I still fondly recall the evening in college when my roommate and her then-beau, now husband of 35 years, watched in amazement after we returned from a party as I polished my boots for the next day's hunting, still in my party clothes, which included a long sleeved white shirt. Not a speck o' polish anywhere it shouldn't be. Sometimes I get lucky that way.
In general, however, if you are saying that 'after' you are done polishing, the boots spread the joy everywhere, then I offer two tips:
1. After applying polish, buff thoroughly with a used set of panty hose. This brings out a nice shine and removes excess polish in one fell swoop. Then buff further with brush.
2. Never, ever apply polish to the inside of the boot legs. Never. Ever. That will indeed add polish to your saddle. Do buff the entire boot, include that part to which you have not added polish- some of the excess from other parts of the boot will work their way in there but not enough to make a mess.
Added detail, I am of the camp, don't ever put anything but polish on your boots (unless it's water on a sponge to thoroughly clean the crud off before polishing). And I can tell you that I am still using boots given to me by a friend- they belonged to his grandmother and date from about 1920. To me, proof that the 'nothing but polish' school (e.g. no leather conditioners/cleaners of any sort) works.
Hampton Bay- I have that problem- but it's not with black boot polish- but with Hoof Black. No matter how hard I try, and how careful I am - I always end up getting some of it on at least one finger or a thumb- if not on my clothes somewhere. And then, there are always the outlines of the hooves to deal with unless I apply it on a surface like gravel where I can scatter the evidence. lol
I have always only shown in saddleseat classes, where the boots are short and really only the toes and a partial outside of each boot shows once you are mounted. I use regular waxy shoe polish Kwi is the usual brand- well in advance of showing and I do buff my boots to a shine with an old stocking or a piece of soft cloth - lots of buffing.
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Elysian Fields Farm-- --An equine refuge
It's not the actual polishing, as I can handle getting polish on my hands or my old clothes. No biggie, I have lots of "work outside" clothes that are already stained with paint or dirt or whatever else.
It's the after I've polished. I don't want polish on my hands, or breeches, or saddle pad, etc. Maybe I just don't buff enough? To be honest, I had given up on black polish entirely and just started using the clear stuff, but it doesn't look so great on my Petries (the leather is more grained/porous).
Buff like crazy, with brush and cloth. I rarely bother with my riding boots (because I'm a bad person that way) but I'm army and shining boots is practically what we do. If you buff long enough it won't come off.
Well a few years ago, here on COTH, I learned that you do the polishing as described, buffed off. THEN you take your hair dryer and buff the warm, wax polish into the leather. I was told then, that the heated, polished boots hold the color and never rub off.
Since we haven't shown since then, I haven't had reason to try it. However with a couple new young horses, we plan to get out next summer, where boot polishing will be needed. So I will be using the hair dryer method for a marvelous shine.
Thinking about the older-times, shoe shine folks, they had the rag going fast enough to heat the wax in polish, warmed your shoes! Really did set the lasting shine on your shoes!! So I would think the heat of hair dryer while buffing, would also work well at getting polish into the leather pores and prevent polish rubbing off. Several people posted on that thread about how well the hair dryer method worked on their boots. Were always getting asked how they got the shine.