Written by Meagan DeLisle and reposted with permission from HorseNation.com.
Is there anything as beautiful in this world as a newly unboxed pair of tall boots? A few things might run a close race, but I was awestruck as I opened the lid of the box containing my gorgeous new Ariat Heritage Contours. The pristine new leather boots right before my eyes were definitely a work of art, but the more I admired my newest addition to my growing collection of show clothing, the more it dawned on me — not only was I the owner of a lovely new pair of boots, but if I wasn’t careful I would bear the blisters to prove it.
Breaking in new tall boots sparks a deep internal love/hate relationship. My last new pair of tall boots were my prized possession. I was so proud of them, in fact, that I naively wore them straight into the ring just a day later. Several soaking sessions of Shout and a few deep water washes later and the blood was finally out of my breeches.
Softening the leather of any product is a time-consuming task but it’s well worth the labor of love to avoid painful blisters and pinching while attempting to “ride through the pain.” So… what is the best way to break in your new tall boots? I’ll be the first to admit that there were a lot of theories I wasn’t bold enough to try, but I do have some semi-helpful hips with a hint of humor to help get you through the process.
Step One: Reach Out to Your Fellow Equestrians for Help
….and then be too chicken to try them. A quick post on Facebook left me with ENDLESS ideas for the brave of heart, several of which many of my friends swore by but with which I had a hard time following through.
The most popular suggestion was to put on the tall boots and the socks you would wear with them in the shower, allowing them to soak all the way through. At that point you were supposed to wear them around until they were completely dry. I could see the merit, but the mental struggle of submerging my new babies in water won against my bravery when it came to that plan.
Other popular suggestions included taking a washcloth dipped in warm olive oil and rubbing around the ankles and the back of the knee to help break the pinch points in, or to use a combination of water and alcohol (and I already asked — no, the alcohol is not for drinking), and to just ride a ton of horses!
I decided to go with a safer plan that included keeping my tall boots in the bathroom with me every time I showered. Instead of soaking them, I let the steam soften them up. I steamed them about five times prior to actually wearing them around to try and help ease the breaking in process. And what do you know — it actually helped. On day one, the boots could almost stand up on their own, but after a few times being steamed they were nice and supple and felt much more relaxed in the ankle. The steaming, however, didn’t help immensely with the back of the knee area, which was where I experience the most discomfort.