How To Make A Flag Boot Out Of A Horn - Page 1 of 2
You can make a great looking flag boot for your saddle out of a horn.
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Flags are often carried horseback at a rodeo or other horse-related activity. A "flag boot" is a holder strapped to a rider's stirrup fender so they can carry a flag more securely.
By placing the bottom of the flag pole into a flag boot the rider can hold the pole more easily than simply carrying it free-hand, placing it on top of their toes, or putting it inside of their boot.
Below: A flag boot made from a cow or steer horn.
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Flag boots have traditionally been made of leather, but a flag boot made from a horn makes a nice alternative. A horn flag boot is fast and easy to make, and is an attractive Western accent for any rider carrying a flag.
Choose A Horn
You will need to choose a horn to use for your flag boot. You can choose a horn according to your personal preferences or according to what's available. You will need a horn that has been off of the skull long enough that the bone and tissue inside are gone, and you are left with the clean outer shell of the horn. For safety's sake, be sure to choose a horn that will allow for easy entry and removal of a flag pole.
Below: A steer horn.
If you're curious about what horns are and what they're made of, you can see our article Cow Horns.
If Necessary, Cut The Top Off
You will want the top of your horn flag boot to be fairly smooth, level, and sturdy. If necessary, trim off the top of the horn to remove any jagged or thin areas. Horn is easy to saw through and a simple handsaw will cut the top off quickly and easily.
This horn came off a de-horned steer. It's top is already fairly thick, sturdy, and smooth and doesn't need trimmed.
This horn came off a steer that died, then the horn slipped off of the skull several months later. It's top is thin and jagged and should be trimmed down until it is thicker and smoother.
Mark Where To Cut, Then Cut Slots
You will need to cut two slots into your horn so you can run a strap through them in order to buckle the flag boot to your saddle. Use a pencil to mark where to cut the slots on your horn, not an ink marker. Ink will quickly sink into the porous horn shell and may leave permanent marks.
Below: The yellow arrow is pointing to two pencil marks on the horn.
To know where to mark the horn for slots, hold it down by your ankle as though it was already strapped to your saddle. Turn the horn around several times to decide which side should go against the saddle and which side should point away from the horse. If your horn is fairly long or curved you'll want to mark the slots so that the finished flag boot doesn't poke your horse in the back of the front leg or in the belly.
Don't mark to cut your slots too close to the top of the horn. Cutting slots too close to the top can weaken the top of the horn, allowing it to break. Also mark to cut your slots as wide apart as you can so that the area between the slots doesn't break out.
After you have marked your slots cut them out. A Dremel tool with a cutting blade works well for this. If you use a Dremel wear eye protection (little bits of horn fly everywhere), heavy gloves (the Dremel blade can easily skip off of the horn), and follow all other safety precautions as suggested by the manufacturer.
Where To Find Horns
If you need a horn for your flag boot, try checking with the vet at a local cattle sale barn at the end of sale day. Buyers will frequently send horned cattle to the vet to have their horns removed before they take them home. Wear rubber gloves and take along a plastic, sealable baggie because these will be fresh horns with bone and tissue inside. After you get your horn home allow it time outdoors, with free access by insects but protected by predators, until you are left with a clean horn shell inside and out. Caution: There is always a chance that the freshly removed horn could be carrying disease. Handle at your own risk.
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