I have new boots. They’re very handsome tall field boots that I waited a long time to buy, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll never have to buy another pair unless they get stolen off my feet, and that’s unlikely since getting them on and off is damn-near impossible.
The boot story…
My mom bought my first pair of riding boots for me about 8 years ago. They were sweet little Somerset short field boots and fit like a glove. I loved them and have worn them at least 2 days a week since 2001. They still look good. The leather is very soft and comfy, but the heels are worn down to a nub. They deserve retirement, no doubt about it.
Deciding to go for tall boots this time around was a matter of logic. A few years ago, I’d started wearing half chaps with my old short boots. The extra leg coverage helped me keep a grip on the tack and provided a bit more support to my ankles. I figured that tall boots would eliminate the need for my old ratty-looking chaps and give me one less thing to keep up with. Besides, tall boots are serious (at least they look serious) and I was ready to have that kind of relationship with my riding apparel.
So, for months now I’ve been looking. When I was in Ireland over the holidays, I looked …€€€€; at a nice local tack shop, I looked…still big $$$$. Then I started looking online, knowing that buying shoes before I tried them on could be very disappointing; but, I took the risk and found a nice pair that fit my budget and would hopefully fit my feet and legs as well.
The boots arrived in just a few days. They were beautiful. That black leather was so smooth and clean. I measured the soles of my old boots to the new ones and it was a perfect match. I checked all the leg and ankle measurements. Everything looked like I couldn’t have a better fit.
Then, the moment of truth.
I slid my right foot down to the bottom of the shaft where that “perfect fit” came to an abrupt end. No amount of pulling or pushing was going to get my foot past the ankle bend. No amount of cussin’ was going to make it go either. And I knew that even if I did get my foot in, I’d still have to get it out eventually, which I didn’t think I could do by myself. Still, I didn’t want to give it up; and a few days later I took the boots to a tack shop and left them to be stretched at the ankle.
When I went back to pick up the boots, I also bought a can of boot slide, a jug of leather conditioner, a pair of heavy-duty boot pulls, and a wooden boot jack. I got home with the boots and laid them out along with the accompanying paraphernalia. Just in case, I made sure my neighbors were home so if I ran into trouble I’d have someone to call for help. I proceeded with cautious optimism.
I can’t say it was effortless, but I did get the boots on and off with the help of the pulls and the jack as well as a generous application of boot slide. Walking in them is a whole different challenge. It’s going to take weeks to break them in and really enjoy wearing them. But I’m pretty sure that as long as I can get them on and off, I can break them in eventually.
The whole new-boot experience has worn me out and I haven’t even made it to the barn in them yet. I’d try to make this a learning experience if I thought I might have to buy another pair sometime in the future; but for now, this is the last pair of tall boots I ever intend to buy.
As for the last pair I’ll ever wear, let’s just say I’m glad I saved my good old Somersets and chaps.