Thursday, August 19, 2010

Discriminating or demented?

Often in life I have said "Horses are not a hobby they are a way of life." For some of us they are. We live, breathe and think of everything for the horse. We often overlook things for ourselves in order to provide the best we can afford for our horses. It's craziness I tell ya. Pure craziness. But where does it stop?

A few years ago at the Scottsdale Arabian show I was introduced to the magic of orthotics. The $250 price was a bit steep for something that was off the shelf and not custom made so I passed. I found a store brand for a much cheaper price $10 and gave them a shot. They made a huge difference in a lot of things for me. My knees, hips and lower back no longer ached and I could stand for long periods of time again. It really gave me a good sense of insight into how a horse feels and moves when they are trimmed right and all the hoof angles are correct.

Lately I have been looking online for a new pair of boots. My current pair are seriously on their way out. I was looking at a few of the different websites and I happened to notice something. A lot of the boots are not 'balanced' looking. The toe sticks up a bit, the inside of the boot where the ball of the foot sits, is up or down and visa-versa on the outside... leaving the impression that the foot bed is twisted. Some of the boots it was really obvious, others more subtle, but it was still there.

My main question here is this. Knowing how much information is out there, how much has gone into studying the effects of how a horse is trimmed and/or shod and how it affects their soundness... Do the boot companies seriously NOT think we would apply the same balance issues to our own footwear?

I really like the looks of this boot

in roughout leather and if it weren't for the fact that mine would only look this nice for a short time, I may be so inclined to buy a pair. But this is a great example of what I am talking about. On the left hand side of the screen, (in the link) there is alternate views of these boots, scroll over them to view. The 3rd one down shows the boots from the front.

Look at the foot bed and notice how it seems to sit higher on the inside and lower on the outside? Go to the 5th one down, a view of the back of the boot. Look at the foot bed and how it sits in comparison to the shaft & heel of the boot.

Put a ruler up to the computer screen if you need to or scroll down and use the bottom of the screen as your straight line for a guide. Notice anything else? Like the narrow width of the heel area and how the shaft seems to widen out more...

Even the Ariat's in the $50-$100 price range seem to do this. The outside of the foot bed seems to sag and the inside tilts up.

At least this pair is straight through the heel area and the shaft of the boot.

The Durango's at $100, also had the same twisted problem and the outside of the boot seems to 'blow out' and lack some support.

There was one pair I liked until I looked closely at the heel of the boot. It was wedged towards the toe. Kind of like putting a wedge pad on a horse who doesn't seem to grow enough heel. In the horses' case you do it to balance things out and raise their comfort level. In the case of the boots, I'm not sure I have heard of anyone yet who can't grow enough heel to stand correctly balanced. ???

click on the picture for the whole thing.

I also like this pair of Justin's for $120, but from the front- same thing.

Then there's these boots for $170- same thing.

They are kinda fun and funky looking. With the right outfit... whatever that may be?

Nice thing about Sheplers, you can shop by price range. I looked through the boots listed in the $200-$300 and Over $300 price ranges. I can honestly say there were quite a few boots that caught my eye and made me think Wow! and a few other things too. But not so much in a good way or because I liked them.

Now I realise, these are only photos of one boot. I also realize camera angles may either play up or down the intensity of the amount of 'twist' in the actual boot photographed. The pair you try on and buy, may not be 'tweaked' like the boot in the photos. But unless you look at them closely in the store when you try them on- maybe they are all like that. To the boot makers- if this is the best you have- why take photos like this of your work? Not a good way of representing your company, is it? Are the footwear companies making their boots & shoes this way to help other businesses along? My ________ aches so I will seek comfort through chiropractors, pain meds, etc..... Do they hope we buy unbalanced for our own feet, yet we expect balanced feet for our horses?

Where our own comfort and 'soundness' comes into play, our shoes make a huge difference in how we stand, how our weight is distributed and how long before we sit down complaining of soreness, achy joints and "Oh my aching feet!" Equine events are usually known for long hours of standing around, miles of walking to the trailer, concession stands, entry booth, bathrooms, the in gate, stand on the rail during the class, run up to the judges stand, back and forth, back and forth and it never fails, whenever you need to get to one- it is at the other end of the showgrounds from where you are. The right pair of shoes will either make or break you day. Keep that in mind the next time your farrier comes out to trim or shoe your horse.


  1. wooo! FIRST

    OK.... so....

    The good founders of Ariat were pioneers for sure. I remember when they first came out, how revolutionary. And to be sure, my Ariat paddock boots are comfy enough that I can hike in them.

    My problem is weight, old knee surgeries, and I think some bone spurs starting in my heels.

    BUT... my sister has some Skechers Shape Ups. She's on her feet all day at the vet clinic, concrete floor, and about 10 years ago was in a car wreck that shattered her femur, cracked and dislocated her other hip, plus she's had a greenstick fracture in one leg (from stepping off a step while swinging a heavy backpack up to her shoulder!) and Dad slipped and fell when carrying her downstairs as a baby, breaking her other leg.

    So she really is my go-to person for comfy shoe advice!

    The Skechers are AWESOME for taking all the pressure off your heel and knees!! I wore them around the house for an evening, and it was like magic. My Birkenstocks, Chacos, Merrels, Clarks, Danskos and Eccos aren't even this comfy. Unfortunately you can't ride in a shoe with... um... negative heel.

    As for horses, it's amazing how a good farrier can glance at your horse's hooves and magically know that he favors the left lead, and other esoteric things.

    My horse has ringbone. The two farriers I've used so far have been really good at explaining stuff to me, and keeping him sound in that leg. He wears shoes up front, none in the back, and goes best that way.

    I go better in shoes, too....

    Oddly, though, these boots are pretty comfy:

  2. What western boots are in style in the show ring these days, anyway?

  3. I have a pair of Ariat lace up (barn boots ) kind of a combo between a hiker and a runner) love em, that are great for walking and riding , but would look stupid in a show. Twisted X makes some decent boots as well, and the slip on shoes are awsome I can stand all day in them.Actual boots I have to try them on (I usually do when I am tired ansd my feet already hurt , so I know if they are going to nail my presdsure points . As it is for horses "no hoof no horse " It is for horse people as well no foot ...

  4. Being an ex boot seller myself, I have to say that boots are built to give balance, and are contructed as you have out it at an angle because of the way they are designed to fit in the stirrup.

    Also, out of all the boots you listed, the only one of any quality are the Ariats and Justins. The first one looked like Old West to me, which have no quailty at all to them. Durangos are the same way, they are built really cheap and will not last. So for your money, it is best to go with the Ariat, Justin, Tony, Double H. I personally wear Ariats all day at work and also ride in them. Double H are a really good work boot/ride boot too.

    Also, dont shop for boots online. They fit entirely different than shoes, and you need an expert to help you pick the correct style/size for your feet and your depends for the boot. The worst thing you can do is buy them online, get them home, think that they fit when they actually dont, than wear them and make your feet suffer, than blame the boots/company for the lack of fit.

    I can discuss things further with you if you wish, on what a proper fit should be and some good brands/styles for your needs if you want. My email is

    current in-ring style is a wide square toe and leather sole.

  5. CP- I used to have a pair of Skechers a loooong time ago. I liked them then and probably still would now. I just don't buy many pairs of tennies anymore. I also like the Avia's, but as with a lot of them- I go outside and do things with the horses and they all end up smelling like horse...

    FV- the one pair of Twisted X that I used the photo of seems kinda fun. I haven't really heard of them before, just thought they looked interesting.

    PHM- The roughout boots are Old Wests'. Good eye there!

    I have been looking online to find something I like at a reasonable price. There is a Shepler's and Saba's nearby that I was going to go to, to look at the boots, try them on and (hopefully) find what I need. Then either order them online or buy them at the store depending on the price. (We all want a good deal, right?)

    I like the Ariats and the Justins, roper styles- obviously... The ropers I had before, I had to put the orthotics in. I was miserable otherwise. Even have a pair of them in my tall dress boots for showing English. Any info on those? Which brands are better than others and worth the money or not?

    If you would like to do a guest post on the topic of boot fit, I would be more than happy to put it up. I don't know it all and on some things, I may just know enough to be dangerous. lol

  6. Okay, I really like the Ariat Legend. I don't much care for the pro babys or fat babys. I like my old Justin ropers, but they are dying. Splitting out the sides, the foot of the boots that are exposed look a dusty grey green, if you pull up my pant leg to see the top of the foot and the shaft, you can see they were once a lovely teal green. Very sad looking boots.

  7. my twisted X shoes

    love these
    both are great for walking or standing , if the boots are any thing near as good I would love them . I can't get them here any more so order them throught the company that I linked to , but I had already tried these , boots I have to try on first

  8. I got my first 3 pairs of (cheap) boots right before the whole Roper look took over. I think they just look..... inelegant. Some of the Fatbabys at least have a sort of punk rock charm to them, but I too will always prefer the older, "pointy" styles with beautiful stitching.
    I love lacers, too, because my ankles swell.

    How is the quality of Champion Attitude (I think) custom/semi custom boots? I've built & rebuilt some lacers with a j toe and Cuban heel on their site just for fun. I think.....

  9. I have been in boot heaven since I discovered Boulet. If you have high arches you would love them too. It's been seldom that I find a boot, or high heel for that matter, that actually supports my high arch. They are under the $200 mark too.

    I thought my Lucchases were comfortable, but they aren't even close to the Boulet.

    However, I can't afford to wear through a pair of fine boots every few months, so my work boots are Ariat ProBaby's. They suffice and I do have a couple of pairs of those and some FatBaby's...for 'fun' boots. You know...lime green snake, purple with rhinestones and my new favorite, black with red flames on the toe.

    It's funny that the tall, fancy shaft is back. It's intended for you to tuck your pant leg in to show them off. My daughter does, but I haven't gone back to doing that yet-LOL.

    Of course, back in the day, I used to slit every pair of boots and tuck my pant legs in...just like the bronc riders. Oiy Vey!

  10. DAMMIT BEC!!!!!!!

    I'm in love. Esp. that bottom right one....

  11. Oooohhh Catty you're mean! Um, how much money do they run? I still have an old pair of Acme boots with the plastic shaft...they are sooo comfy, and the only pair in the whole store that would work with my high instep. And I even had enough money to buy good boots, just none fit. New ariets I got wore out in a matter of weeks. Not impressed. I love Mountain Horse english boots, comfy enough to walk in, zippers, no ankle chafe, and the winter ones are actually warm and comfy for chores!

  12. BEC- I used to think people tucked their pantlegs into the boots to keep them clean when they were scooping poop or slopping through the mud. Not to show them off.

    Anyone remember the silver tips for the toe and heel, the silver for the kilties, boot bracelets, speed beads for the horses? Am I showing my age? I can remember a lot of people thinking this stuff was the latest, greatest, must have accessory... Thankfully some things go out of style and stay that way. Others come back around to haunt us.

  13. Catty-
    I did not know that they came high-arch. I think the ones I have bought are just the regular boots and the arch is plenty high.

    Cut-I think the high top boots actually came about in the brush country...Nevada, the hill country in TX, parts of AZ...Yes??? Weren't they primarily to protect the legs? And they tucked the pantleg in to protect the denium.

    Lord if I can remember the name of that custom boot shop at The Stockyards in Ft. Worth, but that place turned the boot shaft into works of art. You would just HAVE to tuck your pant legs in to show those off.

    And yes, I also remember the days of the do-dads for boots. I think I still have my Montana Silver Kelties for lace-ups. Yikes!

  14. OMG the silver boot accessories!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Right up there with roach clips on contester girls' hats.

    hee hee someone at work was complaining about seeing a horseperson out to lunch wearing their spurs.... they thought it was an affectation......

    I must say that some of the buckaroo boots look REALLY GOOD on the outside of "skinny jeans," if you've got the butt for it. I don't.

    Also, I HATEHATEHATE "stacked" jeans. They make my already short chubby legs look that much dumber. Gimme some nice bootcut Mom jeans with the hem right at the bottom of the bootheel.

    I hate RIDING in jeans, though. I've become a full-seat breeches convert.

  15. Catty ,I hear you on the plain old boot cut jeans . My problem is the "mom jeans are too long waisetd so the mid low rise looks like a mom jean on me but I am pleased Jean manufacturers finally found my waist!

  16. Yep I am ridiculously short waisted, short legged, and a 38H. Let's just say I never carried my infant daughter successfully in a sling.... :P

    Mid-rise jeans fit me JUST SO. :D

    With a 29" inseam... if I'm wearing boots.

    Sandals require the 28" inseam.

    Lands End stretch bootcut jeans FTW!!!!!!!!!

  17. I know i'm a bit after the punch here, but can I still add in my 2 cents?

    My first pair was a cheap pair of Justin ropers. Cardboard leather, cardboard soles. This was in high school, and I wore them to school all day, then took the city bus to my job where I managed a barn full of 20 or so horses every afternoon. I wasn't always on time with the bus that ran in front of the facility, so some days I was stuck walking 1.3 miles on concrete sidewalk in those things.

    By 6 months later, they were basically taped on my feet - and yes, I am completely guilty of duct taping the toes of my boots together!

    The silver kilties were immensely popular when I was at the height of my western duds wearin days - but since I didn't have a pair of 'good' boots (they were ALL used to clean stalls in) I never bothered. Couldn't see the point of putting a $50 silver piece on a boot that was gonna get covered in manure anyways.

    I only had one pair of lace ups - I think I ended up taking the little Kiltie out... didn't like the way it looked anyways.

    I haven't bought a pair of boots in nearly 4 years - the last pair was a set of rough out FatBabies that I wouldn't recommend for anything except barn work. They split on the sides within a year, and the leather (even with waterproofing weekly) still got so dried out and tough, that it became so uncomfortable to wear.

    ON TOP of that - I believe AQHA has actually ruled that FatBabies are not legal to show in - something about the width of the boot being too wide for stirrups - if the rider gets hung up the boot won't slide out. I believe it is a DQ if you are showing AQHA in them...