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Tall boots that last

I’ve been hanging around the forums for a while, but I’ve never really had a reason to post until now. Anyways, I just started the whole English thing around a year ago and I could use some advice on tall boots that actually last.

Right now I have Ariat Heritage boots, but despite me babying the darn things they started developing holes on month three, and now they’ve gotten bad enough that they’re almost ready to trash :no: They’re just not worth patching. I’m riding 2-4 horses 5 times a week and I need boots that can actually hold up to a few hours in the saddle. I know pro’s ride far more a day than I do, so good boots have to be out there somewhere :lol: It doesn’t matter if they’re field boots or dress boots, they’ll only be used for schooling. I already had to get a show pair (Ariat Challenges) for IHSA after my other boots were too far gone to pass my trainer’s approval.

I’m willing to spend some money up front for boots that I won’t have to replace every year or two, and I’d prefer to stay away from Ariats if at all possible. Their western boots went from lasting years to having to be replaced every 8ish months, and so far I’m seeing the same with their tall boots.

Any advice would be appreciated, even if it’s just what boots not to get!

Thanks in advance.

I’m very disappointed with the quality of Ariats these days compared with 10+ years ago. I bought a new pair 3 years ago to replace a pair I bought 12 years prior that were beginning to look a bit ratty at the top. after 2 years, the newer boots started looking worse than the ones they were supposed to replace!

I’m sure they have some boots that are better wearing, but most likely they are at a much higher price point.

Can you get away with paddock boots and half chaps?

I’ve got a whole wardrobe of Ariat riding boots, field boots and paddocks, and they are holding up fine. I wonder if Ariat has quality control issues, so that some batches are fine, some are not? I do notice that if my boots start to wear, it is on the inside of the foot, where I contact the side of the stirrup. I also made an effort to keep my field boots out of the barn work.

Can you wear paddocks and half chaps, as the OP suggests? I find my Ariat H20 paddock boots are holding up well, they fit in the stirrup. I do barn work, wash horses, and ride in them with a half chap. By comparison, I destroyed Blundstones in one year doing the same.

Now, a really nice pair of paddock boot and half chaps does add up to almost as much as a pair of field boots. But half chaps are something that you can buy second hand much more safely than a boot, as they haven’t gone on anyone’s foot to be sweated and stretched out! And often people order the wrong size for their calf, and then sell them on.

I like Ariats for the foot bed. The Blundstones ended up making my feet chronically sore. I’ve been wary of Ariat hearing all the horror stories about low quality, but they’ve performed fine for me so far. So I haven’t explored other boot options.

Thank you! Paddocks are allowed for schooling, so I’ll look into it. Being able to find good ones used is also a plus!

Do half chaps feel different than tall boots? I’ve heard they change your eq and that’s what I’m worried about…

Ariat’s batches could very well be inconsistent. I’ve just put holes in the sole and leather of my last few western pairs, and with the disaster these tall boots have been I figure it’s time to start looking elsewhere, you know? I didn’t really have a choice with my western boots, but there’s so many English brands available around me I can actually find stuff other than Ariats.

I wear men’s polo boots, they were $200 on Amazon. Completely indestructible: heavy-duty brass zipper, double thick leather, thick rubber sole. I have a wide foot and wide calf, and prefer men’s sneakers, as well.

Menswear is usually made better than womenswear, and often costs less. So unfair.

They looked crazy until they were broken in, just super-stiff and bulky, but now that they’ve molded to my legs, I get compliments all the time on my “fetch” brown boots.

I’ve only ever had Ariat paddock boots and they were all pure poo! 18 months of real work, tops.

For years, I also burned through tall boots like an arsonist through a firecracker factory. I vastly prefer to ride in my field boots, but I will never, EVER, buy a cheap brand again.

Zippers 2-3 times a year. Holes in calf after 6 months. Even, famously, showing a horse I’d been flown in to ride while feeling the toe seam come apart with each step. By the time we were done the hack, that boot was just a flap covering my pedicure!

I now own two pairs of tall boots:

  1. fully custom Der Dau field boots. Age 3.5 years. Approx $1,800 CDN ($1,350 USD). THE MOST COMFORTABLE boots I’ve ever owned, and also by far the best wearing! Best of all, I met with our local rep this fall and he took them away, completely refurbished them (holes fixed, zippers cleaned, re-heeled, re-soled, re-dyed) and returned them in three weeks for $300. They look brand spanking new!!!

  2. Tucci Monteverdi off the rack. Age 14 months. Got these puppies from Blueberry Hill on a “friends and family” discount for about $900 CDN ($670 USD) and they fit almost as well as the custom Ders. These are my winter riding boots, as well as my muddy/cold day show boots. I wear them in snow, mud, to the wash rack, while mucking stalls…and so far, not a single mark on them to complain about. The zippers are solid. No wear holes in the calf. Seams are prima.

For tall boots on a budget, I STRONGLY recommend the Tucci brand.

Hmmm. “Budget” is clearly a relative term :). I got my older Ariat Heritage and my newer, just breaking-in Challenge (both the discontinued models, not the current ones) for under $200 each, Canadian, on sale/closeout. I want to say closer to $150, even.

I don’t know if half-chaps would affect someone’s riding. Mine do feel different from boots, they are softer, more like just wearing leather pants might feel! But there are also more constructed half chaps, that are built like real boot tops.

I’ve also thought that if the feet on a pair of my field boots finally fell apart while the top part and zipper was in good shape, I could go to a shoe repair shop or saddle repair person, get the feet cut off, and have them made into half chaps!

I don’t myself find that my riding changes any, whether I am in tall boots, half chaps, or just riding in paddock boots and breeches. Every once in a while, that happens. Maybe you could borrow some for a test ride to see?

I would be contacting ariat for a refund if they are 3 months old. To me holes are absolutely a quality issue.

If you know your measurements I’d hunt ebay for lightly used boots. I see old style Dehners on there fairly often for next to nothing. Those things wear like iron (mine were 25 years old when I bought them).

Scribbler, I’m asshat at math, so please correct my sums at will.

Here’s my best ROI calculation, because I do agree that budget is a relative term…

Ariat Heritage Contour - $419 CDN / 6 months good wear = 69.85/month

Fully custom Der Dau - $1800 / 3.5 YEARS = 42.86/month

Tucci - $950 / 14 months = $68/month

My Ariats didn’t make six months of wear, (indeed, I’ve paid $160 - $40/boot - on zipper replacements so far) so they are fully eliminated from the running. And funny enough, they are the most expensive,

Sometimes, you truly get what you pay for.

Dehner boots last forever. You can sometimes find used pairs on EBay or order custom.

Must be the batch. My Dehners have been great and not great. Vogels got holes in the ankles (on the leather creases), but the rest of the boot was perfect. Love my Ariat paddock boots. The have many miles. I do wear rubbers on them in wet weather and take great care of them.

I have a pair of Petries that are 12 years old, new soles several times and I had a zipper put in. I’d think a pair of used Petries would be a good deal.

DarkBay, yes, your figures look reasonable!

I’d agree, if the Ariats only lasted 6 months, they are rubbish!

I paid about $150 CAN for my Ariat Heritage (on sale), and they are showing wear but holding up OK at 6 years old. I did replace both zippers, at different times. I paid $150 for my replacement Ariat Challenge on close out from Greenhawk four years back, and just started breaking them in this year in case the Heritage have a fatal collapse.

I agree, the current full prices on Ariat in CAN $ are very high.

I also switch over to H20 insulated paddock boots for the winter, so my field boots haven’t been getting 12 full months of wear, maybe more like 7 or 8 per year?

Also I realize both my pairs of Ariat field boots are out of production now. The current Heritage is leather lined in the shaft (mine isn’t) and full retail is a lot more. Full retail on the Heritage was I think about $270? when I bought them in 2010. The Challenge were on close out four years ago as the current models were coming in. So it’s possible that the current models have taken an even bigger hit in consistent quality control. Plus they are a lot more expensive. Not a great business model, obviously.

Dehners original cost about about $850, now 26 years and still going strong. That’s $32 per year and $2.72 per month. Sometimes it does pay to invest. Cleaned after each ride and stored with wooden trees. Never left laying around muddy or sweaty or wet. You do have to take care of your investments…

[INDENT]My go-to for daily boots is Mountain Horse. I buy a pair every 2 years or so, which is ridiculous, but boots these days are not made to last. Right now I am wearing the Venice model. They are inexpensive, look good, and are great for daily wear. I ride 1-2 horses 5-6 times a week. I don’t take fantastic care of them, but where they wear out is due to usage, not breaking down. They clean up well and in a pinch I can show in them.

For showing I have some boots made for me when I was in Argentina that are fabulously tough- like the way all boots used to be- fully lined, thick leather, gorgeous details, and they were under $400. Had I known how awesome they would turn out I would have bought another pair for daily wear, because I am sure that I’d be able to wear them forever.

It depends on the stiffness/flexibility of the half chaps and tall boots as to whether they feel noticeably different. For example, some tall boots are thicker and stiffer, and some are soft and supple. The same is true for half chaps. If you move from stiffer tall boots to soft half chaps, then yes, it will feel different. I actually prefer the feeling of half chaps, as it allow me to feel my horse’s movement a bit better. Some people prefer stiffer tall boots, as it “cements” their position a bit. I believe dressage boots are often this way. The Ariat half chaps that are meant to look like tall boot tops were pretty thick in the past, and IMO feel more like tall boots. Maybe some other posters can give more examples of newer chaps that are stiffer or more flexible. As to whether half chaps will hurt your EQ, you might not feel as secure at first, but with correct riding, your muscles should take over for the boots.

You might see if you can find older (used) Ariats on Ebay or FB. The quality from years ago was quite good and they tend to be inexpensive. I have a couple pairs that were my show and then my schooling boots that are probably 10 years old and they would still polish up and look perfectly fine. There is nothing structurally wrong with them at all.

With the trend toward “leather socks” - the beautifully soft, molded-to-your-leg look that has been popular in recent years, the durability of field boots has generally declined. Back when I first started showing hunters, breaking in a new pair of boots (Vogels, at the time) was a long and fairly painful process - they were beautiful, but pretty darn stiff. Once they broke in, they were fabulous though. And I have a pair that I rode in daily (including grooming, wash rack etc, but with good care) that are still in excellent condition today, over 20 years later. If only they were not (by today’s standards) too short, I could easily show in them. Ditto for my old Dehners.

So right now it looks like the best option will be to find some older higher end boots, thanks everyone! I’d love to get custom Dehners or Der Daus, but that’ll have to be a post college treat. I could swing $600/$700 for new boots if it’ll save a few hundred in the long run, but custom is a little beyond me now. Hopefully someone else’s old ones will fit.

Does anyone have any experience with De Niro boots? Do they wear as well as Dehners, Der Daus or Petries?

I clean my boots at the end of the day and store them with trees in a clean boot bag, so hopefully that’ll keep actual quality boots in good condition.

A couple of things:

If they have holes after less than a year, you totally should complain. Dover will take them back if they came from there. If not, contact your retailer or Ariat. That’s ridiculous.

I think Ariat may have quality issues and I think also they have multiple lines at different price points. The Cobalts have held up well for me… but they are expensive boots. My first pair of Ariats lasted 20 years between me and my daughter… and are still usable, if not pretty. My daughter hiked the Mist Trail in Yosemite in them when they were well into their teens (and older than her).

Holes in the calf suggest issues well out of your control. However, if you don’t know to do this, I do suggest taking your boots off right at the end of your ride, and never washing horses in them, walking in mud or wet sand as few steps as possible.

Also, I assume you know that you don’t clean boots like a saddle - brush off dirt, don’t use conditioner, use just a wee bit of water and castile soap, and keep them polished on the foot and the outside (not against the saddle). Polish is water and dirt repellent.

Paddock boots and half chaps are more versatile, if for no other reason that a pair of half chaps will last indefinitely and the paddock boots are easier to replace.

My daughter has Tredstep boots that are very pretty and they weren’t expensive. Someone else will have to give you more information about how well they wear under heavy use.

If you can find older used boots that are close, you may be able to have them altered or resoled or whatever is needed.

I used to get 5+ years out of any boots with heavy use. Of course, as Lucassb says, they were evil to break in. Today’s kids (including mine) are spoiled and expect soft leather from the first ride… :lol: and that’s what they’re selling now. I believe if you buy custom, you can still get the heavier leathers and fully lined that would hold up.