Hundreds of country roads and highways throughout Illinois. Wooden fences and barbed wire for miles. Sooner or later you'll see one of these special tributes.

Even if you've spent most of your life in the city, at some point you've driven past an old cowboy boot turned upside down on a fence post. Much like when you see just one shoe in the road, your brain starts creating a story to go with the lone footwear. However, there's a big difference between that random shoe, and the boot on the fence as you see in the picture below.

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What Does It Mean When You See a Cowboy Boot On a Fence Post?

I saw some boots on a fence near St. Charles, Illinois recently and it was the first time I remembered to search for what they mean. That boot is a tribute. Like the coins you may see on the top of a soldier's gravestone in a cemetery, that old boot is a tribute to a friend you lost.

The cowboy boot on the fence post is a tribute to a lost horse.

As the tradition goes, the bond formed between a rancher and the horse they're breaking is quite strong. The horse is being broken to prepare for the particular work that is required and often the horse becomes the rancher's daily workhorse. When that horse is sold or dies, the tradition calls for the rancher to sacrifice the pair of boots to put on the fence as a sign of respect.

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Turns out that there are many more interesting cowboy boot traditions. Find them all HERE.

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