The manner of lacing up field boots for riding is called bal-lacing, which has its roots in the Balmoral boot, a style popular in the 1800s. This type of boot had opposing rows of eyelets flush with one another over the instep.
Because putting on and removing riding boots requires the greatest looseness at the midpoint of the ankle joint, it’s most effective to have the laces loosen at the center rather than at the top or bottom, hence the unusual lacing pattern.
Here’s how you thread the new lace:
1. Holding your boot so the toe faces you, thread one end of the lace through the top right eyelet from the outside, passing it diagonally (shown in gray) across so it exits the bottom left eyelet from underneath. Draw the lace taught, keeping the ends equal length.
2. The bottom (blue) end of the lace is passed across to the bottom eyelet on the other side, over to under.
3. The end is crossed diagonally to the second eyelet on the left, under to over.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to the middle right eyelet, leaving the end loose.
5. The top (yellow) end of the lace is similarly passed across then zigzagged under from the top set of eyelets down to the middle ones.
This article originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.