Decisions…Decisions…

I know that many of my recent posts have been about gear instead of my comical attempts to learn how to ride. Just bear with me, my instructor was out-of-town last week but I have a lesson on Wednesday and maybe one on Friday as well if I can swing it! So I’m sure I’ll have plenty to entertain you with in the coming days.

I do fervently wish I could ask for your help in selecting a pair of tall boots. I know my readership is too low at this point to expect a response but I will describe what I am thinking and maybe if you’ve read this far you’ll be game to weigh in with a comment.

I currently wear a pair of Ariat® Women’s Heritage Lacer II‘s with the kilties removed and some ProChaps Fit half-Chaps. Throw in some recommissioned soccer socks, and a pair of breeches and the whole ensemble looks like this:  

The whole thing works pretty well considering how hodge-podge the collection really is. But the more I ride the more I can see and feel it might be time for a change. My boots are in pretty good shape with the exception of my laces which I need to replace. This is really a testament to the quality because I have worn these boots for over a year now and I have abused them more than the average rider. I wore these through ankle-high mud several times, wore them through the winter to ride even out in the snow a couple of times a week, and I even wore them through six months of We Can Ride where I walked nearly three miles a night (twice a week). Plus, they weren’t even expensive to begin with. Impressive.

My chaps have done okay, they are getting a little worn, which is really my fault anyways. I could have helped them last a little longer if I loosened my novice death grip from my horse’s sides. Also, they have stretched a bit since I bought them which was to be expected, but they really still work just fine. The incredible deal I got on these when I bought them far outweighs any issue I am having with them. Considering I already feel like I stole them…

I am riding consistently now, at least once a week and although my ragtag system got me through the past year, I have more than one reason to make an investment in some tall boots in the very near future. First and foremost, I have been having trouble with my ankles. I never thought I had weak ankles until I started Dressage. The posting used to kill my legs when I started but now it isn’t so bad. The only time I have an issue now is when I ride Sonny. I am not sure if it has something to do with his saddle, that fact that he is a wide barreled horse,  my knee (3 surgeries on my right knee in high school) or some combination of all three, but whenever I ride him I have trouble with my ankles rolling to the outside while posting the trot. I continue to work on strengthening my ankles because I don’t want to just stuff them in a tall boot to “fix” the problem, but I can’t help but think I would certainly benefit from the support of a stiffer boot.

I have done a lot of reading about tall dress boots but it is still tough for a novice to dig through all of the contradictory reviews. Of course I wish I could just trot right out and drop a grand on a pair of beautiful custom dress boots but it just isn’t in the cards at this point in my life. On the flip side, I fully understand that sometimes you get what you pay for and making an investment in a nice pair of boots might just pay itself off over the life of the boot.

I have thought about maybe getting some field boots instead of dress boots. They are cheaper, look more comfortable, and I really will not be showing anytime soon…if ever. But then I think, why spend that kind of money anyway on something that isn’t even traditionally for the discipline you’ve chosen to pursue? I also have gathered from my research online that field boots are inherently made to offer flexibility of the ankle for jumping. So it seems a little opposite of what I am trying to accomplish by buying tall boots in the first place.

As far as dress boots are concerned, I keep going back and forth on the issue. There are various brands that make lower cost dress boots around the $120-$150 mark. We’ve got the Dublin High Point Zip Dress Boot:

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Then there is the Ovation™ Finalist Dress Boot:

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Don’t they look great? They do in the pictures and I have yet to see any tall boots in person, let alone try any on for size. Then each of those brands has a step up model in the $160-$180 price range as well. I’ve read all the conflicting reviews of these boots online and they only add to my confusion. On the one hand I think to myself: All I will be doing is slogging around in these boots pretending to ride so who cares if I buy these cheap boots for that- they are a perfect fit! Then I think, geez, you’ve paid more than that for a pair of pumps made of nice leather (but obviously vastly less material) so how good can the quality of leather, construction, and fit be on something like this? yeah…

I guess I have made up my mind that I want to go for something on the cheaper end, but not the cheapest end. I would like to find a solid pair of tall dress boots for around the $300 mark, give or take. I can rationalize in my head spending that kind of money, even if I give it all up in a month. Unfortunately, this decision still doesn’t really narrow my choices.

On the lower end of my price range there is the Mountain Horse Ladies Firenze Dress Boot for around $200:

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The Mountain Horse Ladies Sportive High Rider II Riding Boot for around $250:

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A short step up in price offers the Mountain Horse Classic High Rider Dress Boot for a little less than $300:

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And then on the upper end of my price range would be the Ariat Hunter Dress Boot Zip at around $370:

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They are all great boots but how do I decide? They all look like they have slightly different stylings but it is hard to tell the differences in quality from the descriptions even within the same brand. Obviously, it seems like the Mountain Horse boots sit right within my price range and have received pretty good reviews from what I have read. I really do like the Ariat brand and I know they make good quality items but I just can’t afford them. Their cheapest boot is already on the very top end of my price range.

So what’s a girl to do?

Naturally I want to try each and every one of them on and have them all sitting in a nice line in front of me so I can look at them, touch them, and compare them but that is probably not feasible. The tack stores in my area usually don’t carry all of these brands and even if they do, they wont have all of these models in my size.

I suppose one of these days I will get around to ordering one online to try for size but I certainly would welcome the advice if you’ve got any!!!

swl

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