Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping … especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? While browsing for gear is fun, sometimes it’s just overwhelming to search through all of the products that are available for you and your horse. Companies featured in my posts have very generously provided me with their products, so that I may try them out and share my own experiences with all of you! Of course, every horse and rider is a unique individual, so each product may perform differently for you and your horse then it does for me—after all, different things work for different people (and horses!), and that is all part of the variety of life! This column is meant only for me to recount my personal journey, and share my own and my horse’s experiences with all of the exciting products featured. While I make no recommendations, I hope that you have fun and find entertainment while reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences might help give you factors to consider when you are on your own quest for new gear!
- Every great ride starts out by pulling on a seasoned and reliable pair of boots. I know that once I can FINALLY get a pair of tall boots broken in and perfectly molded to my feet, it feels like a victory in and of itself. When my well broken-in boots turn into just plain broken boots, it is always a point of despair. How can I bring myself to spend hour upon uncomfortable hour in the saddle, agonizing over the fact that I just can’t perfect my dressage test because of my blasted brand new boots.
- Sure, they might look great, BUT is my trainer, or even a judge for that manner, really going to overlook my sloppy posture because they are admiring my new pair of boots? I think we all know the answer to that question. So how did I move from a mindset of completely dreading breaking in a new pair of tall boots to not being able to wait until my next ride to wear them (and possibly even wanting to wear them in between rides)? The answer is simple — my feet have met the Tredstep Ireland Raphael boot.
So what really sets the Raphael apart from other dress boots? Pleased as I was when I cracked open the box, things only got better from there. In spite of my tried and true “anti-new tall boot” mantra, I was actually quite excited when I received my new pair of Raphael boots. Let’s just say that when I first pulled the top of the box up, the aroma of leather gave me goosebumps. I could not help but to be impressed when I opened up the box and found that each boot even came with it’s own inflatable boot tree and individual velvety storage bag (perfect for boots that don’t like to share with each other).
The Tredstep Ireland Pro Flex ankle design most definitely surpassed even my expectations; in fact, I didn’t really feel that the boots required on the ground break-in time. When my mind wanders back to think of other tall boots I have broken in, I unwillingly dredge up memories of having my ankles feel locked in place; BUT the Pro Flex design allowed my ankle full movement, right out of the box! A few of my other favorite features are the heavy duty zipper, the slim fit through the ankle and the square toe of the boot. The details are what set the Raphael boot apart for me. The quality and craftsmanship is simply unbelievable to me for the price point!
Enough about fashion — looks are great, but as we all know, performance in the saddle is what really counts. When I did take my first ride in my Raphael boots, they felt surprisingly comfortable. Instead of feeling awkward and stiff as a board, the boots felt like they hugged my legs. My first several rides in the Raphaels did help to break in the area behind the knee. I was able to accomplish this with only mild discomfort, and the boots felt much better behind the knees after logging several rides. As an aside, a pair of lifts were included with the boots to help with the break in. Originally, I had intended to ride in my Raphaels to get them broken in and then save them for showing only. BUT since I really enjoy riding in them, this notion disappeared faster then a tub full of horse cookies around the barn.
My Raphaels are my favorite pair of tall boots to ride in, and I do regularly school in them. Hey, just because I’m schooling doesn’t mean that my feet don’t deserve to look a little fancy, right? But in all seriousness, I specifically love to wear my pair when I’m schooling dressage. I do notice that with the slight dress boot stiffness to the leather, the boots actually help me to keep my legs quiet and in their correct position in the saddle. Maybe I feel like it would just be a tragedy to leave my Raphaels to sit around in their box waiting for their next show, or maybe my inner fashionista celebrates a little every time I pull them on … but I just know that MY pair log quite a bit of time in the saddle.
Even though at first glance, I remember being ever-so-slightly hesitant to starting wearing my brand new Raphael boots — I mean, they did look like works of art that should be on display (though the moment quickly passed, and I was in the saddle just as soon as I could throw on the boots and tack up one of my horses!). I can honestly say that I believe in the Tredstep Ireland Raphael boot. Not only are they lovely to look at, but they also feel fantastic on my feet, and they offer a simply stellar performance in the saddle. As an aside — I actually can’t wait until I wear out my current pair of field boots, so perhaps I will have an excuse to try out a pair of Tredstep Ireland‘s field boots. But I guess that will be a tad difficult to accomplish when I only seem to wear my Raphaels.
Go NEW Tall Boots (that aren’t a total pain to break in). Go Tredstep Ireland. Go Eventing.