Cowboy Boots – “Why We Wear’um?”
There is no doubt that cowboy boots have a certain romance and mystique to them. Those of us who were youngsters in the ‘50s wanted to be like Roy, Dale, Gene, and Hopalong by wearing our most treasured footwear, cowboy boots.
No one really knows for sure where the first pair of cowboy boots were made. Stories and legends indicate that it was either a shoemaker in Kansas or Texas. When the Civil War ended in 1865, the cowboys who were driving cattle along the trails to market realized they really needed a different type of boot. The boots they wore during the war weren’t suitable for riding through brush, splashing through creeks and rivers and riding with their feet in stirrups for long hours. Sometime around 1870 a cowboy took his boots to a shoemaker and ask for a pointy toe so he could get his foot in the stirrup more easily; a taller shaft to protect his legs; and a bigger, thicker, underslung heel so his foot wouldn’t come out of the stirrup. This type of heel also helped the cowboy dig into the ground while trying to hold a stubborn mule or cow. It also helps present day professional rodeo bulldoggers stop a running steer. The higher knee-high design protected from mesquite tree thorns, barbed wire, snakes and other dangers.
The first cowboy boots were handmade from cowhide with customization limited to mostly decorative stitching. During the 1930’s and 1940’s the cowboy lifestyle no longer focused on practically, but more on fashion due to Hollywood starting to produce Western films. The growing interest in rodeos, popularity of the country and western culture, and charity benefits such as various Cattle Baron Balls also contribute to the popularity of cowboy boots. Cowboy boots started being made from exotic skins and leathers with much more decorative stitching, inlays and colors. Boot companies also began mass producing the cowboy boot. A person can still order a custom handmade pair of cowboy boots; however, the person must be prepared to pay a sizeable price, in the thousands, and patient enough to wait at least six months and longer.
So pull on your cowboy boots and head out to your favorite honky tonk for a little Boot Scootin’.