The History of the Cowboy Boot

What was once a utilitarian design has now become a fashion statement, no longer are cowboy boots just for the cowboys! Today, styles range from “hippie chic” designs to 2-tone brown boots made with calfskin, there’s something for everyone! But where did the cowboy boot begin? In honor of March being Texas History month, we did a little moseying around this excellent site on the history of cowboy boots and learned some great history!

Dating back to the end of the Civil War, in 1865 “the cowboys who were driving cattle across the country discovered that they needed a different style of boots.” Their “war” boots were not suited for long hours of riding on the trails, “blazing through the brush and brambles, splashing through creeks and rivers, and riding with their feet in stirrups for hours at a time.” Realizing this, an ingenious cowboy went to a shoemaker and requested the following changes:

  • A pointy toe so he could get his foot into the stirrup more easily.
  • A taller shaft to protect his legs.
  • A bigger, thicker, underslung heal so his foot wouldn’t come out of the stirrup during the rough riding on the trails.

These alterations created a more comfortable ride altogether. With the new boot:

  • The knee-high design protected his legs from the thorns of mesquite trees, barbed wire, snakes, and other dangers.
  • The cowboy boots were pulled on with long mule-ear straps but were loose enough on the top so that they could be wiggled out of easily if the cowboy was hung up in the stirrup and needed to get out in a hurry.
  • The tough leather that the cowboy boots were made from also protected the cowboy’s ankles from being bruised by the wooden stirrups, and his legs from rubbing against the stirrup leathers.
  • The cowboy boots were stitched on the outside to keep the leather from buckling and eventually rubbing against the cowboy’s leg.

And so began what we all now know (and love!) as the cowboy boot. Today we are thankful for that smart cowboy back in 1870 who paved the way. Today, whether you’re ropin’ horses or headed to a quaint, spring backyard dinner, wear your cowboy boots and wear ’em proud!

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