A number of questions entered into search engines have directed visitors to this blog or my cowboy boots tutorial on my website that have asked,
How do you change heels on roper boots?
Can you change heels of cowboy boots?
When you order new cowboy boots, can you specify different heel heights?
Probably not, probably, and it depends.
Now, let’s look at each question.
Roper boots: heels on ropers are usually about 1/2-inch (1.3cm) high, and are wide and flat. Some guys prefer a more substantial, higher heel. While it is possible for a good cobbler (or shoe repair guy) to replace a roper heel with another heel, the cobbler may not find any type of heel that would fit the heel plate on the boot. Another way to look at this matter is to think about trying to attach a banana to an orange. Well, not quite…. The point is that the size of the heel plate on the bottom of a roper-style boot requires a large flat heel to attach to it, and to my knowledge, there are not any higher heels that have such a wide, flat plate at the top to attach to a boot.
There are, however, a few roper-style boots that have higher heels — such as my Justin J3040 boots shown here. It is possible to get the roper boots made that way when you buy them. Higher heels on ropers is not common, so there are fewer alternate options available.
Change heels of cowboy boots: yes, most good-quality cowboy boots can have heels replaced, and heel replacements do not have to match the height of what was there before. Heels that are higher or lower can replace other heels to the degree a cobbler has a selection that meets your interests. Note that boots that have heels attached to the sole with nails can be replaced. If the heels are glued to the soles, then replacing the heels is probably not possible. Cheap, low-quality boots (often made in China) often have glued soles. Ask a cobbler or shoe repair guy to check your boots to determine if the heels are nailed or glued.
When you order new cowboy boots, can you specify different heel heights: in depends on the manufacturer. Most commercial bootmakers only offer type and height of a heel and usually offer a comfortable heel that meets in the middle — usually called a “walking heel”. This heel is usually 1-3/8 inches to 1-5/8 inches (3.6cm – 4.1cm) high. A few commercial manufacturers allow a purchaser to specify heel height from a list of heels offered. Black Jack Boots and Lucchese Boots are examples of such manufacturers.
To get different heels (or toes) on commercial cowboy boots whose manufacturers offer choices, you have to make arrangements through a boot retailer. If the heel style and height is not made on the boots you want as part of a standard production run, then the manufacturer will advise the retailer if they will do it, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.
Of course if you have custom boots made by any custom bootmaker, then you can be expected to be asked about the heel style and height you want.
In summary, pretty much anything you want can be done with cowboy boots, including changing the style and height of heels. Usually these choices come at a cost, and sometimes the cost is high. But remember the old axiom: “you don’t ‘get’ unless you ask, so ASK!”
For more information, read my post titled, “Most Common Cowboy Boot Heel Styles“.
Life is short: wear boots!