I'm not 100% sure where this obsession came from. My first assumption is that it's some bastion of a holdover from Pony Club and the ever present fear of Formal Inspections. Lord knows I've overcome most other PC commandments, so either the boot polishing thing is that last neurosis standing, or it's totally unrelated. Who knows.
Regardless of why, I just sort of relish obscenely well polished boots. At shows I notice other people's polish jobs and my reaction ranges from a smug disdain of people who don't clean/polish around their laces, (or both actually buffing to a shine) to full out jealousy of people with a patent like shine radiating from their well worn boots.
At home I have an arsenal of polishes, brushes, clothes and the ever important old pair of pantyhose that contribute to getting my boots as shiny as possible.
Typically I keep whatever my current "show boots" are in pretty tip-top shape, while whatever I'm wearing to school in/stomp around the barn tends to collect sand and mud and splatters galore without getting much in the way of attention.
However, this weekend I got a bee in my bonnet and decided that all boots needed a thorough cleaning and polishing immediately.
|All is right with the world.|
I am not exaggerating. I woke up probably 20 times last night because every time I moved my arm it throbbed. Mind you, this is mostly due to the fact that I have several rotator cuff injuries from college volleyball which flair up from time to time - but pain after swinging and playing hard for hours on end is different form pain after sitting cross legged on the floor polishing boots while watching the NFL playoffs.... Not exactly heroic.
But back to the boots. What I found moderately fascinating was how differently each pair of boots takes a shine.
Since I wasn't polishing for a show, but rather to condition, seal stitching, etc I went for my "normal" polish job that involves cleaning with a warm wet rag, polishing once with a regular cream ( I use an old rag to apply and initially buff, followed by a real buffing with nylons..) then repeating the process with a regular hard wax polish from Kiwi.
That combo gets you a pretty good seal, a decent shine and a good base that allows you to just wipe off dirt and whatnot for a couple weeks without having to re-polish. It's my go to.
So. This process involved four pairs of boots.
1) The pull-on Effingham Field Boots (circa 1996?)
2) The Konig Dressage Boots (purchase from old trainer for $150)
3) The pull-on Konig Field Boots (Purchased on clearance last year)
4) the Treadstep DaVinci's (Purchased this year as our show/lesson boots, but are now on sale in Dover for like $150 less than I paid - sniff sniff)
The Effinghams are by far my favorite. They feel like slippers, I can pull them on and off without boot pulls or a jack, and the leather takes a shine beautifully. They have been dying a slow, painful death, and I just noticed a huge blowout in the ball of my foot, which actually elicited a small squeak of sadness, but I'm hoping a good cobbler can patch it up ok.
But, when I lined them up against all the other boots, they really are a full inch taller and do fit me beautifully should we ever venture back into the Dressage ring...
The relatively new Konig Field Boots are finally starting to get a good shine. I remember showing in them in June and lamenting the fact that the softer calfskin just wouldn't shine up. I could get the toe and heel buffed nicely, but the calf refused to really get that patent/wet shine on it. I finally gave up and paid $20 to have them "professionally" polished at a show and took some solace in the fact that the career boot polisher couldn't do much with them either. Most people might have felt like it was a waste of $20, but for me - to know the lack of perfect shine wasn't my fault? Money well spent...
However, yesterday I noticed a significant gain in the shine I was able to get on them. I think the leather is breaking in, and I'm finally sealing the pores with polish and laying the base for a better finished shine. I'm also really happy with these boots in terms of utility (aside from being slightly too short), they are distinctly grippier when I'm riding than the Treadsteps and I really don't mind the look of a pull on boot (though I know it's a faux pas in the Hunter Ring).
Finally, I polished the new Treadsteps. Much like when I first got the Konig Fields, the Treadsteps have had me trying all my tricks trying to get the newer leather to shine up. The foot of the boot is polishing well, but the slightly more textured leather on the calf is a total pain in the ass in terms of polish. At this point there are small parts of the leather that are smoothing out and shining up more than others which drives me absolutely insane, but hopefully is indicative of what will come with a bit more wear and tear.
In case you think I'm crazy and all boots look the same when polished, here is a comparison of my oldest boots (the Effinghams) and the newest (the Treadsteps) and their appearances after the same application of polish/elbow grease:
|Clean, Shiny, but not blow your socks off polished...|
And The Effinghams:
|This makes my heart happy.|
My goal in life is for my boots to always look like they are dripping wet patent in the ring. I just... love that.
In other news, it's a good thing I don't have a lesson for a couple days because I literally cannot lift my right arm from the shoulder. I am broken. Lamest "horse related" injury ever.