Boots are only a small part of a cowboy’s “uniform.” How much do you know about boots? Did you know there is a patron saint of shoe and boot makers, Saint Crispin?
Basic Parts of Boots
PIPING: The founded strips of leather running up the sides of the boot, centered.
PULL HOLES: These are finger holes at the tops of boots, which have replaced pull straps. Cowboys sometimes refer to them as “windows.”
PULL STRAPS: These are leather straps attached to either the outside or inside at the back tops of boots. Used to help pull on the boots. Working cowboys tend to not have this because the straps can get caught on things or rub against a leg and cause discomfort.
SCALLOP: This is the V-shape on the front and back the boot.
SHANK: This is the part of the boot used to reinforce the cowboy’s arch.
SOLE: Besides the heel, this is the only part of the boot that makes contact with the ground.
SPUR REST: This is a ridge on the back of the boot that helps to hold up a spur.
STAY: This is a strip of leather running up and down the back of the inside of the boot lining for support of the boot. Cowboys commonly prefer a four-inch wide strip that runs from the bottom of the boot to the top.
TOE BOX: This is a stiff piece of material in the top of the boot toe between the outer leather and the lining to reinforce the shape.
TOE BUG: Decorative stitching common to each boot maker. It is sometimes called the “toe flower” or “medallion.”
TONGUE: The top part of the vamp sewn onto the upper front portion of the boot. It is usually reinforced with another layer of leather because the cowboy’s stirrup hits this area of the boot.
VAMP: The lower part of the boot that covers the foot.
STYLE: There are basically two types of western styles: traditional and fashion. Traditional boots are functional with a classic design. Fashion boots are available from many designers and have a more urban or contemporary look.
MATERIAL: Leather is the most traditional material for boots, but there are many exotic materials used, mainly for dressing up.
COLOR: Traditional boots are in neutral, earthy tones such as brown, black or gray. Beyond that, boots are available in everything from hot pink to neon green to whatever.
HEEL HEIGHT: In the old westerns, the average heel height for a cowboy’s boot was 2 inches. The heights today vary from nearly flat to 4-inch stiletto. But the traditional western boot has a height of 1 ¾ inches, to fit well in stirrups.
TOES: Boots come in various styles of toes, such as pointed, square, and rounded. The classic cowboy boot has toes that are tapered (smaller towards the tip), but also rounded. This style is easier to slip the foot in and out of stirrups. Pointed toes can go all the way to “needle pointed” and are popular in today’s fashion. Rounded toes are popular for rodeo calf-ropers. It is a good choice for a walking boot, but not for riding long distances. Square toes are more of a fashion statement, but they are popular for riding boots and walking boots.