While mounting, the slick, treadless
leather sole of the boot allowed easy insertion
of the foot into the
stirrup of the
Western saddle. While an extremely pointed
toe is a modern stylization appearing in
the 1940s, the toe of the original boots
retained the more rounded shape of other
boots. A slight point to the toe does make
it somewhat easier to quickly insert the
foot in the stirrup, but an extremely pointed
toe is not helpful and not practical in
a working boot.
While mounted, the tall heel prevented
the foot from sliding forward through the
stirrup, which could be life threatening
if it happened and the rider were to be
unseated. The tall shaft, comfortably loose
fit and lack of lacing might save a cowboy's
life since his body weight would pull his
foot out of the boot if he were unseated
and his boot remain stuck in the stirrup.
While dismounting, the slick sole allows
the boot to easily come free of the stirrup.
The tall leather shaft of the boot helped
to hold it in place in the absence of lacing.
While mounted, the shaft protected the leg
from saddle rubbing, brush and thorns. While
dismounted, the shaft helped protect the
leg and foot from rocks, brush, thorns,
and snakes. In wet weather or creek crossings,
the high tops helped prevent the boot from
filling with mud and water.
Decoration varied widely. Early boots
were plain leather, but as custom boots
were made, cowboys asked for decorative
stitching, cutouts in the high tops (early
on, often Texas stars), and different materials.
Modern cowboy boots are available in all
colors of the rainbow and a pair has been
made from just about every animal whose
skin can be made into leather.