If you’re an eventer, there are a lot of things that define you but none so much as your enthusiasm for the cross country phase. As such, our passion involves getting super serious about the gear that we invest in for the safety and well-being of our horses for the physically and mentally challenging course requirements.
In this day and age, we are constantly searching for the perfect boot that will meet all of our protection requirements, fail to empty our bank account, and let’s be honest, look good while doing all of the above.
I recently had the opportunity to try the new Professional’s Choice Pro Performance XC Boot, and was delighted to find that it met almost all of my boot criteria, which is a hard sell, as I’m pretty picky as to what I put on the legs of my horses. My rating for boots comes down to these categories: durability, rub prevention, breathability, water resistance, strike protection, form fit, price, and appearance. Let’s break it down.
To start, the Pro Performance XC Boot offers a mesh outer layer that offers a lightweight rip stop surface, which means that while it doesn’t hold water and remains breathable, it’s still just as tough as a solid outer wall. The lightness of the boots struck me first thing when I pulled them out of the box, they feel almost like air. However, one is not to be disheartened by the seemingly lightweight nature of the boots, because they are plenty durable.
I have had them for several weeks and have taken them jumping in all sorts of situations, competed in them several times, run them through the washing machine, and even had a horse whack a cross country jump quite hard (unintentional, whoops!). They look brand new and haven’t got a mark on them through all of the trials and tribulations.
Inside of the boot is a neoprene non-slip lining that keeps the boots in place, but doesn’t cause rubbing. I have two of the biggest skin babies out there, and I have used these boots on both horses, and nary a rub in sight. Chestnut skin combined with sand and water can be a lethal combination, and I have not found issue with the rubbing factor yet.
Another big concern we have when booting our horses is the breathability, as studies and common sense have shown that heating up tendons for any period of time is just asking for injury. For any given ride, a boot can be on the horse for an hour or even more, and during the competition season, temperatures outside can get pretty high, but you want to be able to keep the leg cool.
I’ve been pleasantly rewarded by using the Pro Performance XC Boots during the spring and summer season, and throughout have found that the breathability rates amongst the highest of all the boots that I use.
Of course for cross country, we need boots that can go through the water complex a few times and hold their position, but not the water itself. A boot that retains water gets heavy, which interferes with your horse’s mobility, as well as causing slippage for the duration of the ride afterwards. The Pro Performance XC Boots seem no different in their weight after many gallops through the water than when you first put them on, and this was integral to their success.
Professional’s Choice has employed a very high quality thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) in the creation of the strike guard on these boots, which is flexible enough to conform to the shape of the leg, but very clearly hard enough to maintain a rigid protective wall upon impact. You can squeeze the boots and feel the strength of the TPU strike guards, but you can also fit them comfortably to an irregularly shaped leg without incurring discomfort.
I used these boots on my big red horse multiple times, and he has one front leg with a lovely ugly splint from years ago, which sometimes can be cause for an ill fitted boot situation, and found that it conformed nicely to both his regular legs and his lumpy leg. The velcro latches are easily adjusted for different legs, and can be tightened without worry of damage.
For all of these requirements, cross country boots with their new technology can get pretty pricey, and ultimately spending a small fortune on a boot that will immediately be run through disgusting water and banged about can feel quite sad. The Professional’s Choice Pro Performance XC Boots run on the very reasonable side, retailing for $89.95 per pair, putting them alongside some of the most affordable choices you can make for your cross country safety.
Finally, as I’m somewhat of a diva in this way, I like to be able to find boots that come in a few different colors, and I’m partial to white. The white boots I used have maintained their brilliant white throughout, and look very snazzy in photos. There’s just nothing like a photo of a horse jumping wonderfully with some white boots to bring a smile to my face.
The Professional’s Choice Pro Performance XC Boots rate amongst the highest in all categories to my liking, as well as coming with a 30-day money back guarantee, and a six month warranty.