The History Of Cowboy Boots

A short explanation and history of the cowboy boot. Information on patterns, stitching, and overlays.

No one has been able to find out who the real inventor of the cowboy boot was. But, it is easy to look back and find the time in history when they first appeared and where they started. Cowboy boots have a long history dating back many years.

Around the time of the Civil war, most cowboys were wearing whatever footwear they could afford, which usually weren't very high quality. After the war ended, some cowboys donned the boots they had worn in the war, but those were not much better. All cowboys could agree on one thing: they needed something better to protect their feet on their long and rough cattle drives. There were many dangers on the trail like snakes and barbed wire that a cowboy would continually face. The boots that cowboys were wearing did not protect them or allow them to easily ride their horses. Although no one has pinned down an actual inventor, legend has it that sometime in the 1870s, a cowboy took his boots to a shoemaker in either Texas or Kansas and gave the shoemaker some ideas to improve them.

He asked the shoemaker to craft a new kind of boot with a narrower or square toe so that he could more easily get his feet into his stirrups and a bigger heel to keep his foot in the stirrup while he rode and to allow him more traction when walking on rocky terrain or pulling a stubborn animal around. He also asked for a shoe that would protect his legs up to the knee from the many dangers on the cattle drive. The cobbler did this and he made them fit tightly at the bottom so as not to fall off, but looser at the top so that a cowboy in trouble could easily wiggle out of his boots.

The boots were also crafted from a very tough leather to make them more durable and to better protect the cowboy's legs. The stitching that you typically see on a cowboy boot today was originally placed there to keep the leather intact and help the boots last longer and was at first only in black or dark brown. Cowboy boots were not the fashion accessory that they are today. At first, they were only a tool for a cowboy to use and they had to be custom made to a cowboy's particular fit. Most people who were not cowboys had no practical use for them.

But, as time went on, shoemakers began to experiment with new and different patterns, stitching and overlays to give the boots an original look. Also, around this time, the cowboy was becoming an American icon and everyone wanted to look like one. Soon people wanted boots with new designs and wore them for all kinds of purposes.

Most of the long-term success of cowboy boot sales can be contributed to their versatility and practicality. There was no other shoe designed to help them more with their job, and shoemakers knew they would be able to sell them.

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