Country and Western used to be two completely separate genres.
“Country” was the commercial version of the hills music of the southeast. The music was often fairly traditional and conservative, although there were many wild personalities involved. Instrumentation was pretty much exclusively electric and consisted primarily of string instruments. The country scene eventually centered around Nashville.
“Western” was much less traditional, although it descended from the plains and desert music of the southwest. Western also had a big swing jazz influence and many of the most popular acts had big horn sections and few string instruments. The western scene centered commercially around Los Angeles.
These two genres had one big thing in common: most of the listeners were dirty hicks that loved hoedowns. Hank Williams was one of the first to combine elements of the two genres, although it wasn’t a musical combination. Rather, he introduced the Western look to the country scene. Today we take it for granted that dirty hicks from the south wear cowboy hats but before the 1940s it just wasn’t common practice. Most of the southern states weren’t suited for raising cattle and cowboy attire just wasn’t a natural part of the culture.
Eventually, the two major dirty hick genres drifted toward each other and Nashville’s country machine absorbed the western genre. Horns disappeared but western musical forms like boogie dances became quite common. The End.