If you’ve ever seen or worn a pair of cowboy boots, you may have noticed a mysterious piece of metal on the back of them and wondered what it’s for. This small metal plate, often decorated with intricate designs, serves an important functional purpose for cowboy boots.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The metal piece on the back of cowboy boots is called a spur rest or spur ridge. It provides a place for cowboys to rest the spur when taking off or putting on the boot.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the metal piece on cowboy boots, including what it’s called, what it’s made of, why it’s there, and how cowboys use it.

What Is the Metal Piece on the Back of Cowboy Boots Called?

Cowboy boots are not only a stylish fashion statement but also functional footwear for horseback riding and ranch work. One distinctive feature that sets them apart from other types of boots is the metal piece on the back.

This metal piece serves a specific purpose and is known by different names depending on its design and function.

Spur Rest

The metal piece on the back of cowboy boots is commonly referred to as a spur rest. This small, rounded or oval-shaped metal plate is strategically placed on the heel counter of the boot. Its purpose is to provide a stable and secure resting place for the spurs worn by cowboys and cowgirls.

Spurs are a tool used for communication between the rider and the horse. They consist of a metal shank with a rotating wheel called a rowel. When the rider applies pressure with their heel, the rowel spins and produces a gentle or more pronounced cue to the horse, depending on the desired response.

Spur Ridge

In some cowboy boots, instead of a spur rest, you may find a raised ridge or lip on the back of the heel counter. This feature is known as a spur ridge and serves a similar purpose as a spur rest. It helps keep the spur in place and prevents it from sliding down the boot while riding.

The design of the spur ridge may vary between boot brands and models. Some have a wider and more pronounced ridge, while others have a more subtle elevation. The choice between a spur rest and a spur ridge is often a matter of personal preference for riders.

Rowel Guard

In addition to the spur rest or spur ridge, some cowboy boots also feature a rowel guard. This is a small metal plate or cover that is positioned over the rowel of the spur. The primary purpose of the rowel guard is to provide protection to the rider’s leg from the spinning rowel.

The rowel guard can prevent accidental contact between the rowel and the rider’s leg, reducing the risk of injury. It is particularly useful during activities that involve quick movements or when working with young or sensitive horses that may be more reactive to the cues given by the rider.

It’s important to note that not all cowboy boots have a spur rest, spur ridge, or rowel guard. Some boots are designed without these features, catering to individuals who do not use spurs or prefer a more streamlined look.

So, the next time you see a metal piece on the back of cowboy boots, you’ll know that it serves a practical purpose for riders who use spurs. Whether it’s called a spur rest, spur ridge, or features a rowel guard, this small detail adds functionality to the iconic design of cowboy boots.

What is the Spur Rest Made of?

The spur rest is the metal piece on the back of cowboy boots that holds the spur in place. It is an essential component for riders who use spurs for communication and control while horseback riding.

Nickel Silver

One common material used for the spur rest is nickel silver. It is an alloy made of copper, nickel, and zinc. Nickel silver is known for its strength and corrosion resistance, making it a durable choice for the spur rest.

Stainless Steel

Another popular material for the spur rest is stainless steel. Stainless steel is highly resistant to rust and tarnish, making it perfect for outdoor activities like horseback riding. It is also known for its durability and ability to withstand wear and tear.


Brass is another material that is sometimes used for the spur rest. It is an alloy made of copper and zinc. Brass has a beautiful golden color and is known for its malleability and corrosion resistance.

It’s important to note that the choice of material for the spur rest may vary depending on personal preference and style. Some cowboy boots may have a spur rest made of a different material, such as a decorative metal or even plastic.

Ultimately, the material used for the spur rest should be strong enough to securely hold the spur in place while providing comfort for the rider.

Why Do Cowboy Boots Have a Spur Rest?

One distinctive feature of cowboy boots is the metal piece on the back, known as a spur rest. This small, curved hook-like attachment serves an important purpose for cowboys and cowgirls who use spurs while riding horses. Let’s explore the reasons behind the inclusion of a spur rest on cowboy boots.

1. Convenient Placement

The spur rest is strategically placed on the back of cowboy boots to provide a secure and comfortable position for attaching spurs. By having a designated spot for spurs, riders can easily access and adjust them without the risk of them sliding around or falling off during rigorous activities such as roping or barrel racing.

2. Safety and Stability

The spur rest also plays a crucial role in ensuring the rider’s safety and stability while on horseback. When attached properly to the spur rest, spurs stay securely in place, preventing them from accidentally falling off or getting snagged on objects.

This helps to maintain the rider’s balance and control, especially during fast-paced maneuvers or when riding in challenging terrain.

3. Traditional Aesthetics

Aside from its functional purpose, the spur rest adds to the traditional aesthetics of cowboy boots. It is a symbol of the cowboy or cowgirl lifestyle and is often associated with the rich history and culture of the American West.

The metal piece on the back of cowboy boots adds a touch of authenticity and visual appeal, enhancing the overall look of the boots.

How Do Cowboys Use the Spur Rest?

Cowboy boots are an iconic symbol of the Wild West, and one distinctive feature that sets them apart is the metal piece on the back of the boot known as the spur rest. The spur rest serves a specific purpose and is an essential tool for cowboys in their daily activities.

What is a spur?

Before understanding how cowboys use the spur rest, it’s important to know what a spur is. A spur is a metal tool that is attached to the heel of a cowboy boot using a spur strap. It has a small wheel with pointed prongs, called a rowel, which is used to give commands to a horse.

Function of the spur rest

The metal piece on the back of cowboy boots, known as the spur rest, serves as a resting place or support for the spur. It is designed to hold the spur in place and prevent it from slipping down or rotating on the boot while the cowboy is riding or working with a horse.

The spur rest is typically made of metal, like the rest of the boot, and is positioned in a way that allows the rowel of the spur to be easily and securely attached. This ensures that the spur remains in the correct position on the boot, making it more effective and comfortable for the cowboy to use.

Additionally, the spur rest helps to protect the boot from damage caused by the rowel of the spur. Without the spur rest, the constant movement and pressure of the rowel against the boot leather could cause wear and tear, eventually leading to the need for repairs or replacement.

When a cowboy wants to use spurs while riding a horse, they first attach the spur straps to each boot. The spur straps are then adjusted to the desired length and secured. Next, the cowboys position the rowel of the spur onto the spur rest, making sure it is aligned properly and securely fastened.

Once the spurs are in place, cowboys use their legs and feet to apply pressure to the horse’s sides. By gently pressing the rowel into the horse’s flank, the cowboy can give commands or signals to the horse, such as speeding up, slowing down, or changing direction.

It’s important to note that the use of spurs is not meant to be harsh or cruel. Skilled cowboys have a delicate touch and use the spurs as a subtle aid to communicate with their horses effectively. The spur rest plays a crucial role in keeping the spurs in the correct position, allowing cowboys to use them confidently and comfortably.

So, the next time you see a cowboy wearing boots with a metal piece on the back, you’ll know that it’s the spur rest, an essential part of their gear that helps them communicate with their horses.

Spur Rest Designs and Styles

Spur rests are an essential component of cowboy boots that serve a practical purpose while also adding to the overall aesthetic appeal. The metal piece on the back of cowboy boots, commonly referred to as the spur rest, is designed to provide a secure and stable platform for attaching spurs.

Spur rests come in a variety of designs and styles, allowing boot wearers to choose one that suits their personal preferences and needs.

Traditional Spur Rest

The traditional spur rest design features a small metal loop or slot that is attached to the back of the boot. This loop or slot is positioned at the ideal height to accommodate the attachment of spurs.

Traditional spur rests are often made of durable metals such as stainless steel or brass, ensuring longevity and resistance to wear and tear.

Decorative Spur Rest

For those who want to add a touch of flair to their cowboy boots, decorative spur rests are a popular choice. These spur rests feature intricate designs and embellishments, such as engravings, etchings, or even gemstones, to enhance the visual appeal of the boots.

Decorative spur rests not only serve a functional purpose but also make a fashion statement, allowing wearers to showcase their unique style and personality.

Customized Spur Rest

Some boot enthusiasts prefer to have their spur rests customized to reflect their individuality. Customized spur rests can be personalized with initials, logos, or symbols that hold special meaning to the wearer.

These unique designs add a personal touch to the boots and make them truly one-of-a-kind. Customized spur rests are often crafted by skilled artisans who specialize in creating bespoke cowboy boots.

It’s worth noting that the design of the spur rest can vary depending on the specific style of cowboy boots. Western boots, for example, may have a slightly different spur rest design compared to traditional cowboy boots.

Additionally, the size and shape of the spur rest may also differ based on the brand and manufacturer of the boots.

For more information about cowboy boots and their components, you can visit reputable websites such as www.bootedman.com or www.texasbootcompany.com.


So in summary, the metal piece on the back of cowboy boots known as a spur rest, spur ridge, or rowel guard serves an important purpose. It provides a place for cowboys to safely rest their boot spurs when putting on or taking off their boots. This prevents damage to the boot itself.

The spur rest is traditionally made of metal like nickel silver, stainless steel, or brass, and can be plain or elaborately embellished with engraved designs. For cowboys wearing spurs, this small metal piece is an integral part of the cowboy boot.

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