Last time, we began considering Western footwear as it relates to both safety and function in the show arena. Now, let's look at some fit and style issues.
When it comes to boot comfort, don't get a Cinderella complex. Remember Cinderella's sisters trying to cram on the glass slipper? Bad idea, even for a great deal on your dream ostrich show boots. Make sure your show boots are truly comfortable by either buying them from a store that offers expert fitting, or using a brand and size that you've worn comfortably in the past. You'll have your show boots on from sunup 'til way past dark some days, so don't hobble yourself with anything less than a perfect fit.
On the style front, Western boots, along with hats, are the two symbols of "real cowboys." Whether you choose an exotic leather in a wild color, or simple boots that can carry you into the show ring or the grocery store, the shape and detailing of Western boots add spice to your presentation and are a source of pride for most anyone who appreciates "ranch dressing."
But think about this: only the toe of your boot will show when you ride, so go for sensible and simple show boots and save up your bucks for some dancin' boots or extra entry fees. Think about how your boot will look peeking out from under your chaps, through your wide stirrup, and next to your horse's shoulder, then choose something classic that will fill your needs.
A basic roper style boot (semi-rounded toe with low tops) with leather soles is the all-around best bet for showing. They are relatively inexpensive, safe in your stirrups and fit great under the slim leg of your chaps. Ropers are also the most popular style of boot on the market, so there's a tremendous variety of colors, leathers, and prices. Moderate roper heels are also comfortable to walk in, for those who show in halter or showmanship. Lacer boots are our second choice for show boots, but remember to remove the kiltie (fringed panel at the bottom of the laces) to eliminate bulk under the south edge of your chaps. Don't spend lots of time and money trying to find fancy boots for wearing in the show ring--they simply don't add much to the overall impression.
Because your boots show only their toes in the ring, color matching boots to chaps or show pants is not as critical as you might think. Coordinate your boot tone to your chaps or your horse's shoulder color by either buying the correct color boots, or having a shoe repair shop re-dye an existing pair of boots. Make sure you keep extra dye for touch-ups, and don't worry about the tops of the boots--they'll never show in the ring. Of course, no matter what you spend for show boots, they should be freshly polished with good shoe polish and lots of elbow grease for each show day, and dusted with a dry, clean cloth before each class.
Remember, you'll never get a second chance to make a first impression, so strive to create a winning impression the moment you step into the ring!
Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Writing or riding, Suzanne Drnec enjoys horses and their people. Drnec is president of Hobby Horse Clothing Company, a show apparel manufacturer, and also the caretaker of an assortment of lawn ornaments including a Paint, a Quarter Horse and an antique Arabian.