Monday, October 29, 2012

RIP Dublin Boots and a PSA message

In honor of my beloved Dublin River boots giving up the fight after 2 years of near-constant abuse, I felt that I should write about riding boots. RIP, London boots!

On the subject of riding boots, yes, you need them. Riding boots have the right grip and tread to be safe in the stirrups and usually have a hardened or steel toe to protect your feet from naught pony feet stomping. There are, however, a dizzying amount of kinds, colors and ranges.


I used to wear tall boots when ever I rode, and still prefer them for riding dressage for reasons I'll discuss later. Yard boots are great for chores, getting horses in from muddy pastures and generally bumming around. I go for ultra comfy so it's absolute bliss when I finally get to take my show boots off and slide into my yardies.

Most riders go for the traditional wellie. While the target cute color ones are fun, I go for the L. L. Bean brand (pricier...) because they hold up really well if you treat them right and have stayed really water tight. Taller is better, and make sure your calves don't squish them down, as that will stress the rubber and cause them to crack much faster. Nothing is worse than stepping into a puddle and feeling that cold squish of unexpected leaking boot! I also make an effort to keep mine inside during the winter, as the cold has a similar effect.

Another option, that is really more of an all-purpose boot, is a British style country boot, like my beloved Dublin river or pinnacle boots, or Dubarry boots (the classic!). These boots are pretty darn waterproof, intensely stylish at eventing shows, and generally are pretty darn comfy. Some people ride in them, too.

(12/2/14 update: I talk more about my Dublins here as well.)

Riding boots can be anything from a sturdy pair of tall boots to simple cheap-o paddocks and half chaps. If you haven't ridden with half chaps (I missed that memo for most of my younger life) they're amazing for adding grip, and come in many materials and colors.

I like my plain zip up Ariat paddocks and half chaps that are pretty boring in comparison to some- calf skin and lots of elastic for a nice fit - the only racy thing is that they go in the washer! Love it!

Below is a simple half-chap and paddock combo - and the Mountain Horse Sportive boot - a good example of a tough wearing tall boot that can hold up to every day wear and tear.


Sadly, in my experience, unless you're at a nice, fancy barn where you can stay out of the elements, I've found tall boots just can't stay nice looking as a regular riding boot. I've thus transitioned from wearing tall boots full time to wearing paddocks and half chaps, so I don't wear out the fine zippers on my very expensive tall boots.

There are two types of tall boots - Dress and Field. Dress boots are popular in dressage, but are also acceptable in all other disciplines. Field boots are more traditional fox hunting, jumping and eventing boots, though you will often see higher level eventers ride dressage in dress or dressage boots, as they create a neater line and often dressage specific boots will be stiffer, or boned, to facilitate that amazing quiet dressage leg. Below are three examples, all from Mountain Horse ( I like continuity, and their boots, don't say I didn't mention bias ;) ) from left to right: the MH Firenze Dress Boot, the MH Victoria Dressage boot and the MH Richmond Rider Field Boot. Dressage boots, the center, are sometimes called "stovepipes" because of their stiffness. The Firenze and Richmond Rider show a high spanish top, a current fashion designed to make your leg look longer. I think they look great!


Just for fun, the Richmond Riders on a human being you may recognize:

My singular issue with the Richmonds is the lack of spur rest, but grips help prevent sliding and I like that I can cheat my spurs up or down without the rest being in the way. But still, think about that before you buy, if it's important!


Ok, enough fun. Winter boots are amazing. Again, I have Mountain horses (seriously, I guess I need to get new paddocks and half chaps... I'm pathetic!) but there are many good brands. Many of them are synthetic and are tough to break in, so I would suggest trying until you find something comfortable from the get go that doesn't bruise the back of your leg when you're riding, so test out several leg positions. There are some leather ones out there, but for most snow tramping purposes, I'm going to vote the heavier synthetic types that can take your from bringing in to turning out with a ride in between.

The warmest of the warm, MH Rimfrost Riders (I have the Ice rider) and the Ariat Bromont

**Extremely Biased story ahead**

Its time for it, folks. I was dragged wearing my tall winter boots. The foot is much larger than your slim summer boots, and you don't realize that you are in potential danger until it happens. It got wedged in the stirrup when I came off, and Foxie decided I was dead and headed for the barn, with me sliding along between her back legs. I was extremely lucky to have my father there to catch my horse, and to have a horse who cares about me enough to not step on me. Please, please, please, please consider investing in a pair of these:

They may be dorky, or only "for little kids" but safety stirrups could save your life. I have them on both of my saddles, year round. I have learned to really like the weight for picking my stirrups up when I lose them, and even though I trust my horse with my life, being dragged sucks and it could happen to anyone, at any time.  Please be safe. 

Did I miss anything?

1 comment:

  1. I have peacock stirrups on one of my saddles and a pair of kwik-out stirrups on my other saddle. They don't look "childish" or "silly" and I feel super safe in them. I've never been dragged, but since it can always happen, I feel safest in stirrups I trust.
    Just in case: