I just bought my first pair of English riding boots .... Normally I wear western, but I am kinda getting into the English riding and giving it a shot. Mainly because I didn't have a choice (I am in a show for the next two weeks) so I had to buy a full English riding outfit - which I love - but the problem is that I don't know a thing about the boots I just bought and they are killing me! They are Ariats, so that's nice, but I think they are too tall for my legs. I can't really bend my knees and the tops of my feet are bruised. I am basically sore from the knee to my toes, and it takes 2 people to get the boots off because they don't have a zipper. They are pull-ons. I realize that they have to be broken in, but is it usually as extreme as this?! Is there anything I can do to speed up the breaking in process or are these boots just wrong for me?
Talls boots are a pain. My last once took me about 3 months to break in... And I got them stretched and stretched and stretched and oops now there too big lol. Put your feet in plastic bags.. I use greenhawk bags. And completely COVER the inside with baby powder- do this outside breathing this stuff in isnt good and its messy. This will help the slidding. Them hurting is 100% normal, but if you loose feeling in your legs ( which does happen ) Get them stretched, once you have that top opening bigger everything will fit better. And the tops of your feet... it happens. I was dead set against buying boots with a zipper and when I did to have as my " crappy everyday boots" I fell in love. So much better broken in the first day you ride. If you can take them back and get zipper you should. I love the pull ons but I will probably never wear mine again ( Don't tell my parents that ) and I got them custom made and they still hurt that much
If they fit properly and it's just a breaking in issue, you can use the bathtub method. Early in the morning, dunk them in a lukewarm tub, put them on, and wear them UNTIL THEY ARE DRY. They will be broken in perfectly by the end of the day. Works every time. :)
Normally you can leave the foot part dry and just dunk the shaft, but if the top of the foot is killing you you want to dunk that too.
Oh and for getting them off - spray the insides with Show Sheen the night before you want to wear them and they should come off much easier.
But, if you ever get a pair that really fits good,then you will want to have them reheeled & resoled-'cause you don't want to go through this again. And that can get pretty pricey,but they will be almost like new.
It's a little old but what I did/do.... I used to have Dublin zip-ups but I snagged a pair of Ariat challenger's on eBay for like 90 bucks, new in box!! Woot! Anyway...
I put baby powder on my boot socks(the Zoot socks by Ovation, super thin and silky-like) to keep my feet and calves dry. I also really oil it up with some leather cleaner- Meltonian, I think? Especially around the ankles. Then I walk around the house and wait until they dry. I did that twice and I could easily slide my boots off by myself; well, it would take a few minutes but no more than 10 total for both. I still use boot pulls to get them on. I always put boot trees in them to hold their shape too.
Kikimaru, I've heard of using warm water before. I climb too, so climbing shoes- especially when you get down to really aggressive and really downsize your shoes like I did.... You're supposed to do that, but I always felt funny about leather in water so I sucked it up and went through like two weeks of hell before I could comfortably climb in them lol
Maybe I'll try that next time, since you mentioned it too... I was just skeptical about treated vs untreated leather being in water.
Also, remember that the stretching in the ankles and stuff will make the boot drop a bit.
The key for tall boots the first month you buy them is wearing them all the time. You will get blisters, you will cry, and your boots may have dried blood in them, but if they are worn regularly then they'll wear down quickly and conform to your feet. It is less painful if you only wear them for an hour at a time but they will take a whole lot more hours then if you wear them for a straight week. Good luck and merry pain to you!
When you wet leather, you quite literally MOLD it to what ever shape it is conforming to, ie: your foot. So it will give you that custom fit feel because it is going from the mold of a stiff shoe last, to the mold of your foot.
Be so very careful with this though, you CAN ruin the leather.
As for breaking in tall boots, I own a pair of Ariat Heritage tall boots, slip on's, with a tall calf. They will dig into the knee right below the cap, and behind the leg for a few weeks (I had bloody blisters on the tendons at the back of my knees for a while). This is good, that means when they drop, they will sit where they are supposed to. And they WILL drop, about any where from 1 to 2, maybe 2 1/2 inches. If your Ariats are anything like mine, they will be broken in pretty quick (without water dumping them). You just have to wear them, move in them, etc. I wore mine for days at a time, and would walk funny because I could not bend my knee. I would often stand on the edge of steps and drop my heels to help flex the boots (and my legs lol).
Another thing you can do is oil them. They are leather, treat them like your saddle. Oil the tar out of them, rub off that satin finish (it's just a protective sheen for the dye), and oil, oil, oil them! They will supple up quick and help the break in process.
You will know when they are broken in when you stand them up, and they fall/break over sideways at the ankle. Don't store them this way, as it can crack the leather at the ankle. You should lay them down to store them, or hang them upside down by boot hangers.
You might try going to a boot store and finding yourself a boot jack. It is the only way I can take mine off. But avoid the wood and velvet ones, they can rub the leather off. Mine is plastic with a soft rubber cover (like the one below). You will have to stand on it and heave your leg out, and it will take effort (and a good chair to sit on ), but it will enable you to take off your boots without the aid of another person.
I recently started the break in process of a pair of Ariat Sierra western work boots. They hurt my feet more than my Heritage tall boots did, breaking them in. Now I have to figure out how to supple the rough out suede, possibly without oiling them.