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BOOTS - by Steve Moreland - January 1, 2020

Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:00 pm
by Soapweed
By Steve Moreland – January 1, 2020


As the song goes, “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.” Ever since I was a wee small lad, this saying has held true. With cowboys come boots and hats, and no matter how good of a hand they might be, other forms of footwear and headwear just don’t ring true.

As a child I was lucky to have something to wear on my feet at all, and my earliest recollections are of wearing shoes with laces. I wanted boots, and eventually my parents saw to it that this goal was achieved. They also gave me a little red wool felt cowboy hat, with lace around the brim and a stampede string. It was quite pliable and shapeless, and lasted me for several years.

Having always been somewhat of an “odd duck,” I chose to wear boots and a hat to school nearly every day of my scholastic career, from Kindergarten through grade school, junior high, high school in both Merriman and Gordon, and one year of college at Chadron State. Somehow I just didn’t feel right if not wearing boots and a hat. The only exceptions were the cold days. My little kid overshoes wouldn’t fit over cowboy boots, so I had to wear shoes to make them work. If earflaps were necessary, so was a cap that was so equipped.

On one occasion when I was a first-grader in Merriman, a fire drill was part of our training. As we marched down the hallway to the front door, in an orderly procession, I stepped out of line by six or eight feet to grab my little red wool felt cowboy hat off the top of the cloak rack. This didn’t go over too big with my teacher Miss Sheer, and I don’t think she even let me carry it out of the building. She wanted to instill in me that saving my own life was more important than salvaging a material object, especially an object made out of as poor of material as the little red hat.

As long as I was wearing boots, my outlook on life was fairly positive. If I had to wear shoes, my countenance and demeanor felt like a second-rate citizen. As long as my dad wore cowboy boots, he was my hero. When he wore shoes for any reason, I didn’t respect him quite as much. Back in those days, men and boys wore suits and ties when attending church. Western-style suits weren’t really in vogue at the time, so sometimes Dad would wear dress-up shoes when wearing a suit to church. This embarrassed me, especially if some of the other kid’s dads wore boots to church. As earlier stated, I was odd. The worst of it is, I still am. When dress-up suits were available with Western styling and yokes over the shoulders, and Dad wore them along with his boots, he was once again my hero.

As a youth, I only had one pair of boots at any given time. If they needed new soles and heels, I had to wear shoes until they were fixed. This could be an awful long week or two, depending on how long it took a boot repairman to fix my footwear.

My only pair of boots were worn for work and to school, and to anywhere else I went. One of my obligations was to milk at least one cow each evening. Dad usually did the milking in the morning. Milking the cow was accomplished while balancing on a one-legged T-shaped wooden stool with the milk bucket clenched between my knees. It was “illegal” (by Dad’s standards) to set the bucket on the ground, because it could never be rescued quickly enough if the cow moved her feet. Always a certain amount of the white liquid would stain your footwear. Each evening I had to scrape the residue off my boots, wipe them with a damp cloth, polish them, and get them presentable for school the next day.

One spring my only pair of boots were getting in pretty sad shape. On a Saturday afternoon our family traveled to Gordon, hoping the stores would still be open so I could shop for some new boots. By the time we arrived, the stores were closed, but we attended Gordon’s annual Town and Country Day celebration. This always drew a large crowd, and offered a nice pancake supper sponsored by local merchants. Each year after supper there was a program that honored one ranch family, one farm family, and one local business. A special guest speaker, music or some other form of entertainment would follow. It was always a fun event that signified the end of winter and calving, and the beginning of spring and nicer weather. Charlie Saub, proprietor of Saub’s Department Store, was at the supper. Dad approached him and said, “Charlie, if you wouldn’t mind opening your store for a few minutes, I’ll bet you could sell this young man a pair of boots.” Charlie was a fine friendly merchant, and was only too happy to oblige. I was delighted to get a new pair of boots.

On another occasion the stocker-feeder calf show was going on in Valentine. As a 4-H member, I was in town showing a couple Hereford club calves. As I was in need of a pair of boots, Dad took me to Young’s Western Wear to check their selection. They were a much smaller store in those days, and there were only a few pairs of boots that were my size. In those days, kid’s boots were mainly of two brands—Acme, which were the least quality and cheapest in price, and Texas, which were slightly better and in the mid-price range. There was a pair of tan-colored fairly mundane-looking Texas boots that were priced at eleven dollars. There was also a pair of classier Cowtown boots with a higher top that I really fancied. They were priced at sixteen dollars, and I wanted them in the worst way. Dad was always of a frugal nature and economy-minded. He was going to pay for my boots, and he thought the eleven dollar tan boots would be just right. Finally he said he’d pay eleven dollars and I could scrounge up the other five dollars myself if I wanted the prettier pair. Frugality was also in my genetics, so I decided I couldn’t afford the five dollars and went with the tan boots. That was a decision I always regretted. It’s amazing how long a pair of boots will last when you don’t really like them.

About the time I graduated from high school, I owned a pair of latigo-hide work boots with neoprene soles. They were bought from necessity at a time when my demand was high and supply was very limited. They were excruciatingly durable, and wouldn’t wear out no matter how hard I was on them. One time I jumped off the running board of the hayfield pickup. The heel of one boot caught underneath where the stock rack stakes went in, and ripped clear off. I should have been sad that the boot was wrecked, but I wasn’t. I’d wanted to throw those boots away for quite some time, and justifiable opportunity had presented itself.


After graduating from high school in 1970, I had a job as wrangler on a guest ranch in Jackson Hole for the summer. My parents, sisters, and my grandmother from Minnesota drove out to Wyoming in the family car at the same time as I traveled in the “new-to-me” 1964 Chevrolet Impala convertible. We drove to Cody, Wyoming the first day, spent the night there, and went through Yellowstone Park the next day on the way for me to report in at Moose Head Ranch. In Cody, I hit all four western stores looking for a new pair of boots. My expectations and standards were more stringent than they’d ever been before. I wanted boots with a high top and high riding heel. There were none to be found in that town, and they were hard to find anywhere in those days. As Dad and I were shopping for boots of this nature, one merchant declared, “What you are looking for are antiques.” He may have been right. I was actually ahead of my time, because boots of this nature became quite popular in the next few years.

I loved my summer job as a dude wrangler. One evening after work, three other members of the crew and I went in to explore the town of Jackson. While walking down the boardwalk, a boot shop caught my eye. In checking out their selection, a pair of Sanders brand boots were available that matched all my requirements. They had a sixteen-inch top, two-inch riding heels, and an “old-timey” square toe (much narrower than the square boot toe of today). These Sanders boots had a light tan top, a brown vamp, and black leather soles and heels. I really wanted the boots but didn’t know how much money was in my checking account back in Nebraska. I talked the merchant into holding these boots for me until the next week, which he obligingly did. Calling home the next day, I had my folks make sure there was at least 55 dollars in my checking account to cover the cost of the new boots. This was quite a lot of money considering my wages were 150 dollars per month plus room and board. I loved the boots, and what the heck, “You are only young once!”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Moose Head Ranch to be exact, I immediately broke in my new boots. I’d never done it before, but for the rest of the summer I tucked my Levis into those high-topped boots. Two or three times each day, I’d have to take the boots off to dump out twigs and pine needles that tended to accumulate down around my socks. When it would rain, the water would run right down my pant legs and get my feet wet. Oh well, it was a small price to pay to try to look glamorous.

Back home in Nebraska, I had a broncy five-year-old horse that had rested all summer while I’d been playing cowboy on the dude ranch. The first day back home, I still had my breeches tucked into the high-topped Sanders boots. I saddled Corky in the barn, led him out into the corral, and eased upon his back. Immediately he broke in two and bucked around the corral. There were some significant tree branches that hung over the south end of this big corral. Corky bucked under them, and I was scraped off of his back. As I hit the ground landing “face-up,” I watched his hind hoof come down and graze my cheek (the one on the right side of my face). He darn near got me, and the cockiness went right out of my ego. I thought, maybe I’m not such a hot cowboy after all. At that moment I took my pant legs out of my boot tops and put them down over the top where they probably belonged. As my dear old dad had proclaimed many years before, “If you tuck your pants into your boot-tops, you need to be a really good cowboy or else you just come across as a dude.” Point taken.

There was another saying that was popular at the time: “You need to own fifty cows before you can tuck your pants into your boots.” I only had a very few cows then, so didn’t qualify in that regard either. Sometimes you would see an old cowhand wandering around with one pant leg tucked in and the other one over the top of their other boot. This usually happened on boots with shorter tops, but it always presented a thought that maybe they only owned 25 cows.

Dad tells of the time when he was courting his wife-to-be from Minnesota. She had a couple cute cousins who were available, so Dad took Bruce Weber and Bill Gaskins with him on the 480-mile trip to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” to check out the ladies. They stopped to do a little shopping in Pierre, South Dakota. Bruce went to several men’s stores asking if they had any “sock-holders.” None of the sales-people seemed to know what he was talking about. Finally in one store, the proprietor asked Bruce for a little more detail of what he needed. Bruce said, “You know, sock-holders, they keep your socks from falling down.” The clerk made a wild guess, “You mean garters?” “Yes,” said Bruce, “That’s probably what I need.” The three wild young cowboys also each bought a new pair of boots while they were in the cow-town of Pierre. They were feeling frisky when they stopped for supper in Watertown, and all tucked their breeches into their new boots. As they sauntered in and sat down at a table, they noticed a couple old farmers sitting across from each other in a distant booth. In a quite audible stage-whisper, one farmer said to the other, “I’ll bet those guys have never been on a horse.” Dad laughed many times through the years telling that story.


In the fall of 1970, I enrolled at Chadron State College majoring in business. Frank and Jerene O’Rourke lived out south of town on their little ranch, the “Ru-Jo-Den,” named after their kids Ruth, Joe, and Dennis. I knew Frank and Jerene because they were the founders of the Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Association headquartered in Gordon. Frank allowed me to keep a couple horse out at his ranch for a couple months that fall. Butch Abold had put thirty days riding on a roan mare for my dad, Bob Moreland, and the same for a bay gelding belonging to dad’s brother, Stan Moreland. Frank charged $10 per month per horse for grass. Uncle Stan paid the pasture bill, and I put quite a few miles on his bay and Dad’s roan. It was fun exploring the cliffs and tree-covered high hills in the area.

I was a member of the CSC rodeo club during the 1970-1971 term. One of their fund raising activities was a raffle for a pair of boots. Being one of the last ones to buy a ticket before the drawing, and evidently because the tickets didn’t get stirred up very well, I happened to win the boots. The winner could pick any boots from Gimpel’s Western Store on Main Street in Chadron. Once again I was looking for high topped high-heeled “buckaroo-style” boots. Gimpels handled the Sanders brand, and they were going to be getting in some boots that Mrs. Gimpel thought would fit my desire. I waited a couple months before she told me the new shipment had arrived. The ones I ended up with had cream-colored soft leather vamps and maroon tops, and had a two inch riding heel. I was pleased with the boots won from the raffle, and wore them sometimes during college classes. One day I was strolling across campus and stopped to visit with an acquaintance. He asked, “Do your feet hurt?” “No,” I responded. “What makes you ask?” He then went on to say that it looked like I had two casts on my feet like I had two broken legs. Hate to say it, but I never wore that pair of boots ever again. They were traded off to someone, though now I can’t remember who.

Several times through the years I sent for the Paul Bond boot catalog from Nogales, Arizona. It was easy to drool over about any of Paul Bond’s boots, because they were top-of-the-line, hand-made, and any cowboy’s dream. John Fairhead, my second cousin who is my age, had measured his feet and sent for some Paul Bond boots when we were still in high school. They had black wax French calf vamps and red kangaroo tops, and a two-and-a-half inch riding heel. An option which John acquired was to get a horseshoe-shaped piece of steel attached to keep the bottom of the heel from wearing out. Full length black mule ear pulls also adorned the tall red tops, but John altered them so they were shorter and less in his way. The vamp bottoms were super tough, and the tops were super soft, which was maybe not the ideal combination. I think John paid about seventy five or eighty dollars when he measured his feet and ordered them. He wore them for a few years, but since his feet and mine are the same size, he offered them for sale. I traded thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents, plus four square feet of latigo hide to acquire these boots. They lasted me for several more years, and I had half soles and new heel caps put on three or four times. The last I knew of these boots, they were adorning the tops of adjoining fence posts along the road leading to my cousin Ken Moreland’s Twisted Pine Ranch.

Carol McCrory and I got married in June of 1979. A couple years after that I got ultra-light airplane fever, and wanted to acquire one in the worst way. I tried out a Weedhopper brand air machine at the Rushville Airport one time. Roger Cerny from Chadron had a dealership on them. I signed a paper that if I wrecked anything I’d pay for it. Before my trial run was over that day, I got up about housetop high in the air, but came down hard enough to break the propeller and bend the framework rather badly. Roger thought $200 would cover the damage, so I wrote him a check for that amount and gave up on the idea of flying an ultralight. These contraptions are known as “widow-makers” for very good reason, and even the man in Utah who invented the Weedhopper perished in an ultra-light airplane wreck.

Since I had sworn off trying to fly a lawn mower with wings, when the next Christmas rolled around, a nice gift certificate for a pair of Paul Bond boots was under the tree. This was a gift from my dear wife, and I was pretty excited to measure my feet and send in the order. I decided to include a brand on the top of each boot. Since our Spearhead brand is a modified arrow pointing to the left, and not symmetrical, I decided to have my old Rafter M brand implicated into the design on each boot. My dad had that brand on the left hip, and I had it on the left rib.

Within a few months the Paul Bond boots were delivered. They were and still are beautiful well-made boots, but I had measured the calves of my legs too tightly and the tops fit too snug because of this. I also ordered the third highest heels, and wish I’d ordered the second highest ones. Consequently I’ve never worn the boots too much.

Carol and I were ranching about 20 miles south of Merriman from 1979 until 1986. Her step-dad and mother, Royal and Jean McGaughey, were still living on their ranch south of Eli at the time. They had about 30 cows and a few horses, including a team of Belgian mares that raised colts every year. In 1985, they had three young draft horses for sale. Carol’s brother, John McCrory, was married to Rhonda Runner. Rhonda’s dad, Jack Runner, was managing the TA Ranch near Elk Mountain and Saratoga in Wyoming. It was a large ranch, and several cowboys fed hay each day with a team and a “stone-boat” that carried big square bales. Royal made connections with Jack Runner and sold these three young draft horses to the TA Ranch.

Carol and I went to Royal and Jean’s ranch for Thanksgiving that year. Steve Loop, a young cowboy from the TA Ranch came that day to pick up the new horses. He brought along his girlfriend, Carla Mashino. Carla was originally from Spencer, Nebraska but was then attending Nebraska Technical College of Agriculture in Curtis. I recognized her last name, and it turned out her uncle Charley Mashino had worked on the ranch of our neighbor Ronald Snyder when I was a kid in the 1960’s. Charley played the part of Santa Claus for my 4th grade country school Christmas program. He wore a red Santa Claus hat and big white beard, but was “cowboy” from the neck down with a green parka, brown leather chaps, and black boots. This “cowboy Santa” had a gunny sack filled with candy over his shoulder. After the program (which was in my parents’ house), he rang the doorbell and made a grand entrance. He passed out sacks of candy and sashayed back out the door, hollering, “Merry Christmas! Ho, ho, ho!” as he vanished into the night. Ronald Snyder followed him into the entry way, grabbed his 30-30 which he had brought along, and fired a couple times into the air. “I got him!” he exclaimed as he came back in the house. The grown-ups laughed; the little kids cried; and I just observed and smiled.

Back to Steve Loop and Carla Mashino coming after the horses—the first thing I noticed about Steve was his fine-looking high blue-topped boots, with his pants tucked inside. I knew right away they were Wilson boots, because I’d drooled over the Wilson advertisement in the Western Horseman magazine. There was a foot of snow on the ground, and I had “farmered-up” and put on my overshoes. Steve was wearing his handsome boots uncluttered, cowboy-style, for all the world to see. I was impressed. We all sat down to a fine Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Carol’s mother, and then went to load the horses. Steve and Carla had a lot of miles to cover to get the horses hauled to Saratoga. The minute Carol and I got back home that evening, I wrote a letter to the Wilson Boot Company in Livingston, Montana, requesting their current catalog.

The same day the catalog arrived in our mail box, I measured my feet, and sent for a pair with the same pretty blue tops like the ones Steve Loop was wearing. When the boots arrived a couple months later, I was not disappointed. I have worn Wilson boots ever since, although not exclusively.

I pretty much wore out three or four pairs of Wilson boots in the next few years. Fast forward to 1999. The prestigious McGinley Ranch had sold to Ted Turner. A large ranch machinery and equipment auction was to take place at the McGinley Ranch, and the whole countryside turned out for the event. While wandering around in the crowd, I spotted Steve Loop, Charley Mashino, and Charley’s brother Cecil, who was Steve Loop’s father-in-law. We had a lot of “catching up” to do, and enjoyed our visit. As usual at the time, I was wearing a pair of Wilson boots. I commented to Steve that he was the one who got me hooked on Wilson’s. He said, “I still have that pair, but they don’t fit very well anymore. What size do you wear?” I answered, “Size 9 and a half.” He said, “That’s what size they are. Do you want to buy them?” “You bet!” I said. He also had another pair that were too tight around the top, and they were for sale. I dealt for both pairs, and made arrangements to pick them up. By then Steve and Carla were living in Chadron, so it was not too hard to make connections to get the boots. I wore both pairs for several years, and put new soles and heels on each at least a couple times. I still have the blue-topped boots, but did have to have a leather worker add some wing-tips to each boot because there were cracks along the side. Possibly this was because Steve wore them too much out in the snow without protecting them with overshoes, but that is a thought that just came to me as I am writing this.


In June of 1996, an older friend passed away. On the day of his funeral, there was also a horse sale that I wanted to attend. Even though my conscience bothered me, I ended up going to the horse sale. We had raised an Appaloosa colt who was then a year old and in need of an alteration, so I ended up leaving him with a veterinarian before going to the horse sale. There was only one horse that I bid on that day, and he was a well-made white-with-black-spots Appaloosa four-year-old gelding. My last bid was $850, but the man who rode the horse into the ring didn’t sell because he wanted $1200. That was fine with me as I didn’t need the horse anyway.

I was sitting on the bottom row at the sale, and a man who sat next to me asked, “Are those Wilson boots?” I replied that they were. He said, “I have some new Wilson boots, but they are too heavy for me.” They turned out to be size 9 ½, which is my size. I asked if they were for sale. The man introduced himself, and said he’d like to trade them for a pistol as he was “having trouble with a neighbor.” Fortunately I didn’t have any pistols to trade, but we arrived at a price and I agreed to buy the boots. We decided to meet in Martin in a few days to consummate the deal. As we sat visiting on the bottom row, the sale got over. We were the last two by the ring, except for an attractive young lady with her arm in a sling. She came over to where we were sitting, and asked, “Are you the one who was bidding on our Appaloosa horse?” I said that I was. She said, “You should buy him; he’s really a good horse.” I asked, “How did you hurt your arm?” She replied, “In a horse wreck.” “This horse?” I asked. “No, a different one,” she responded.

I bade adios to the seller of the boots, and followed the lady to meet her husband. I told the man that I’d trade a freshly castrated Appaloosa and some additional money for his horse. He said he would check out my trading stock, so got in my pickup with me, and we drove to the vet clinic. Of course, my horse couldn’t have looked worse. He was still woozy from anesthetic, and was dirty from lying on the ground. The man decided he’d rather trade for a young horse he could start riding right away, and turn his money quicker.

We got back to the sale barn. He had already paid his “no sale” fee, and was cleared to load out his horse. He finally accepted my $1100 offer, so we now loaded the horse on my trailer. As I was writing him a check on the hood of my pickup, we “got caught.” We had both neglected to think about the commission we should have paid, and it was somewhat bluntly requested that neither of us come back to the sale barn ever again. I did pay the full commission, and felt very badly for what had happened. The only thing we really did wrong was being in plain sight doing what we did. Had we made our transaction anywhere else, there would have been no wrong-doing. Later I did appeal the decision and request to be reinstated, promising to try my best “to keep my nose clean” if I could come back. We are now good friends again, as before, but I did learn a valuable lesson. Sometimes it might be more honorable to go to a friend’s funeral than to go to a horse sale.

Postscript on the Appaloosa horse that I bought that day. He was traded to Mike Witt, who was managing the Bowring Ranch at the time. Mike’s daughter Theresa called the horse “Tennessee.” She enjoyed riding him for many years, and won a Grand Champion trophy with him in a showmanship class at the Gordon Fair. Eventually the horse was sold to Fort Robinson, where he was ridden on trail rides. Tennessee just died last winter at the age of 27.

A few days later, I took possession of the barely broken-in Wilson boots. They had dark brown vamps and 16-inch yellow tops, and I wore them with pride.

There was a western store in Hot Springs, South Dakota that sold Wilson boots for many years. They were not made to order, but had regular shelf sizes. I bought at least two pairs there at different times. One pair had red tops and black vamps, and they served me well. Another time there was a pair of Wilson latigo work boots, with matching tan tops and vamps. They fit fine, but looked a bit ordinary. I asked the clerks if there was any way they could dye the bottoms black. They assured me they could, and to come back in a couple hours when the dye would be dry. They did a nice job, and it made a world of difference in the appearance of the boots. The clerk said if they’d done that a few months before, they could have sold them easily. I wore them for a long time, and the dye stayed on very well.

Wilson boots are great, and I’ve also had good service from Honcho brand regular sized “shelf” boots. In my older stove-up condition, I should wear soft light-weight shoes, but boots are still my favorite. The ranching world seems to use Muck boots and snow packs for wintertime use, but my preference is boots and rubber high-topped lace-up overshoes. My feet stay just as warm or warmer with this combination as with anything else. When you arrive in town, the overshoes can come off, and you can go about your business feeling confident wearing just boots.

As long as there are cattle, there will be cowboys. As long as there are cowboys, there will be boots. They all go together like beef, biscuits, and beans.

Re: BOOTS - by Steve Moreland - January 1, 2020

Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:03 am
by Big Muddy rancher
Really enjoyed your story, Boots have a special place in the hearts of many cowboys.

My Dad was a Tony Lama man, Had a picture of his Buck stitched boots on the front page of the Western Produce comparing them to a pair of Oxfords worn by the President of the Wheat Pool.
Dad had such an affinity for his boot he requested his ashes get put in a favorite pair of Tony Lama's when we buried him this spring.

Re: BOOTS - by Steve Moreland - January 1, 2020

Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:40 am
by Soapweed
Big Muddy rancher wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:03 am
Really enjoyed your story, Boots have a special place in the hearts of many cowboys.

My Dad was a Tony Lama man, Had a picture of his Buck stitched boots on the front page of the Western Produce comparing them to a pair of Oxfords worn by the President of the Wheat Pool.
Dad had such an affinity for his boot he requested his ashes get put in a favorite pair of Tony Lama's when we buried him this spring.
Nice that your dad got to be buried in his boots. It's every cowboy's desire to "die with their boots on," and your dad took it one "step" further. Good for him, and for all of you who honored his request.

A few months ago I was sitting at the sale barn with an old friend, who has been a cowboy and rancher all his life. In our conversation he lamented that he needed a new hat, but hesitated in buying one because they were so expensive. I told him he was looking at it all wrong. I explained that he can’t take any money with him on the final ride, and that he couldn’t hook a U-Haul to the hearse. There would also not be any stock trailers following behind, with favorite critters along. Then I said, “But you can take along a hat. They can lay it on top of your chest in the coffin, and it can go with you on the final ride. Go ahead, buy yourself a new hat.”

I saw this gentleman not too long ago at the sale barn. He said he had bought a new hat, and it cost more than what he had paid in the past for a good horse. At least now he can go out it style!

Re: BOOTS - by Steve Moreland - January 1, 2020

Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:18 pm
by Big Muddy rancher
Style is important......

Re: BOOTS - by Steve Moreland - January 1, 2020

Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 5:32 pm
by Soapweed
Big Muddy rancher wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:18 pm
Style is important......

Re: BOOTS - by Steve Moreland - January 1, 2020

Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:33 am
by leanin' H
Really enjoyed that read sir. A good pair of boots just makes a feller feel better about life each day. I tried out for football back in high school and didn't make the team.I wasn't fast enough. But when an assistant coach saw me at a rodeo he joked i was faster in cowboy boots than cleats. I was always taught to not judge a book by its cover when it came to sizing up people. But i must admit that a quick peek at their foot wear still happens. Not to say all cowboy boot wearers are top notch, but its a good place to start a first impression. Thanks Soap.