Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chaps! Leather leggings for cowboys.

The word chaps is a shortened version of chaparejos or chaparreras, Mexican or Spanish words for this garment, ultimately derived from Spanish chaparro. They are prounounced “Shaps” by western riders and “Chaps” by Eastern riders.

The earliest form of protective leather garment used by mounted riders who herded cattle in Spain and Mexico were called armas which meant shields.

Style variations adapted as vaqueros and later, cowboys, moved up from Mexico into the Pacific coast and northern Rockies of what today is the United States and Canada. Mountain men also copied them from leggings worn by Native Americans.

There are several variations:

Shotgun: As the name implies, straight legged.

Batwing: cut wide with a flare at the bottom.

Zamorros resemble batwing chaps, in that the leggings are closely fitted at the thigh and flare out below the knee, but unlike batwings, the leggings extend far below the boot with a distinctive triangular flare.

Chinks: half-length chaps that stop two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) below the knee, with very long fringe at the bottom and along the sides.

Armitas: short legging with completely closed legs that have to be put on in a manner similar to pants.

Woolies are a variation on shotgun chaps, made with fleece, angora or with hair-on cowhide, often lined with canvas on the inside.

Modern day cowboys still wear chaps to protect their legs from, livestock, weather and brush. The flashiest chaps will be seen in horse show rings and rodeo arenas. Farriers use them to protect their legs when shoeing a horse. Non-equestrian users include motorcycle riders, loggers and some are popular in BDSM culture.

Figure 1 My pop (L) wearing batwing style and his friend Jim (R) wearing chinks on a rainy day.

Figure 2 A friend wears chinks


 Falling in love with romance novels the summer before sixth grade, D’Ann Lindun never thought about writing one until many years later when she took a how-to class at her local college. She was hooked! She began writing and never looked back. Thirty-two manuscripts and numerous awards later, she is an Amazon bestseller! Romance appeals to D’Ann because there's just something so satisfying about writing a book guaranteed to have a happy ending. Her particular favorites usually feature cowboys and the women who love them.

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Krista said...

Great post D'Ann !! Love seeing cowboys in chaps but didn't really know there were different varieties :)

Jennifer Lowery said...

I had no idea! Learned something new today-and it involved my favorite writer and hot cowboys in chaps! Can't go wrong with that :) Great post, D!

Judy Baker said...

Interesting post. I wear the motorcycle "chaps".

vicki batman said...

I swear I live under a rock. In my head, I never noticed any differences. LOL. And another reason why I'm a city girl. LOLOL. Now, handbags....

Reggi Allder said...

Hi D'Ann,
Enjoyed your post! I knew about chaps but had no idea about the details. Thanks.

Sheri Fredricks said...

Excellent short info blog on the history and differences in chaps. My hubs has both batwing and a pair of shotgun chaps. The latter are the fancy fringed style he used for showing his horses. :)

Jacqueline Seewald said...


Very interesting information. I learned something today.

Ginger Jones Simpson said...

Love learning more about chaps. Thanks for sharing...nothing like a cowboy with leather leggins, I always say. :)


Melissa Keir said...

Loved the post. I didn't realize there were so many different Shaps!

Liz Flaherty said...

That's interesting! I'd never heard that about the pronunciation. Always good to see pics of your pop.

Liza O'Connor said...

Loved this. Yes, on the east we pronounce things differently. We're just different. And on a normal day I don't see a single person wearing any of thos 'shaps', nope, not a one. Are they protecting a pair of jeans that cost a lot less than they do? They just want to be fancy pants! Can't blame them there.