The western cowboy boots evolved out to of a very practical necessity, namely the need to protect the feet for people who stayed outdoors for long hours, some times even days on end, in harsh, bitter cold weather. The cowboy boot, staring out as the rudimentary kind of footwear, had one, and only one use- its thick, sturdy nature protected the feet.
Some say that ‘cowboy boots’ came to North America with the fearsome Conquistadores, way back in the 17th Century, and gradually passed on to local styles. Others, however, say that these boots hail actually from America itself, rather than having been brought in from abroad.
Shepherds and rangers, so the story goes, wore these boots, or started wearing them from ’round about the middle of the 19th Century. A very interesting version is that stated by the ‘insiders’ of the shoemaking industry – that is, the shoe makers and boot makers. St.Crispin, the patron saint of all cobblers and shoe makers, the myth goes, was the one who originally came up with the design of this kind of footwear.
Whatever the case, and there is no end of debate regarding this, what we do know for certain are the early types of cowboy boots. The most famous, of course, is the Wellington Boot, the classic boot, so to speak. Again, in the latter half of the 19th C, we had ‘horsemen boots’, which were characterized by their high heels and superior quality of leather.
The same kind of shoe, albeit slightly different in terms of design, was the Cavalier, derived from European military footwear. Often, boots would be grafted at the front – in fact this was one of the chief features of most non-military boots. This was known as the Coffeyville pattern.
Another major innovation was in the Hessian boots in the 20th century, with its V-shaped front and often decorative lace trappings etc. Indeed, in the last 50 odd years, we have seen the gradual transformation of the ‘cowboy boot’ into a fashion and style icon; and all sorts of styles, embroidery, jewelry, faux fur material etc, has been added on to it in recent years.
Maintenance and Taking Care of your Western Boots
We need to understand that cowboy boots are so sturdy and durable mostly because its fiber is very strong. However, please remember that any dirt that accumulates on the boot tends to weaken these fibers considerably, and the boots tend to wear out faster. Therefore, any impression that you might have had that cowboy boots, since they are meant for rough use in outdoors, do not require maintenance, is wholly wrong. On the contrary, you actually need to take special care of your cowboy boots so that they last for a very long time.
1. Use a damp piece of cloth to wipe these boots at times. That way, you prevent the dirt from accumulating.
2. Use lanolin based conditioner to condition your boots, and keep the leather soft. Without this, the boots become hard and unfit for wearing. Avoid using oil based conditioners, as they absorb dirt and only make the boots dirtier.
3. Use a decent cream polish.
Keep the above in mind and make the best use of your western boots. Enjoy them!