Even though I have years of experience working with and riding horses, I have not experimented with different kinds of boots. In Paraguay, I owned one pair of tall boots, and in Oregon, I owned one pair of tall boots. And that was enough for me... for a while. I really like wearing tall boots when riding. I think that it makes sense to school in the boots that you will compete in and I didn't really see the sense in owning multiple pairs of boots. That being said, this summer has been unnaturally hot here in Oregon and my tall boots just were not working out for me. I really wanted paddock boots that I could pair with half chaps for riding, but when I was just working around the barn I could wear on their own and not be overheated.
When it comes to boots I really don't like to spend a lot of money, but after trying on a cheap pair of paddock boots (in the $30 range) I realized that if I wanted something that I could wear all day I would have to go with a reputable and comfortable brand. Once I made that choice, it was really easy for me to pick what brand of boots I wanted to go with: Ariat. I own a pair of fashion "equestrian" boots made by Ariat that are cute and really comfortable. I had been using them for riding (even though they are not meant for that - you can tell by the zipper design) and they did work for that purpose, although the zipper got in the way. Ariat boots are known for being long-lasting and well-designed. There is a reason that about half of the people at my barn own Ariat boots, and the reason is that they are really great. It also probably doesn't help that the only tack shop in my area is a Wilco that pretty much only sells Ariat boots (the downside of living in Oregon is that western riding is so prevalent that it is really hard to get English riding gear).
I knew that I wanted Ariat paddock boots, and I knew that I would have more choices and better prices if I ordered them online, so I went on Amazon and went with the cheapest Ariat paddock boots that I could find. I ended up ordering the Ariat Scout Zip Paddock Boot. They cost me $80 from Amazon but usually cost $90. That is a really good deal for a high-quality boot. It's not a small amount of money, but considering that boots easily run in the hundreds, under $100 is a steal.
I believe that the Ariat Scout Zip Paddock boots only come in black and that is what I ordered. When it comes to boots, I think that black is the only color to go with. Black goes with everything, and the problem with brown is that there are so many different browns that it is almost impossible to match your boots to your saddle to your half chaps. Black is simple, because while there can be differentiation of the shades, mostly black is black.
In terms of sizing, since I own another pair of Ariat boots I knew that I should order a half size up. This gives me enough wiggle room that I am able to wear warm fluffy socks in the winter. Ariat boots tend to run a little bit small, so even if you don't want to wear thicker socks with your boots I would still recommend going a half size up.
The boots are made out of full-grain leather, and unlike many leather products, they were able to get worn in quickly. I had very little break-in time with these boots. The first day I wore them, the leather was a little bit stiff, but there was no chafing, I got zero blisters, and by the end of the day they had molded to my feet and were totally comfortable. I've owned them for several weeks now and they haven't continued to shift, but rather stay molded to my foot. The leather has some nice touches to it, like the embossed Ariat label on the front and the tongue of the boot. The boots also have a really nice stitching pattern. I think that they look elegant for a paddock boot. I know that the plain, rounded toe cap is not in-style right now, but I like the look of rounded toe caps (I think that the squared ones look rather severe).
|Wearing my boots at work|
The sole of the boot is made out of Duratread rubber. The rubber itself seems to be good quality. I have noticed no cracks forming in the rubber - BUT the stitching in one of my boots that attaches the rubber sole to the upper part of the boot has started pulling out a bit. It is only in one boot and it was perhaps a quarter of an inch of thread coming out of the rubber. I cut it off to hopefully prevent it from pulling out more and haven't noticed any more issues with it. I worry that this might impact the lifespan of my boot, but since it seems to be holding together well I'm thinking that maybe it was just excess thread? If my boots fall apart on me I'll be sure to update this to let you know.
|Duratread rubber soles|
When researching these boots, I found that Ariat really boosts about something called 4LR Technology that is used in this boot, as well as other boots in their line. 4LR stands for "Four Layer Rebound" and basically it is just the footbed within the boot. It is supposed to provide more comfort, support, and stability within the boot. Honestly, I have not spent that much time thinking about the footbed of my shoes before, so don't really know that much about this technology, but I can say that these boots are really comfortable. I work and ride at my barn at least 5 days a week and sometimes am out there for 8 hours at a time and I can wear these boots while working, walking around, and riding without any discomfort. So if that is due to this technology, well then, I tip my hat to you Ariat, keep up the good work!
I did also buy Perri's Zipper Half Chaps to wear with my new paddock boots when riding. I may do a separate review on them at some point, but honestly, they just aren't exciting enough for me to want to write about. They seem to be wearing down more quickly than I would prefer and so my intuition is that they will not last long. I won't order them again, but will probably spend a little bit more money and get either leather or synthetic leather half chaps, because I think that the reason the Perri's half chaps are getting so worn is because they are made out of a suede-like material that just isn't tough enough.
|Ariat paddock boots paired with Perri's half chaps|
In summary, these boots are awesome. Granted, they are the first paddock boots that I've owned, but they do their job, they fit me well, they are really comfortable, they look nice, and they were at a great price point. I'd definitely recommend the Ariat Scout Zip Paddock boots and now am saving up to be able to buy a pair of Ariat tall boots!