What style of Chap is right for you?
Every cowgirl invests in at least one pair of chaps and possibly several pairs. As a practical piece of apparel, it was and still is an invaluable piece of riding gear.
There are many kinds designed for a variety of purposes and what works for one cowgirl may not suit another. Although they all have two things in common, they help the rider stay in the saddle and protect the rider's legs. They are most commonly made of cow hide, but can be made of elk, deer, or man made materials such as ultra-suede. They come in different textures and weights. Top grain and split leather are the two most common-types of leather. Top or full grain leather is the top of the hide without the hair, it is the smooth side and the best cut of leather. Most cow hide is 1/4 inch thick and can be split into various thickness, hence the term 'split leather'. Leather comes in various weights, being measured in ounces and refers to the thickness of the hide. Four to five ounce leather is obviously heavier than two to three ounce leather. Most work chaps are 5 to 6 ounce leather, rodeo are 3 - 3 1/2 ounce leather and show 2 - 2 1/2 ounce leather. A lighter weight leather does not mean that it is of lesser quality, though, It is just that lightweight leather for a show ring rider would not have to take the same punishment that the working variety would endure.
Shotgun Chaps typically worn by show ring competitors (except cutters). These fit snugly and closing around the legs, usually by a zipper. The shape is relatively straight from top to bottom, so called shotgun because they resemble the barrels of a double-barreled shotgun. Shotgun styles are a favourite with the show riders because they offer a clean, unbroken line from the rider's waist to boots. A properly fitting pair of should hang off the waist, should be snug, but not so tight you cannot ride in them. There should be little room in the knee, and soft flare to the bottom to cover your boots. Shotgun show styles usually are decorated with a fringe and accented with conchos and silver buckles and may include a spur slot.
www.hobbyhorseinc.com Stock a beautiful selection of show chaps for the cowgirl.
Bat Wing are the traditional choice for cutters. They are so named because the bottom flares out like a bat wing. The wide wings help to hide the rider's legs and thereby disguise any use of the spur the rider may need to do, considered a no no in the sport. Rodeo rough riders favour the bat wing as well, but for different reasons. To them, spurring is a crucial part of their performance, and having large, colourful pair flapping in the breeze is all part of the show. Batwing usually have a long fringe, and instead of a zipper closure, straps are used.
Chinks are simply a shortened version of chaps. They usually hit the rider below the knee and fasten around the legs with snaps or buckles. Chinks can also be laced up the side and the wearer would step into them instead of fastening with buckles. Chinks can be oil-tanned, which means the leather has been impregnated with oil. This helps the chinks to shed water well, can with stand the rigours of branding and any other tough jobs the working cowgirl must do.
Embrace the Cowgirl Spirit! Saddle up a horse and go riding!