7 Things Your Boot Fitter Wants You To Know
Let’s make this simple… there is a direct correlation between how well you care for your boots and how long they last. Here are 7 things you need to know about leather care so you can enjoy your boots for years to come!
- Leather is an organic material - While your boots aren't going to have a sticker saying their certified organic by the USDA, it's important to note that organic materials come in many forms, not just food! Here's your short biology lesson - an organic material is any natural, carbon-based material that will biodegrade over time, i.e. break down. Don't worry, there won't be a biology quiz later ;). Whether you see it or not, your leather is always biodegrading! How fast they break down is influenced by how you care for your boots.
- Don’t get your boots wet - This is probably the toughest thing for equestrians! It’s easy to just get off your horse and put them in the wash stall to hose them off or to walk them in and out of muddy pastures, but resist the urge. You are also battling the sweat inside your boots, which is an additional source of moisture! Make sure they are completely dry before putting your boot trees back in and putting them away. Cedar boot trees are great for absorbing any residual moisture, as well as for keeping the overall shape of your boots. If you do happen to get your boots wet, remember to clean them in a manner that is suitable for your leather type. Even “waterproof” leather will need to be re-waterproofed in order to retain its water-resistant properties. Lastly, although leather may be “waterproof” or “water-resistant,” soles are NOT! Keep your soles and seams dry.
- Select leathers and textiles based on your needs - When designing your boots, make sure that your design is compatible with your needs. For example, if you hose off your horse every day in the wash stall while wearing your boots (this is not recommended, but we understand it happens), you won’t want any fabric, at the very least, on the foot of your boot. Why? You might ask. Think about it from a practical side; the constant soaking of the fabric can cause mold and other issues. Your boot representative for any brand should go over your choices and discuss how you use your boots in order to recommend a design that will work best for you!
Care for your specific leather correctly - The best example for this with Kingsley boots is to not polish the gaucho (“waterproof”) leathers, as this affects the integrity of the waterproofing treatment that is on the leather. Whether it’s TDR’s Boot Care Guide or your boot brand rep’s advice, make sure you understand how to take care of any leathers or textiles that are on your boots. We cannot say this enough - How you care for your boots directly correlates with how long they will last! The addition of reinforcement to make your boot a hard boot versus a soft boot, crystals, etc. will also influence how you care for your leather.
- Be careful where you place your seams and zippers - When stitching a boot, small holes are created, and, where there are holes, there is an opportunity for moisture to penetrate. The toecap, for example, while a lovely addition to any boot, might not be the right option for you if you are constantly getting your boots wet. Additionally, you will see wear and tear on any seam that comes into direct contact with your saddle, stirrup leathers, stirrup irons, etc. Understanding this will help you pick a zipper placement that is appropriate for your riding style. So, for example, if you see a lot of wear and tear on the inner calf of your boot, perhaps a back zipper might be the best option for you, as that zipper will NOT come into contact with your saddle as much as an inside-front zipper would.
- Keep your boots in a temperature controlled environment for storage - Leather shrinks in the cold and expands in the heat. Therefore, keeping your boots in a temperature controlled storage or tack room can prevent them from becoming misshapen over time. In the Winter, a wet boot will freeze if not kept in a temperature controlled environment. Cold, wet leather will freeze and crack, annihilating your leather. Warm, wet leather will develop mold.
- Have multiple pairs of boots - We’re not just saying this to get you to buy more boots ;)! Especially for trainers who are riding multiple horses daily, we recommend having multiple pairs of boots to switch between rides or, at a minimum, daily. This will allow your boots time to dry and increase the longevity of your boots. If you are a person riding many horses throughout the day and have boots that don’t last long, consider rotating through several pairs of boots!
This is not an all-inclusive article, but we hope that this demystifies the basics of boot care!
Want to read more from the Boot Education Series? Click here: Hard vs. Soft: What makes a “Dressage” boot?
Start your boot journey with The Distinguished Rider! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today!