“Mom, your horse boots are falling apart!”
“Yes I know, but there aren’t any places in the South County to purchase new ones.”
Alas! I saw the billboard for Riding Warehouse in San Luis Obispo and found myself driving down Suburban Road and found the showroom. Yay! New Ariat Paddock boots for me!
When I was younger we clunked around in those tall English boots to work around the horses and to ride, and show . . . erg . . . and mine were rubber which made them even worse, as the sweat and heat built up in them. It was like graduating, to move into real-leather tall boots. Then along came “muckers” – a rubber sole with leather upper ankle boot – which were the first step towards paddock boots for the English Rider.
Paddock boots are so versatile and comfy. They provide the protection one needs when working around horses, yet are versatile enough to wear both around the barn and for everyday riding. Just slip on some half-chaps over your paddock boots and breeches and you are ready to ride. Of course tall boots are expected in the show ring – unless you have cute braids ending in bows (or are the counterpart, handsomely wearing a tie) and riding a pony, then your paddock boots with jodhpurs double as show boots.
Since the tack store in the quaint village of Arroyo Grande left the scene a few years ago, English riding boots are harder to come by in south SLO county. Thankfully Riding Warehouse in San Luis Obispo has options for the English rider as well as Whitehorse Tack and Veterinary Supply in Paso Robles.
Most Popular English Riding Boot in SLO County
So what is the most popular English boot in San Luis Obispo County? This question was asked of Brie at Riding Warehouse and of Lisa at Whitehorse Tack and Veterinary Supply. Ariat is the top seller at both stores in SLO county, with both ladies commenting that they are a good value for the money with a mid-range price tag, a quality product and many options.
Tall English boots come in two basic styles: Dress – smooth with no ties, and Field – has ties at the front of the ankle.
Field Boots vs Dress Boots
“Field boots are more popular than Dress boots,” remarked Brie of Riding Warehouse, “they give riders more of a custom fit. However the trend is moving back to Dress boots.”
Lisa had another viewpoint regarding Dress boots vs. Field boots. “Way back when, Dress boots were the only boot one would show in especially in an A circuit Hunter/Jumper show. Now Field boots, which used to be considered “informal” are the only boot to show in at the A circuit level. Dressage has always remained formal and a Dress boot is only seen (except on the rare child) in all levels there.”
Those Zippers . . .
The ties on a Field boot make the boot easier to pull on and allow for adjustment of fit around the ankle. Lisa feels that a zipper is not necessary for field boots yet today all Field boots come with zippers down the back.
“Zippers tend to break,” Lisa remarked, “I get a lot of returns for broken zippers. So I tell my customers to have black duct tape on hand incase the zipper breaks at a show; that way they can keep showing. Or one can always have two pairs of boots on hand!” Lisa continued talking about zippers in tall boots and went on to say, “Dress boots without zippers are very rare these days. Today’s boot provides instant comfort, no struggle required and no break in period, however they are not as hearty as the boots of the past and don’t last as long as they used to.”
Both Lisa and Brie mentioned that zippers are popular with paddock boots because of the ease of getting into the boot. One does give up a tighter fit with a zipper. Paddock boots tend to be a repeat purchase compared to the tall boots due to the level of wear the paddock boots get.
Paddock boots come up just past the ankle and are more widely used than Dress or Field boots as they are more versatile. Ariat is again a top seller. However, says Brie, “Tuff Rider boots are quite popular with the kids as their price point is lower, but they are still a quality boot. Some women also really like Tuff Rider boots.”
Take Care of Your Boots
Brie mentioned that riders (probably of all disciplines) do not care for their boots like they care for their tack. “They clean and condition their tack, but they don’t do the same thing for their boots.” Brie recommends using a waterproof leather conditioner on your boots. “Or even switch out of your boots for different chores like when bathing or rinsing off the horse.”
I think that is why my paddock boots got to be looking so ragged that even my kids said I needed a new pair. On the other hand though, I have had my Dress show boots for 34 years!![Main Photo: Sharon Jantzen]
Product photos courtesy of Riding Warehouse