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Friday, December 5, 2008

Cowboy Boots Explained

Cowboy boot
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Ad for Tony Lama featuring custom boots made for President Harry S. Truman.Cowboy boots refer to a specific style of riding boot, historically worn by cowboys. They have a high heel, rounded to pointed toe, high shaft, and, traditionally, no lacing. Cowboy boots are normally made from cowhide leather but are also sometimes made from "exotic" skins such as alligator, snake, ostrich, lizard, eel, elephant, sting ray, elk, buffalo, and the like.

There are two basic styles of cowboy boots, western (or classic), and roper. The western style is distinguished by a tall boot shaft, going to at least mid-calf, with an angled "cowboy" heel, usually over one inch high. A slightly lower, still angled, "walking" heel is also common. Although western boots can be customized with a wide variety of toe shapes, the classic design is a narrowed, usually pointed, toe.

A newer design, the "roper" style, has a short boot shaft that stops above the ankle but before the middle of the calf, with a very low and squared-off "roper" heel, shaped to the sole of the boot, usually less than one inch high. Roper boots are usually made with rounded toes, but, correlating with style changes in streetwear, styles with a squared toe are seen. The roper style is also manufactured in a lace-up design which often fits better around the ankle and is less likely to slip off, but these two features also create safety issues for riding.