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Getting the Boot

March 06, 1997

Jim Crofoot, a western-wear historian who lives in Lake Forest, says western boots were invented by the Spaniards and brought to California in 1769, about 80 years before they rode into Texas.

These boots had long toes that made it easier to find a stirrup and a high heel to stop the foot from going through the stirrup. "Every cowboy knows you never ever want to be dragged by one leg under a running horse," he says.

The stitching on the top shaft of the boot, which has become decorative, keeps the shaft rigid and stops it from slouching down around the ankle.

Crofoot offers these other bits of boot trivia:

* In the mid-19th century, before comfort was king, cavalry soldiers wore boots called straights--both boots were the same; there was no left or right.

* As fences and barbed wire divided up the states, ranches got smaller and closer--and branding cattle became necessary. Roper boots were made with low heels and rounded toes, which made it easier to jump off a horse and run to a roped calf to brand it.

* The Justin Lace-r boots, which have only been around 10 years, are primarily worn for dancing.

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