Find the right tall boots for a variety of disciplines. I’ll be showing you what to look for in tall boot fit to make sure that you look spectacular in the ring.
The first step is making sure that your foot feels comfortable in the boot. Your toe should not be touching the front, and your heel should rest comfortably in the back without lifting. Foot width can be tough in tall boots, as they are generally very narrow. If the boot feels a bit snug across the widest part of the foot, you can sometimes use a few squirts of Boot Stretch to help the leather relax and stretch a bit across the top of the foot.
The next most important area to evaluate is the height. Tall boots should be tall. The goal is to have an elongated, elegant lower leg, especially in the equitation ring. Most tall boots have a Spanish cut on the outside of the boot, which means that the leather is cut higher, covering more of the knee and making the leg look even longer. Brand new, the boot will come up to the bend in the knee on the inside of the boot, and there may be a slight wrinkle to the leather just behind the knee. This should go away as the boot breaks in and drops. Most boots will wrinkle at the ankle and drop approximately 1-2 inches in height, so you’ll need to ensure that they are tall enough to start with, so that the boots will still be at a good height after they break in.
Width is also key. Boots should be snug around the ankle and the calf, with the exception of dressage boots, which have more of a stovepipe leg cut and will be straighter from calf to ankle. Proper fit isn’t just about fashion. A boot that’s too short won’t show off the rider’s leg to the best advantage, and it also could catch on the bottom flap of the saddle, which could be dangerous. If the boot is too tall, it won’t wrinkle and drop enough to alleviate the discomfort behind the knee, and it will cause excessive wrinkling around the knee. Of the two, having a good fit around the calf and ankle is more important in helping you ride as effectively as possible.
Let’s walk through a few examples of proper and improper fit in tall boots. As you can see in this example, the boot is too short and wide through the calf. It shifts around excessively and will hinder the rider in achieving effective leg position. This boot, on the other hand, fits beautifully for a brand new boot. The height looks too tall right now, but the leather will soften and wrinkle around the ankle, dropping the height by 1-2 inches. If the boot is uncomfortable to ride in initially due to the height, you can insert a heel lift. This wedge lifts your foot in the boot, allowing the height to be less of an issue until the boot drops enough for comfort behind the knee. The calf and ankle have a snug, tailored look to them.
Thanks to the increased popularity of zippers and elastic panels, most everyone can find a near-custom fit in tall boots. I hope these examples have helped you assess boot fit.