Most cowboy boots have a four-piece top. The piece of leather that surrounds the wearer’s heel is called the “heel counter.”
On most boots, the heel counter is just an echo of whatever is stitched on the toe. Not nearly as strong or as clear. Simple repetition …or all together plain.
A few boots do it better.
A working cowboy boot has a plain toe destined for muck and trouble. Schwarz Custom Boots put a pair of horse heads on the heel counter of these stitched boots. Shadows. Matched in color to the sole, heel and counter, the horse heads are hard to spot …hard to forget.
Just married. Rocketbuster Boots made these white-on-white wedding boots. Instead of tying cans to a car bumper… Nevena Christi stitched these boots with good luck horseshoes, hearts and sparkles. Perfect.
“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”
Narrow trim that runs along the boot top and side seams. Sometimes called the side welt.” White piping is popular throughout central Texas…on almost any color boot.
Bootmakers can buy piping in spools from supply companies, but often make their own to match custom designs and fancy materials.
Bootmakers will cut a narrow strip of leather, skive (thin) the edges… then lay a cord or string down the middle, giving the trim a smooth rounded shape. On the Dave Wheeler Boot (above) the custom made blue piping is a match to the 10 rows of hand stitching. Beautiful.
On the Rocketbuster boot (left) the piping is nearly disguised in the hotrod pin-striping design. Very cool. The pull is on the inside of the boot. You can see the red piping runs along the top of the boot and down the side seam. Notice how the piping is almost invisible, camouflaged in the narrow inlay and the criscross double-row red stitching.
The right-hand photo shows and old Tex Robin boot. The leather has worn thru and you can see the cotton cord. The piping on this boot matches the boot leather and lets your eyes focus on the stitch pattern. This pair was found at a Texas yard sale, I love how the previous owner left the fray hanging.
If you have a copy of my book. Flip through the pages… look at the piping. Tell me what you think in the comments below.
Top 2 photos by Marty Snortum. Bottom right photo, by me.
The strip of leather that runs up and down the back of the inside of the boot lining to stiffen and support the boot top. Your heel “slides” down this piece when you’re putting on your boot. Also, called a “back stay” by some bootmakers.
Heel slides are in almost every pair of cowboy boots they are seldom as fancy as this pair. Heel slides are particularly important in a boot’s construction when a boot top is made out of a thinner leather, like kangaroo or kidskin. With everyday wear, boot tops made of thin or soft leather are likely to wrinkle and maybe even bunch at the ankles… if the top stitching and the heel slides weren’t providing support.
Pascal Davayat stitches each heel slide in the shape of an iron cross. His boots are about non-comformity inside and out.
Fancy leather overlay on a boot toe that is similar to other “foxing” but is often bordered with a uniform row of small punched holes.
Wingtips are a dressy design element that shows up on both men’s and women’s cowboy boots. Often when you see wingtips on the foot of a boot, you’ll likely see the same pattern of small perforated holes elsewhere on the boot …maybe on the pulls, the heel counter, or around the collar at the very top of boot.
“Foxing” is a type of overlay, but with no small holes. It is usually made up of bold curves and points, part flame part feather. When I think of “wingtips” I think of Lisa Sorrell and Paul Bond boots. When I think of foxing, I think of Dave Little and Tex Robin (â€¦although Tex calls his foxing and overlays, “wingtips” which confuses my point, here.)