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Cowboy boots refer to a specific style of riding boot, historically worn by cowboys. They have a Cuban heel, rounded to pointed toe, high shaft, and, traditionally, no lacing. Cowboy boots are normally made from cowhide leather, which may be decoratively hand tooled, but are also sometimes made from "exotic" skins like alligator, snake, ostrich, lizard, eel, elephant, stingray, elk, buffalo, and so on.
There are two basic styles of cowboy boots, western (or classic), and roper. The classic style is distinguished by a tall boot shaft, going to at least mid-calf, with an angled "cowboy" heel, usually over one inch high. A slightly lower, still angled, "walking" heel is also common. The toe of western boots was originally rounded or squared in shape. The narrow pointed toe design appeared in the early 1940s.A newer design, the "roper" style, has a short boot shaft that stops above the ankle but before the middle of the calf, with a very low and squared-off "roper" heel, shaped to the sole of the boot, usually less than one inch high. Roper boots are usually made with rounded toes, but, correlating with style changes in streetwear, styles with a squared toe are seen. The roper style is also manufactured in a lace-up design which often fits better around the ankle and is less likely to slip off, but lacing also creates safety issues for riding. They usually have some sort of decorative stitching.