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When competing horses in showjumping, dressage or eventing, it is a requirement that you wear long leather boots. This is partly due to tradition and partly for safety reasons as long leather boots offer more protection and stability. However, many riders (including myself) do their day to day riding using half chaps. These are like the leather full chaps that you see cowboys wear, but start just under the knee rather than at the hip or waist. The thing about half chaps is that they are COMFORTABLE - usually made from tough suede, they offer the support and protection us riders need on our lower leg, but without the stiffness and discomfort often associated with long leather boots. The other thing about half chaps is that they can be worn with any type of short riding boot so you can use your most comfortable pair of short boots and just pop on a pair of half chaps and off you go.
But I do a lot of competing so, on a competition day, the half chaps have to go and instead I have to don a pair of long riding boots. Not my favourite item of riding wear. So I set about finding a pair that I liked. Not easy! Most of the long boots are of a certain type which looks very very elegant but doesn't really suit my tastes. The soles are generally quite thin and I like a thicker sole for riding.
My favourite brand of day to day short riding boots are Mountain Horse (see my other reviews on their footwear products) so I was delighted to discover that they also made some competition boots. These boots are like a posh, refined version of their 'normal' boots, made to remain in keeping with the distinctive Mountain Horse style, yet suitable to be worn for competition.
Long leather boots can often be very uncomfortable when you first wear them (this applies to any boot not just riding boots). These however are incredibly comfortable when you first put them on. This is due in part to the softness of the leather but mostly I think they are this comfortable immediately thanks to the extra padding around the ankles. This is an area where the leather will always crease and if it is stiff leather, can create painful pressure points. The leather here is soft and padded and totally avoids that horrible 'new boot' feel.
----- Features -----
Elastic material inserts along the calf for improved individual fitting.
Full length leather walls along the zip to prevent from chafing and to protect your saddle.
Removable EVA insole with shock absorbing pads.
Forged steel shank for stability.
Stirrup control system built into the sole to help maintain stirrup position.
The padding around the ankle along with shock absorbing pads in the heel and ball parts of the insole help to make this boot comfortable to walk in as well as ride. They have a sturdy zip to make getting into and out of the boots easy. The sole is thicker than you will find on a lot of long leather riding boots but this is a big part of what appeals to me about them as I do like a good thick sole for riding in. This also makes walking in them better as they don't feel every stone or lump and bump in the ground as much as a traditional riding boot does. It also gives them a slightly more rugged appearance than your traditional Italian style long boot and, although this doesn't appeal to everyone, it definitely appeals to me.
In practise it's not possible to use competition boots solely for riding - when we are showjumping we have to walk the course first as well as generally walking about to the show secretary, or tending to the horse etc, and these boots are fine for all of this. I would draw the line at walking a cross-country course in them though (usually 1.5 - 2 miles) because, comfortable as they may be, they are not what you want to be wearing for marching through fields in all weathers. So for this I do change back into walking boots.
I clean these boots mostly just using a damp cloth and they come up fine. Every few uses I clean them with saddle soap and this brings them up looking almost good as new.
My only gripe would be that the zip, although sturdy, does not stand the test of time. The zip went on one of my boots after a year or so and I had it replaced at a cost of £25. Friends have also had their zip go on these boots and, as they are not getting excessive use since they are only used for competition, this is not really ideal. I would probably give them 4.5 stars because of that, but with no half stars available I will give them the benefit of the doubt and rate them as a 5.
Cost: about £150.
Easily the most comfortable long leather riding boots I have ever worn.
(Review will also appear on Ciao)