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Custom boot questions

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  • Custom boot questions

    Bear with me here--

    I was given a gift certificate to my local tack shop for my birthday and am trying to think how I can use it towards custom boots. I need to talk to the store but I am fairly certain i can order boots through them, so that part shouldn't be a problem.

    Full-customs have never really been in the realm of possibility for me before so i have all sorts of questions that i have never pondered.

    1) Brand. I am interested in longevity primarily. If i am going to pay $800+ for a pair of boots, they need to outlive me (i'm in my 30s and ride daily). What are your experiences with durability?

    2) Style. I'm an over-fences rider but I do sometimes compete in low-level local dressage. How gauche are dress boots? It seems like no one wears them any more for any reason--if you jump, you're in field boots, and if you're in the dressage ring, you're wearing real dressage boots. I haven't done A-circuit hunters/eq in years but it is conceivable that I may again at some point in the future.

    3) Stupid boot detail. My weight fluctuates a LOT and I will need a boot-maker who can run elastic up the back of the boot. I hate zippers--they seem like they always break when you DON'T need them to--but I am worried that many boot makers won't be willing/able to do anything for me there.

    Thanks in advance for all your assistance, COTH! And, before someone starts advising me about some fantastic off-the-shelf alternative, bear in mind that i have 17" calves and need 20 to 21 inch height. NO ONE makes that--believe me, I have looked.
    Click here for the Roxie blog!

  • #2
    As far as durability, get French calf, but not baby calf, which is buttery soft but practically melts as you ride in it, they don't hold up well at all. The regular French calf is beautiful but very durable, I have Dehner custom dress boots that are 45 years old and the leather is still supple and gorgeous. Also get them fully lined, takes longer to break in but they will last longer too.

    When I got my custom boots back in the 60s I knew they had to last a long time so I too selected dress boots and I was never sorry I did, as when I switched to dressage in the 70s they were totally appropriate. While they may not be in fashion, they are always correct in both hunters and jumpers (actually you will see dress boots in jumper classes sometimes) and in fact I prefer the look of them to black field boots. And until you're showing in FEI levels the dress boot will suffice for dressage shows too.

    As far as fluctuations in weight, there is a limit as to how far one pair of boots can stretch and I don't think its realistic to expect them to expand and shrink dramatically. You are probably better off getting them without zippers since they can be stretched a lot more without them, you can only stretch a zippered boot minimally without risking the zips breaking. Also, if you have such large calfs there might be more chance of the zippers breaking when your calf starts to expand and the boots become tighter.


    • #3
      1) Get Dehner
      2) Get French calf
      3) Get fully lined or 3/4 lined (leaves an unlined patch at the inside ankle.
      4) Unless you have an extremely high arch that would make 'turning the corner' impossible, get dress boots.
      5) There is no 'elastic down the back' in custom boots. When your weight fluctuates, do you really see more than a 1/4" diff in your calves? If so, have the boots measured with your heaviest breeches and socks if you're in a 'light' phase and in your regular breeches and socks if in a "heavy' phase. Elastic gussets at the top will allow your calves to get through the top of the boot and then snap back to give you a more fitted boot top.
      5) Vibram soles will last longer than leather. You lose a little feel on the sole of your foot, but that's a trade off for durability.
      ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
      Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

      "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


      • #4
        Der Dau will run elastic along the zippers for you. But they're probably going to be a bit more than you want to spend, though it's probably worth asking. Maybe they can do a custom leg and not customize the foot to make it more affordable?

        I have French calf Vogels. Instead of elastic, I had the laces run all the way up the front and zips in back. I didnt want to worry about taking the boots in after losing weight, or adding gussets later. The laces give the adjustability. They're gorgeous but probably too expensive.

        I've also heard good things about Dehner and Hadfields.
        Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kryswyn View Post
          . . . 4) Unless you have an extremely high arch that would make 'turning the corner' impossible, get dress boots.
          Although I didn't realize it as a teenager when I got my custom Dehner dress boots, I do have an extremely high arch, and while getting those boots on was hell once they were on they were extremely comfortable. Of course, getting them off was also a project.


          • #6
            This is apocryphal: Back in the '50's when horse showing was done primarily in the summer when foxhunting had stopped for the season, riders traditionally wore their ratcatcher clothing which included brown field boots. Then in the '60's, equitation became more of a 'thing' and the George created the 'ideal' equitation look: tall, leggy, elegant. Problem with that body type is that it comes with extremely high arches, which made those custom boots that George wanted on those loooooong legs impossible to get on. (Keep in mind, prior to the late '60's black dress boots were the norm and were NOT custom. They were short and often were loose in the calf so people could get them on.)

            Now I don't know that George was the first or only one who suggested that field boots be ordered in black, but certainly all his riders began sporting them (and didn't they look fabulous!)

            Now of course, they're must haves, although with the advent of zipper backs dress boots are becoming seen more often.

            If anyone knows George, you might ask him for his version.
            ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
            Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

            "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


            • Original Poster

              You know, this thread raises an interesting point. I have never actually worn a pair of dress boots . . . i wonder if maybe I won't be able to get them on?? Then what happens?
              I don't have incredibly high arches but i do have thick-ish ankles.
              Now i'm scared that I'll blow $1000 and have boots that still don't work.
              Click here for the Roxie blog!


              • #8
                Sirensong, that's why they're called CUSTOM. They're measured so that they fit. If you want to check prior to getting measured, have someone measure your ankle (at the point of your ankle bone) and then, while standing on the ball of your foot, have them place the tape measure around your heel to the front of your foot. Make a note of that measurement then slowly let your heel down letting the tape measure expand. Take another reading when your foot is flat on the floor. Average the two (ie 13.5" on ball, 14" flat = 13.75). That will usually end up with boots that fit snugly through the ankle.

                For the record, Dehner's measuring chart will only show a measure for the flat on the floor. The method above was developed by my former boss and used by myself on over 300 pairs of Dehners. I had an excellent record for fitting.

                Sometimes, a person's conformation resulted in very little difference between the two. But usually the higher the arch the bigger the difference. The higher the arch the more room needed to get through the 'corner'.
                ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                • Original Poster

                  Where would you write that measurement in on the Dehner custom-fit form?
                  Click here for the Roxie blog!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sirensong4 View Post
                    Where would you write that measurement in on the Dehner custom-fit form?
                    I would never take my own measurements, the best way to insure a good fit is to be measured by an expert, even if it entails some travel. And especially in your case, since it sounds as though you are not an easy fit, I would suggest making that effort.


                    • #11
                      What tack store is it? I see your in CDA....I may be able to help

                      Most important thing is to have someone measure you that KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Otherwise your boots won't be quite right.

                      Stay away from baby calf. Very beautiful and buttery soft, but if you are planning to ride in them every day they won't hold up.

                      As far as brand I would go with Dehners.


                      • #12
                        If you want to make a life-long investment on your boots, you can't do better than Dehner. The boots Dehner made for me in 1979 are still beautiful, and (after I had gussets put in) they still fit. I don't think Dehner will put elastic up the back of the boot for you, but you can ask.

                        My Dehners are front-and-back lined. This is a great compromise between full lining and cuff lining.

                        Be careful to get the tops you want. What Dehner calls "Spanish" tops aren't what most think of these days as Spanish tops. If you want the really high tops, order the Italian.

                        Dress boots are perfectly appropriate for all English disciplines. They are beautiful. If that's what you want, get them. Your boots are going to be hard to get off and on regardless, especially at first. They will be worth the inconvenience, believe me!

                        I'm with everyone else: be sure to get yourself measured by a pro. I can't overstate the importance of this.
                        I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne


                        • Original Poster

                          Oh I wasn't planning on measuring myself. You know what, though? The lady at my local tack shop that I *was* planning on using as my measurer . . . actually screwed up the measurements on my saddle when I was ordering a custom Toklat pad. THAT's $90 I'll never get back.
                          So. Where should I go to get measured?
                          I'm half an hour from Spokane, WA. 5 hours to Seattle or 6 to Portland. 8 to Boise. 7 to Vancouver. 4 to Missoula, MT. Or, I'll be in Southern California in February 2013.
                          Click here for the Roxie blog!


                          • #14
                            Call Dehner & see who they recommend based upon what you want - they'll be able to discuss leathers & styles & non-zip options


                            • #15
                              I got measured at Olson's in Bellevue (for Vogels.) The lady that measured me did a wonderful job and took measurements multiple times having me flex, relax, etc. Definitely recommend them. I think she does multiple brands?


                              • #16
                                I understand you have a GC for your local tack shop, so I guess you want to be measured there. But as Alto said, call Dehners and ask them if they recommend anyone at your store. If not, ask them who they recommend wherever they are.

                                Definitely don't measure yourself, but DO ask the person who measures you to do the measurement as I suggested, rather than just heel to front of foot with one leg crossed over the other. On the form you put that number on the diagonal measurement shown with the foot on the floor, which is number 4. If you get a wide range of measures, it's best to average them.

                                By the way, the HorsegirlTV video "how to order customs" with Jeff Ketzler was shot at Horse Country. Every other year or so he comes and measures between 40-60 people for boots. You can watch the video on the Dehner site. It's worth noting that Jeff is such a pro he can skip steps, but the person measuring you should NOT.
                                ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                                Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                                "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                                • #17
                                  I wouldn't get measured by anyone in Spokane

                                  Olson's has measured me for my last two pairs of Vogels. Both turned out great.

                                  Where in SoCal will you be?


                                  • Original Poster

                                    I can be anywhere between the Oregon/Nevada borders and San Diego. Driving down in February for my stupid brother's stupid wedding to his stupid fiancee. The whole thing is stupid.
                                    So if i can at least get measured for custom boots along the way, some good will come out of his eventual divorce.
                                    Sorry, TMI!!
                                    Click here for the Roxie blog!


                                    • #19
                                      Vogels are the best quality boots made. Best leather and they last. They can make whatever you want. If you have a high instep, Field Boots are probably the best. Unless you are willing to change your original thought about zippers. With zippers, anyone can wear dress boots. Nowadays most people are wearing zippers. They make your life much easier. I haven't really seen Dehners in the Hunter/Jumper world in ages.


                                      • #20
                                        The reason you will find more Vogels in the hunter ring and more Dehners in the hunt field is that Vogel glues their foot to the sole, so they don't have a lot of sole extending past the side of the foot making the foot look smaller. They also use a thinner sole. Dehner stitches the foot to the sole, which results in a sole wider than the boot (which happily results with less scarring on the sides of your foot) and their soles are thicker, making them more durable.

                                        But, really, NO one other than clique-y girls cares what brand of boots you buy. So make your decision based on your priorities and needs.
                                        ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                                        Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                                        "Life is merrier with a terrier!"