Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prairie's New Boots (or, another reason to shop)

Just about the time my checkbook recovers from the holiday season I usually find something inane (but positively necessary) to go tack ho-ing for.  Today's impulse d'jour is to find the perfect set of jumping boots for Miss Prairie.

I must confess that 80% of the time we ride, her big, pretty legs are totally naked.  On top of that, nearly 100% of the time we jump her little legs are boot/wrap free.  Exceptions are when we travel for lessons or schooling, but that's predominantly because white polos make my blurry videos easier to watch and let's be honest, that is a priority. 

Given the vast amount of horse crap that is packed into my lockers (note the plural), my garage, my trailer and my car, one would think that there would be no possible way that Prairie could be wanting for anything, but really, that's just not quite true.  We have extra saddles... bridles for every occasion... more clothing than most families of five... and certainly more than our fair share of darling saddles pads/half pads/quarter sheets etc.

But, my collection is shockingly modest in one category - Horse Boots.  This has (naturally) started an amount of research and googling rivaled only by the effort put toward my thesis or horse shopping.  Fascinating really, how little care or consideration I put into other purchases in my life... but I'll be damned if I buy a piece of horse tack without knowing every feature, review, and coupon that may be available somewhere in the depths of internet.. so here goes:

When I first bought Pia, she got a set of Eskadron open fronts and full hind boots along with some new polos and bells.  But as our focus sashayed to almost entirely dressage, there was no need for additional boots (okay fine, one set of fleecey boots on sale), and we pretty much just polo wrapped all the time.  I am a sucker for polos.  It's embedded deeply in my brain.
Then Pia went to Summer Camp and Cowboy Man gave me a weird look when I even asked if he wanted her boots and Pia's legs were naked for the next 18 months...

Prairie justified another new set of polos (no such thing as too many of those things..) and has gotten by using Pia's fleecey boots which actually fit Prair better than they ever fit Pia (Pia has delicate little baby legs the size of pencils). The fleecey boots are great when we ride inside, but are a nightmare in the outdoor with wet sand...

Pia's Eskadron's however are slightly too petite to strap onto Prairie, which means aside from polos I don't really even have a good option to put on Prairie's legs for basic protection over fences.

In theory this shouldn't be an issue for my "new dressage horse,"  But now that we are working grids and small courses twice a week I think it might be prudent to acquire something.  True, she doesn't interfere with her own legs, and true she's barefoot which makes it less disastrous if she ever were to whack herself... but still.  Horses are big, their legs are little, and peace of mind is not (that) expensive.

So, boot hunting we go.

Being a slight priss, I want Prairie's new accessories to be both stylish and functional, and durable and pretty enough to be used in "dressy" situations such as lessons, schooling shows and clinics.

What I've found is that the boots I seem to gravitate toward are a far cry from the old $20 neoprene splint boots I used to happily duct tape onto my pony for cross country.  While I appreciate the progress in both form and function I wouldn't mind a slightly less inflated price tag to go with...

Right now I think the top contender for the open fronts is the EquiFit T-Boot EXP2.  For one, it has "P2" in the name, so... duh. But more importantly I like the reviews, I love a removable liner and I enjoy the look.  The EXP2 also comes in a velcro closure, which I like but it doesn't look quite so polished. At $174 its more money than I've ever spent on a boot, but in surveying the options, it seemed like it's priced in the middle of the current market.  Realistically, the biggest downsides are the price, and a lack of personal experience with the brand.

pretty sexy for a boot
EquiFit's latest "most amazing boot ever" actually comes in an extremely appealing Ostrich leather print that makes my heart pitter patter, but the $220 price tag makes it possible for even me to say no.

Growing up eventing, the little hind ankle boots that hunters and jumpers wear have never made sense to me, and I've always just opted for a full XC boot in the back.  But if I'm acknowledging our exploration of Hunter Land, and all the absurd (to me) tack and traditions that go with that, I have to at least consider the "match set."  I still don't really understand why a 2" ankle boot costs almost as much as a full boot, but some mysteries are just best left to the universe.

The current second place option is by Eskadron, who I've had mostly positive experiences with in the past.  I say mostly because I had one pair of boots totally crap out within a week of purchase, but Dover happily sent a new set which fared better.  From a functional perspective they last a long time, but whatever PVC, space material stuff they have on the outside of their older boots scratches really easily in sand (which I ride in) and thus it's impossible to keep them super clean or have them looking new/nice/polished.  It looks like the Flexisoft Air Front Boots might have a new shell material, which is would be good - and on sale at $99 they are more affordable than the EquiFits:
picture this, in black.
I like it's focus on airflow, though given our climate and our workload, overheating tendons probably aren't a top concern... The biggest downside for me is that the overall look is decidedly more "sporty" and less "polished."   Also, the inside is neoprene, which is less fun to clean/dry, but I've had good luck with hosing down Eskadron products before.

Another contender from Eskadron is their Memo series.  It also falls into the "sporty not polished" category but could be a good one:

It's on sale for  $134 the price is in the middle, which is a pro, but the reviews regularly mention how long they take to dry which is a consideration in our soggy corner of the world...

So, any thoughts out there? anyone have any of these boots or watched a barnmate love or destroy them?  Help a Tack Ho out....


  1. I have an older pair of EquiFit boots and love them! They have lasted almost 5yrs and are still going strong. The liners are so easy to clean. I like them better than the Eskadrons I used to have.

  2. EquiFits are my "someday" boots. Granted I have no experience with them. But they're so damn pretty. And Sapphire wore them!

  3. Everyone I know with the T-Boots loves them, and I've drooled over them for years.... but since I'm poor, I have thus far been limited to drooling, and not owning. One day...

  4. Quite possibly being the biggest tack ho around, minus maybe Aimee...I HAVE LIKE LITERALLY 27 pairs of boots and polos combined. I seriously have a problem. Theyve accumulated over 11 years, but I take good care of everything so they last. I actually have a pair of polos that are 11 yrs old, HA.

    As for the above boots, I WISH I could help you, but never in my life have I been able to afford them thangs. Gorgeous though. I personally like the second pair. They look like they mold better and have more sizing options.

    For dressage schooling, there is a lady at the barn that absolutely loves the Equilibrium stretch wrap boots. They look amazing and I have drooled over them forever. If I could get these I totally would. At $80 they aren't too bad.


    Then again they look nothing like the open front boots you've looked up, so I don't know if thats what you're looking for. I know I've exclusively used open front for jumping, and not dressage. But then there's that "I can use them for both" thing if you get them :D

    happy hunting!

  5. I have the Equifit boots. they make Lucy's legs swell in the front of her cannon bones. I am not a huge fan.

  6. I use Westropp petal bell boots and Toklat Valena fleecy boots on Apollo. Sporty, not polished, but I like them. On the other hand, I would vastly prefer the Eskadrons for cross-country. Fleece in water = not fun. I really hate the basic neoprene Woof boots, though. I just ... don't like them. Not the way they fit, not the way they look, any of it. I did like the Davis PVC boots a lot, but they rubbed, so they had to go.

    So I vote for the Eskadrons. One pair for schooling, one fr showing. :) If you show in boots, that is.

  7. http://www.smartpakequine.com/professionals-choice-ventech-open-front-jumping-boots-10602p.aspx

    This in black, they make nice slightly longer hind ankel boots for the back

  8. I have the Equi-Fit boots (my brother gave me a Christmas/Birthday budget and said go crazy!) and I love them. I've had them for the past 6 years. They get used at least once a week or more and they have stood up well. I love how easy they are to clean and I have never had a problem with fit, no matter what horse I pop them on.

  9. Quite honestly, I've never found anything about the Eskadrons or the EquiFits to justify the price (ok, plus I'm a trend hater). The boots I have have been more durable and easier to clean than any of my barn mates. Now they may not meet the priss standard, but that is for you to decide, LOL! I mostly school my horses naked, but if I do boot, I use Roma or Moxie -- both actually offer far more variety now and are durable, affordable, and come in colours! I've had my Roma open fronts for probaby six years now. Aside from the inevitable scuff marks, they look exactly the same.

  10. I absolutely love my equifit sport wraps, and have been oggling their leather t-boots for a while now. My wraps are relatively durable and come out well in the wash, although the price tage prevents me from buying another set.

  11. I have only ever owned Nunn Finer galloping boots, the "American" style. They are not even remotely sporty, but since I event, I figure if my horse is gonna hit something then a Kevlar boot is likely to afford the best protection out there. They're easy to clean, don't absorb water, and the ballistic nylon exterior has held up well.

  12. I have eskadron ankle boots and have been rather unimpressed. I probably won't buy another set. For open fronts I bought the veredus Olympus and love them. Very easy to clean and have held up exceptionally. I plan to buy the ankle boots in the near future. Have fun shopping around :)

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