*I apologize for the novella, but I feel that if someone is making a very expensive purchase like custom boots, they need to know the potential risks they face when choosing a brand.
As a vertically challenged rider (a whopping 5 feet tall), I have struggled throughout my showing career to find anything from show coats to tall boots that fit the way they are supposed to. Two years ago, I was thrilled to purchase a pair of custom tall boots that actually fit me! I had gotten by for years with boots that I had purchased and then altered, but they always looked kind of silly. So I saved up for a long time and figured that if I was going to go full custom, I was going to go with my dream boots: Der Daus.
When I was being fitted, I was nervous as I noted that he height that was being written down on the form was taller than my actually measured height. I inquired about the discrepancy, and was assured that the added height was to account for the natural drop of the boots. I even decided to go for the rubber panels on the inside of the boots, so that it would be like having permanent saddle stick on! When I go to place my order, my total was a LOT higher than I expected it to be… But I figured I splurged on the rubber panels so I should have expected the increase in price.
When my boots arrived, I immediately was taken aback by how beautiful they were! They looked exactly how I had imagined them. But when I went to go but them on… It was a different story. First, I noticed that the foot was too big for my size 6.5 foot. I figured, “Hey, I can always buy a little insole!” Then, I went to go zip them up, and realized that they were too tall (Like could not bend my knees at all tall). But then I said to myself, “They are going to drop. They are going to drop. Breathe.” So, I did, and began the process of breaking them in.
As I broke them in, I found that they were very comfortable to ride in, but they never seemed to drop as much as they were supposed to, so I always had blisters on the back of my knees. Then, I realized that they were too baggy in the ankle (I attributed it to the rubber panels) and my ankles were also covered in blisters. But I loved my boots, so I stuck with them through one summer of showing. In less than one year of (what I would consider) light use, the rubber panels on the boots were ripped and falling apart. I knew this wasn’t my fault, as I diligently took care of the boots after every ride.
Finally, I had enough and in August 2014 (one year after purchase) I sent them back to Der Dau for new rubber panels and to be taken in around the ankle and lowered below the knee. The customer service was very nice, but I still wasn’t thrilled to be sending back my virtually brand-new boots for repair. When I got them back, I was happy to see that all of the repairs looked great and now they fit much better!
Flash forward to this past June. I had been showing again and therefore using my boots more. I realized that the snaps at the top of the zipper had stopped snapping shut, but it wasn’t much of a problem because the zipper stayed up. NOT TO MENTION the very newly repaired rubber panels had ripped apart again. Then in July, as I was putting the boots on to show, the zipper on the left boot broke. Like the teeth broke off, and even the actual zipper came apart from where it was stitched to the leather. I ALWAYS made sure not to walk around with them half-zipped and put them away with good boot trees to avoid this kind of travesty.
I made do with electrical tape for the rest of the show, but I was going to KY in a week and didn’t have time to get them to Der Dau and back by then. So my trusty friends at the local tack shop saved the day with their contact and got my boots repaired just in time. The woman who repaired them said that the zippers were in awful shape especially for being so new, and that she was surprised that such low-quality zippers were put on such high-quality boots. She suggested I call Der Dau for a reimbursement for the repair. I called Der Dau, and they said that they would not reimburse me for the replacement because it was not done by one of their people. Even after I explained why I couldn’t wait for their services, they would not budge with their company policy.
I would not ever buy these boots again, or ever work with this company. The quality of their boots has tanked in the last decade, and I have been frustrated with their product since the moment I purchased them. I will make do with what I have now, but when they fall apart beyond repair (and I’m sure they will soon), I will DEFINITELY not be buying another pair, nor will I recommend them to anybody else.