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The Main Reasons Why Cowboy Boots Have Heels

The Main Reasons Why Cowboy Boots Have Heels

Most men’s shoes or boots usually don’t have heels. But when it comes to cowboy boots, they have a very interesting feature: the high heels.

Many people wonder about this feature because normally only women’s fashion boots have heels.

What’s more, cowboy boots don’t just have one type of heel, but they have slanted heels or underslung heels.

Now, let’s get back to the past and find out why cowboy boots have heels, the story behind it will be quite interesting!

So, why do cowboy boots have heels? Today, we will find the answer together!

The reasons for heels on cowboy boots

Let’s go back to the past when cowboy boots were born. At that time, the farmers not only need a pair of boots that are sturdy and durable enough to work on the farm and ranch, but also need a pair of boots that are convenient enough, affordable and especially suitable for them to ride a horse.

That is why cowboy boots were born. They were initially made of cowhide (the most durable, sturdy, affordable and easy-to-find materials at that time), smooth outsoles, narrow toe shape (round toe or pointed toe), and especially high heels (quite different from other boots).

These high heels mainly prevent cowboy’s feet from slipping forward too much and out of stirrup while riding. This ensures the rider’s safety, balance and stability.

In fact, when riding, riders often put the ball of the foot on top of the stirrup bar, along with using cowboy boots that have smooth outsoles to make their feet easy to slide forward.

So the heel of cowboy boots is usually high (about 2 inches) and slanted to form a hook to hold onto the stirrup bar when needed and make sure cowboy boots don’t slip out.

Next to the heel is the nook of the heel, the stirrup will lie there and be fixed by the heel.

Why do cowboy boots have underslung heels or slanted heels?

In fact, an underslung heel or slanted heel will work better than a block-shaped heel in hooking tightly to the stirrup of the saddle while riding a horse. From there it prevents your feet from slipping out of the stirrup better than the block-shaped one.

The reason is that the underslung heel or slanted heel of a cowboy boot will have a certain angle. That angle and the nook next to the heel make it easier for cowboy boots to hook into the stirrup bar tighter than the squared-off heel.

Block-shaped heels (such as stockman heels or some roper heels) are generally more suitable for walking than for riding because most of them are low, wide, and have flat bottoms. This gives you better balance when walking. Whereas, this heel does not really help as much as an underslung heel when hooking on a saddle’s stirrup.

In fact, it is very dangerous if the horse falls or when the angry horse makes you fall out of the saddle and one leg gets stuck in a stirrup because of the heels of the cowboy boots.

Your chance at life is to immediately remove the cowboy boots to get rid of the horse and not be dragged down the road. But if you are a die-hard fan of cowboy boots, you will know that it is not easy to rescue yourself in that situation.

That’s why cowboy boots have smooth outsoles and pointed toes. These two elements not only help you easily slide the cowboy boots into the stirrup, but also slide out.

From there, it makes you more flexible to cope with dangerous situations. After all, it is much better to go home barefoot than be dragged for miles by the silly horse, right?

When you’re riding, how do the sole and the toe shape of cowboy boots affect your ride? You can learn more in our articles:

How high are cowboy boot heels?

Cowboy boots with heels have a height of 1 inch to 3.5 inches. The low heels of cowboy boots are usually 1 inch, while the standard heel height is around 1.5 inches. As for high heels, they are measured 2 inches or more.

You can find cowboy boots with low heels and standard heels in product lines such as Stockman, Western boots, Western Work Boots… High-heeled boots are usually Riding boots, Fashion boots, etc.

Read more: Types Of Heels On Cowboy Boots

Can you change the heel on a cowboy boot?

You can completely replace the heels of cowboy boots if they are damaged. The signals of broken heels are that they get worn and the nail starts emerging on the surface of the heels (the surface is in contact with the ground).

You can find a good cobbler and tell him to replace the heels of your cowboy boots, he even can replace the height and style of the heels.

You can completely replace the heel cap of cowboy boots by yourself if it is not too badly damaged or just gets worn a little bit.

Normally, if you use cowboy boots regularly, you should replace new heels every 2 years for leather heels and every 4 or 5 years for rubber heels.

For the methods to replace a new heel cap, check out our guide here!


Cowboy boots with heels serve one main purpose which is to help cowboy boots easily hook into the stirrup of the saddle, thereby making it easy for cowboys to maintain the best balance possible.

There are many different types of cowboy boot heels, typically an underslung heel and a slanted heel. These heel types make cowboy boots more compact, less tall, and lighter while retaining the main effect which is to help the cowboy balance on horseback.

You should research clearly what type of cowboy boots with heels will suit your intended use.

And don’t forget to replace the heels of cowboy boots at least every 2 years for leather heels and every 4 or 5 years for rubber heels (if you wear boots regularly).

Good luck!