Saturday, February 27, 2016

Boots are made for Riding...and walking and dancing and....

                                   “If I can’t wear boots, I’m not going!

        I saw this quote recently on a social media board and I had to laugh. I’ve been saying this for years! Since only some of my friends ride horses, I am considered a little bit strange. 
     Flip flops, Birkenstock and Croc’s make up the majority of my California friends footwear. That’s okay, I like them anyway!
       As a matter of fact, I wore a pair of pearlized cowgirl boots under my wedding dress in 1974.Boy, I wish I had those boots now!  I kept them for years, but when I decided to divorce my first husband, everything except the child, went into the Goodwill bin.

Working cowgirls need good function in a boot.

At a very young age, my Daddy put a pair of black and red cowboy boots on my skinny little feet and I’ve never wore anything else since. It’s kind of a joke that I never wear ‘tie shoes” because I never learned how to tie my shoes. That’s not completely true, I’ve worn my share of high heel pumps, and even a ‘tennyshoe’ occasionally; it’s just I like boots so much better!

 The Cowboy boot sure has gone through some changes in the years though. When Daddy was a boy- somewhere in the 40’s, cowboy boots began to be not only necessary footwear for riders, but also a fashion statement. 

Some cowboys wanted a little fashion in the workplace.

The Pee Wee topped boots were made to be fancy. The ‘tops’ were short so the pant could be stuffed down inside, showing the outside stitching and leatherwork. Fancy inlay, colorful stitching and sharply cut back heels were the vogue. The ACME Co. was a big producer of these, considered by many to be a ‘poor man’s’ boot. They are not so inexpensive today. Collectors of Vintage Western Wear snap these up almost as soon as they hit the markets.

Vintage Pee Wee boots with a scalloped top and with,buck-stitching below the piping.

The 1950’s and the invention and wide distribution of the television set made the next wave of boots fashionable. 
Western hero’s such as Tom Mix, and Roy Rogers kicked wearing boots into high gear. The fancier the better; gaudy colors and Southwestern designs are sure fire indicators of a 50’s vintage boot. 
Thunderbird's, diamonds, flames and bucking horses were popular iconic images stitched into the footwear.

A nice pair of vintage 50's pee wee boots with a bucking horse design.

The 1970’s and Rodeo stars like Larry Mahan and Jim Shoulders toned down the gaudy preferring instead a buck stitched or exotic skinned boot, one that could take you into the rodeo in the afternoon 
and to the  dance at night.
 Though Tony Lama Boot Co began in 1912, they really became popular during this time.

Vintage Tony Lama boots with exotic leather wingtips, and matching buck-stitching.

My all-time favorite boots were a pair of Tony Lama chocolate brown with a lighter snakeskin toe, edged in white buck stitch. I had a purse to match and I thought I was all that AND a bag of chips!  In 1989 the Exotic leather boot made up 45% of Tony Lama’s sales.  This trend lasted deep into the 80s, and then suddenly wearing boots like a cowboy was passé. 

 Today  cowboy boots continue to evolve with duck toed boots, square toed boots and the newest trend, painted leather boots. For the last twenty years it seems like women are now setting the boot trends, not the men. Cowboy boots are regularly being worn with shorts and dresses and by women who probably have never swung a leg over a horse in their lives.
 I say “ You Go, Girl!”
Never wear your spurs like this! You would not only be laughed out of the West, but you might also get hurt! Note that they spurs are put on upside down and way too high around the ankle!

I am not a fashionista of boots, I just enjoy them. I wear them hard and have gone through easily a hundred pair. Most cowboys and cowgirls still want good solid functional boots, with a little ‘pretty’ thrown in for good measure.

An Arizona Cowboy. I bet he never put his spurs on upside down!

The function of the cowboy boot has always remained true; to protect the riders foot from injury. 
The pointy toe wasn’t invented to mash cockroaches into corners, it was designed so the foot could easily slip into, and more importantly, out of a stirrup. 
The lack of laces is by design. If you were to be thrown from a pitchy pony, you sure as heck want your foot to be held loosely in your footwear, and not bound fast by the ankles. And riding through heavy brush, laces can become hung up in thick cover. The high, angled heel will leverage you against the stirrup for security, as well as keeping your foot from sliding clear through. 
Leather soles keep your feet from ‘catching’ in the stirrup. It just so happens that leather soles are also good for dancing! What Cowgirl doesn’t like that!

 Here are just a few things that you may want to know about boots. It is not definitive by any means, and everyone has their own taste and style.

Vintage Stove top boots.

Stove top/Stovepipe boots are straight up and down, and are usually tall; they have no v shape dips in the front or back. 
A nice example of custom made boots, with a scalloped top and mule ear pulls. 

Some have what are called ‘mule ears’ on each side. Mule ears are attached pieces of leather you can grab hold of to drag those boots up on your legs.
 Stove tops can be 16 “tall (or a little more) in some cases. Of course these are meant to be worn outside the pant leg. 
Wild Bill Hitchcock wore stove top boots in a lot of his photographs.

Wild Bill

Scallop Top boots are shorter with a shallow or deep V in the front or back. They are probably the most popular style as they are easier to get on and off. Most come with pull tabs but sometimes a boot maker will put portholes in to make pulling your boots on a little easier.

Port hole pulls

PEE WEE  boots are very short topped boots. Sometimes you will see them as a stove pipe, sometimes as a scallop top.

Vintage Pee Wee boots with a deep scallop top.

 LACERS AND PACKERS are boots with laces going up the front. They are great if you have to walk and ride. I don’t think they are great in heavy bushy country, as the laces can snag in the branches. 
I do have a pair or two for riding around the ranch.

As I mentioned before, I am a little picky about my boots. I usually like to try them on before I buy them, but there are a few brands I can count on for unified fit. 
 For wear ability and usability I always pick 
Right now I probably have four pair of Justin boots. My favorite fancy boots are Justin with a J toe and a low heel of BLUE Ostrich hide. 
They are beautiful and comfortable and my go-to boot for looking good and feeling powerful!
My very own Denim Blue Justin boots. They are so comfy I could sleep in them!

For Horse shows I wear a very durable brown
 JUSTIN Roper. 
They are soft and supple when I am in the saddle all day and hold a beautiful shine so they are easy to care for.
My riding boots. I wear the 'fool' out of them.
My everyday boots are H H Brand. Slick soled leather with a rounded toe; they are the keeper of my spurs. I know that if I am ever hung up on a spooky colt, that boot will slip clean from my foot if necessary. Yet they fit close enough to provide comfort and support all day.

One of my pair of Justin Gypsy's. They come in a bunch of different colored tops, including pink camo!

I go to work every day in JUSTIN Gypsys
Boy, they are great. They are wide in the foot, and with a heavy rubber sole. Not great for riding, but fantastic when you are on your feet all day. I even have a pair in black Patent leather for those days when I need to look a little more dressed up!

The pay dirt in the bottom of the pan is this- find a pair of boots that fit your foot and your lifestyle. 
Then wear them Hell for Leather!