As Summer draws to a close and the days start to get shorter, boot season is just getting ready to start. Of course, for many horseback riders every season is boot season, but during the Fall and Winter seasons one has even more excuses to wear boots all the time. One of the most versatile boots for horseback riders, is the Country Boot. Able to easily go from the barn to the field, to casual fashion wear and back again, these are great boots that are a great addition to any rider’s closet.
What is a country boot?
Country boots are a particular style of boot that originates in the countryside of the UK and Ireland, and exhibits a traditional “English country-style”. These boots are a waterproof, leather boot, which is perfect for tramping through hill and dale in damp and muddy seasons that were typical of Irish and British weather. These boots are also commonly known as “course walk” boots due to their popularity with eventers when walking the cross-country course.
Finding the Best Style of Boot for You
Country boots are all about functional style. These boots can stand up to bad weather, while being comfortable and stylish at the same time. There are a variety of different designs available to match your own personal fashion while holding true to its English style roots. When choosing your country boots there are several different features that you’ll want to consider.
Height: While the most traditional designs of country boots are knee-high in height, there are number of boots now available in a mid-calf height. Knee high boots offer the most protection in wet, or swampy weather, but a shorter height can be more versatile for fashion wear. Mid-height boots are also a great option for people who have difficulty fitting a tall boot.
Waterproofing: There are two main ways to create waterproofing in leather boots. The first, and most common method is to make the leather itself waterproof. This is a reliable method for most situations, but may require more care and it may fail if the boots are worn for many hours in wet conditions. The second method involves the inclusion of a waterproof membrane in the boot; this impermeable membrane is placed between the leather and the lining of the boot. This is the most reliable method of waterproofing and requires no extra care, and is a typical feature of higher-end boots.
Materials & Color: The most traditional color for country boots is brown, though black is becoming increasingly popular, as well as some variations that include accents of both colors. While the main material used in country boots is leather, there are other accents that are becoming very popular. These include various fabrics, such as wool and canvas, as well as other types of leather such as suede. The addition of these materials can add an exciting accent of color, or a subtle twist of style on a traditional boot. Typically, the addition of these accents does not inhibit the waterproof qualities of the boots due to a the waterproof membrane mentioned above, but they make require additional care for cleaning.
Fit Adjustments: Unlike riding-specific boots, country-style boots are designed for more casual wear and tend to have a more relaxed fit around the calf. For those with more athletic calves, wide options are available in a number of different boots. Additional fit options include lacing on either the side or the front of the boot, which is particular helpful if you plan to ride in the boots, or if you prefer a more fitted style. An increasing number of manufacturers are also including elastic gussets at the top of the boot for greater ease when putting on the boots.
Warmth: When choosing your boots you’ll also want to think about the climate. For Fall and Spring, you probably won’t need any extra insulation, and a normal country boot will keep you in good stead. In the Winter, insulation becomes are very nice option. Fleece, Sheepskin, or Thinsulate™ linings are some of the most popular insulation types for Winter country boots.
Rideability: Will you ride in your country boots? While country boots are boots and feature at least a small heel, some are more designed for riding than others. Some features to look for in a country boot designed for riding include the sole design, the inside calf design and placement of accents such as straps and buckles. If you’re going to be riding in your boots, you’ll want a “stirrup friendly” tread on the sole; ultra grip, thick lug soles may be great for tramping through inclement weather on the ground, but they can pose a problem in the saddle. Any buckles and straps should be recessed to allow for better contact in the saddle and less chance for abrasion rubs for you or your horse.
Country Boot Accessories
Once you’ve discovered your perfect boot style it’s time to accessorize. If you’re wearing tall boots, you’ll want to accompany them with the perfect pair of tall boot socks. In cool weather, consider adding a pair of welly cozies, polar fleece liners, which fold over the top of the boots to add an extra layer of style, as well as, warmth.
To keep your boots looking nice year, over year, you’ll want to treat them with the same care that you do your normal riding boots. If you have tall boots, you’ll want to consider using boot shapers when you’re not wearing them; these not only help the boot to maintain their shape, making them more comfortable for you, but also limiting stress and wear on the leather. Because the boots are made out of leather, you’ll also want to clean and condition them occasionally; your tack cleaning supplies can typically also be used on your boots. Occasional use of waterproofing to reinforce the treated leather is also beneficial.