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I do a fair amount of riding and when you're in the saddle for a couple of hours a day, it is an absolute must to have boots in which your feet are comfortable.
I like a boot to be quite chunky with a good sole, as well as supportive - particuarly around the ankle. In addition to this they must be waterproof as there is nothing worse than soggy feet which then stay soggy for hours.
I have found that Mountain Horse boots fit my feet really well and have tried several of their different styles, of which there are many. The ones I am reviewing today are the Mountain Rider II which is a slightly updated version of the original.
----- Materials -----
The upper is made from a thick, robust leather and there is an 'ergonomically designed removable EVA insole' which has shock absorbing pads in the heel and ball of the foot. They are lined with a soft 'Nylx' lining which is basically a kind of mesh to stop your feet from sweating. There is also a built in forged steel shank for increased rigidity and stability whilst walking or riding. The ankle has extra padding around it and the boots are marketed as completely waterproof
----- Comfort -----
These are lovely, comfortable boots. The ankle padding is a nice touch and they are padded both around the collar of the boot and also a little lower down at the sides of the ankle. This is very helpful as when riding horses your ankles are usually flexed and they take a lot of the strain as we absorb the movement of the horse through having our own joints soft and flexible, particularly the knees, ankles and hips. Therefore having support and padding at the ankle is certainly noticeable and appreciated when riding. The boots are sturdy and give a feeling of support. When walking in them, the padded and shaped insole is also noticeable and, when I first put these on they really did feel extremely comfortable and supportive. However......
----- Durability -----
I tend to use these boots more during the warmer months, as they are not particularly built for warmth. This is not to say that they don't get wet though, not only do we obviously get plenty of rain whatever the time of year, but also when it's hot, the horses always need washing off immediately after riding. This, as you can imagine, involves the rider getting a fair amount of washing off too - after years and years of practise I still haven't mastered the art of washing off my horses without getting my feet soaking wet! So the waterproofing ability of these boots was well and truly tested. When I first wore the boots I was really impressed with their ability to keep my feet dry even when I had totally soaked the boots. They remained comfortable and waterproof for about ....... oh a month or two maybe? Hmm. This is where it starts to go downhill.
I do take care of my boots, keep them clean and from time to time apply a waterproofing spray. But I am not fanatical about it - I don't have the time or the inclination to spend ages caring for boots and, if I pay good money for them I do expect them to take care of themselves to some extent. These failed dismally on that front. After only a couple of months the leather started cracking and water was definitely getting through to my feet. A few months after that and the upper is coming away from the sole in a few places, as well as the leather looking very cracked, worn and tired. Unfortunately I have found this to be the norm with Mountain Horse boots - extremely comfortable and wonderfully supportive as well as waterproof, but only for a while.
This deterioration has made them far less comfortable, they are no longer a dream to walk on and the soles are not as supportive as they were. I don't feel I've had them long enough, or used them often enough for them to have worn this badly. And they weren't cheap either, which brings me onto.....
----- The Price -----
I can't remember exactly how much I paid for these, I think it was about £80. Looking around now, I see they are for sale for anything between £70 and £100, mostly at around £90. For this price, if they are reasonably well looked after, I would expect them to last and to be waterproof for far longer than it turned out.
All in all this is very disappointing as they are lovely boots and would get a 5-star rating from me without any hesitation, based on what they were like for the first few weeks. But I don't feel I can give them any more than 3 stars as they are made first and foremost for riding, a riding boot is going to receive a good amount of wear and tear, and in my opinion they should stand up to this way way better than they do.
I would love to get another pair but there's no way I can justify getting any more at that price, they simply do not last long enough for me.
(Also posted on Ciao)