My friend e-mailed me a couple days ago a dozen of cowboys’ proverbs included in the book titled, “Don’t squat with your spurs on” by Texas Bix Bender.

Though I presume this proverb (Don’t squat with your spurs on) admonishes not to do everything impetuously, I can’t figure out what’s wrong with squatting spurs on, as I’m utterly ignorant of cowboys, horse, riding boots, spurs, et cetera.

The question may look naive to you, most Americans, but I don’t honestly understand the "figurative" meaning of the phrase.

Does it mean projections of spurs can hurt you when you squat inadvertently with spurs on?

I was unable to find out a concrete answer in Google Search, though I find the phrase in a row as a heading.

  • 5
    if you search google images for "boot spurs" you will see why squatting with them would be a bad idea. I've never heard the proverb, but I would take it to mean "be aware of your condition and surroundings or you will hurt yourself".
    – Jason M
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 5:16
  • 2
    Because: 3.bp.blogspot.com/-50m2efKP5VA/Tc3fyi1R6xI/AAAAAAAAAkw/… [src: aranchmom.com/cowboys-and-indians/] Cowboy Wisdom.
    – Kris
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 9:21
  • Ben Crowell. Thank you for your comment. I had three down votes to this question at first, which were recovered by four succeeding upvotes. There’s always a god who lets you down, and a god who picks you up. I enjoy that. But the fact is that we Japanese as basically an agricultural race, don’t have cowboy culture and history as you have. I’ve never seen spurs in my life, nor closely watched the boots of cowboys in western movies. So I was unable to even fancy a picture of squatting with SPURS on, until I was shown the pictures by users. Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 21:41

3 Answers 3


These are boots with spurs attached:

enter image description here

You might see how squatting while wearing them could inflict damage on oneself.

"Don't squat with your spurs on" is another way of saying Don't do something without thinking; it's dumb, and could bite you in the ass. All for want of a slight consideration of your circumstances.

This man is kneeling, not squatting; you can get away with kneeling.

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    Squatting with your spurs on is, I guess, a slightly less violent and dangerous parallel to shooting yourself in the foot or sawing off the branch you're sitting on. Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 23:12

A spur is a sharp object used to "encourage" e.g. animals, to run faster.

Squatting on a spur would have a similar effect as say, sitting on thumbtacks.

It's not something you want to do unless you are interested in giving yourself the "encouragement" sometimes meted out to animals.


Seriously, maybe I'm scata-logical but being as squatting most often involves engaging in defacatory actions (for males at least), it can even simply be taken at face value. From cowboy logic, I would think you may be going "deeper" than necessary. Flat out, if you have to take a dump, consider your spurs. If I said "Don't squat in poison ivy" would you have to search for some transcendental meaning or would you just take it as common sense? For the ladies, "Look before you pee-p"

  • People squat for all kinds of reasons (if their knees are good), usually to examine something interesting on the ground, sometimes to take a break from standing, sometimes to talk to a child, etc. Most people in Western countries don't squat to eliminate. I realize you're trying to bring some humor here, but if the OP doesn't understand the saying, this is not helpful. Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 17:54
  • Darn, I thought I did bring humor. The post was two years old so seriously, I don't think it was likely read by the original poster. The answers just made me laugh as being familiar with the book from which it sprung made it funny to see the "in-depth" answers. And as for squatting, campers do squat to eliminate. I suppose I have spent too much time hiking in the woods . Usually without my spurs. (PS - seriously, i was laughing at/with the answers more than the OP's question. And you're right, as a little person with good knees, I do squat for a variety of reasons.)
    – mia kulper
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 19:37
  • The OP is notified of new answers. Lucky you to have good knees! Take care of them; you'll miss them when there're gone. :) Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 21:02

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