminals to know. Nothing says help yourself to a chicken or two because we're not home.

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There's another legend that says the cowboy boots were meant for travelers who needed them to complete the journey. Or perhaps it's a way of marking territory. Perhaps the rivalry between "east river" ranchers and "west river" ranchers goes deeper than we thought and it's merely a way of marking territory.

All of these are possible reasons, but I like to believe it has a more sentimental reason: to honor cowboys who have gone before them. Perhaps they are grandpa's favorite boots, or in memory of a beloved cowboy, or even their favorite horse.

According to Classroom, "Ranchers hang their boots for their horses, their men and for the boots themselves. A rancher grows very attached to his boots. A good pair of boots can last three to five years, and a rancher wears that same pair every day. When the boots are worn out and past repair, ranchers will put them on the fence alongside all the other worn-out pairs."

I like that one.

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