Ding dong the boots are dead

You may remember last year’s edition: Ding Dong the Watch is Dead. Apparently I kill one essential piece of equipment per year? This time, unfortunately, it’s a big ticket item: my tall boots.

HHPro4cropped

I’m pretty sad about this, because I like my boots. I nabbed a pair of Ariat Monacos brand new off of eBay 5 years ago for under $400, and they’ve fit me perfectly from day 1. They haven’t been very durable though, having already required various repairs 3 times. Still, they’re really flattering and pretty and fairly comfortable, so I’ve tried to baby them a bit. Sadly, apparently Arizona was the last straw.

I noticed on XC day that I managed to have a blowout (for like the one millionth time with these boots) at the left ankle, where the fabric of the zipper had come unsewn from the boot itself. I was sporting a pretty nice gap for all of Coconino. We’ll call it airflow.

Then, on the very next wear, I noticed that on the inside of the right boot the stitching had separated on a seam in two places, leaving two holes in that boot as well. Two legs, three new air vents. I also noticed that the sole is starting to separate on the edges of both boots. Well crap. At this point they’ve been repaired so many times, and the leather itself is getting really ragged and torn up, I don’t really think it’s worth it to keep trying to repair them. More blowouts seem inevitable, and I’d hate for one to happen at a really inopportune time.


I think I can coax them through the fall season since I’ve only got a couple shows planned, but I’ll need to get something new in the off season. The only question is… what do I get? I hate tall boot shopping. Luckily I’m very average sized, calf and foot and proportion-wise, but I like a boot that is a little bit too tall. Plus it’d be nice to have something that wasn’t super boring. I really want some of these bad boys:

But there’s no way custom or semi-custom boots are in the budget.

My favorite off the rack option that I’ve seen so far are the Mountain Horse Sovereign, although I’m not sure they’re as tall as I want. I haven’t really seen anything else that catches my eye so far, nor have I actually tried anything on.

So – what are your favorite options for tall boots under $400ish that have at least something a little bit fun about them (even if it’s just a damn square toe), have a tall option or run tall, are pretty, have a slim ankle, and will last? Ready, go.

35 thoughts on “Ding dong the boots are dead

  1. Well that sucks royally. I hate when that happens. HA I don’t have a fancy pair of boots but i have a pair of Donatallo Tredsteps Field Boots that I actually got for 100 bucks at the Dover Tent sale a few years ago (it honestly was the steal of the day I think). I think they retail for about 300.

    I actually now wear my Tuffrider Boots more (THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR SPENDING MORE OF MY MONEY AGAIN LOL) cause they are so stinking comfy and I don’t show as much as you 🙂 BUT I would take a look at the Donatallos if i were you. They are nice and elegant looking (When I wear them). And they come in a tall version as well I think. Anyway worth a look at I am sure others will have fancier and better ones to recommend! I have had compliments on them when I do wear them.

    YOU love to shop so enjoy 🙂 HA. And maybe black duct tape to get you through the Fall? HA

    Speaking of my Tuffriders I am pretty sure they are going to end up falling apart one day. I cant believe they are still in one piece!

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    1. PS I like the look of those Mountain Horse ones you like, you should take a look at them and let us know what you think!

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  2. Second to the Tredstep Donatellos- Not sure if they have something “fun” to them but they should meet all your other criteria! Tredstep Da Vinci’s have a square toe, I believe.

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  3. Eiki custom boots have some fun options although they come in a little over budget at $450 not including shipping. I’ve heard a lot of people are happy with them and I’ve been drooling over them for some time

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    1. I’m waiting to see how a couple people’s boots turn out before I consider them. I’ve seen them have issues getting the height right, and I really can’t handle a too-short boot.

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      1. Yeah I should have mine soon, so I’ll definitely give some feedback. After shipping and several custom options they came to $583 and some change.

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  4. I would suggest touching base with Olivia at Hellomylivia. She has 2 pairs of the MH boots (brown and black) and she is pretty tall, so I’m sure she can help you with any height questions, as well as fit.

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  5. SOVEREIGNS ARE THE BEST. Legit my favorite tall boots that I’ve ever owned- like Jenn said, I have two pairs. I was also worried about the height, and tried on roughly 100 different kinds in search of something tall enough (I’m pushing 5’10” and most of that height is in my legs, I am part giraffe), and the Sovereigns were the only ones that I felt were truly tall enough (in the tall option obvi). The tab on the side is super tall too, which I definitely like, and the ankle is nice and slim. They’ve held up fantastically to being used and abused for the last year and show no signs of slowing down. They’re super pretty to boot- people stop me at shows regularly to ask about them, and never believe me when I say they’re MH. I really can’t say enough good things about these boots, they’ve fulfilled my need for pretty, quality, well-fitting boots at a really good price. If something happens to mine, I’m def getting the same pair again.

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  6. I can’t even look at the mountain horse boots because I’ve been cursed with size 9.5 feet on a 5’3″ tall body, I’m pretty sure they would go over my knees. Makes me sad because they are so beautiful! I bought some Horze Crescendo boots this spring and am so far happy with them. They were under $300 and have super cute details, patent piping on all the seams and a little metal dohicky on the tabs. Not sure what the height options are…but they fit the cute and affordable requirements!

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  7. ugh the one you posted is so pretty. i hate tall boot shopping so so so much. im having a serious case of droopy zipper on my current pair and im using hair ties to keep them up. super classy.

    i dont have any advice for you unfortunately. as i have the fattiest, squattest calves of any rider that ever lived apparently and NOTHING fits. mountain horse boots do fit stupidly tall on me, so maybe that’ll work for you?

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  8. The MH’s should be plenty tall enough for you! I ride in a pair of their reg/reg’s and they are fairly tall for a regular height. My coach also has a pair in tall and they fit her well and she is in the tall’s.

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  9. Cavallo Insignias. They come in about a million different heights, and you can get the top customized for like 30 euros extra. If you buy them from a European store, they’re about $250-300 less than they retail for in the US. Ping me if you want to see mine in person.

    Alternatively you could try on the Ariat Volants. I liked mine a lot – super comfortable boot – but they weren’t stiff enough for me. Maybe they’d work for you though?

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  10. Lurker here popping on to say Mountain Horse is on sale at Zulily.com today. Not a huge selection, by any means, but maybe there’s something there that’ll suit. Good luck!

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  11. The Mountain Horse Sovereign you picked out looks pretty stylish, in my opinion. When I was shopping I was looking at the Cavallo Carbon Boots (a carbon coating and silver thread in the soles? whoa), but they were out of my price range and I have huge, chunky calves… I ended up with the Tredstep Donatello instead (had to order plus size, darn these calves!) and I really like them, so I’d say take a look at them, too.

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  12. Darn, what a bummer! I’ve been riding in the same pair of Ariat field boots for 15 years with no repairs. Maybe they were made better back then? My friend just got the Mountain Horse boots you posted and they are beautiful and fit her perfectly. She said they needed zero break-in time, too.

    Are you watching Olympic Cross-Country right now?? It is streaming here: http://stream.nbcolympics.com/equestrian-eventing-individual-team-cross-country

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  13. I’m a huge fan of Mountain Horse. I’m not average size and a total PIA to fit. For that reason, I’m a huge fan of Mountain Horse boots. I feel like they are practically indestructible. My last pair set me back about $400, and felt really good right from the start before completely breaking in. They broke in fairly quickly, and have held up really well for the last 3 years. They look as good as the day I bought them.

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  14. They maybe don’t fit your criteria for something fun, but I really like the Ariat Heritage Contour Zip Field Boots. You can choose the calf height (short/med/tall) and the calf width (x-slim/slim/med/wide/x-wide) so you can get a pretty custom fit for any size and shape of leg. The elastic beside the zipper seems to be good at keeping the boot shape contoured to your leg to give you a slim ankle etc. Also the quality and durability for the price seems excellent.

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  15. I like the look of the MH’s, and they’re cut pretty tall in regular calf. Your local Dover might have a pair you could try on to see if you like the height. HKM makes a few varieties of boot that are reasonably priced and tall, as does TuffRider. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the TuffRider Regals, surprisingly.

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      1. I feel your pain. I need a 21″ which is super hard to find anyway…and then I need a wide calf. That isn’t an off the rack boot. Sigh

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  16. Speaking of poor timing, currently watching the last bit ox Rio XC and watching Aleksandr Markov ride most of the course with his whole boot flapping, so you’re in good company I guess?

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  17. For slim through the calf boots, I would look at Tredstep or Mountain Horse. Both of those brands also come in tall height. I like the looks of some of the Ariat boots, but I am just skeptical of the durability of most of them. Particularly the zippers, which have been an issue I’ve had with the Ariat boots I’ve owned. Also, general workmanship has not been great on any Ariat boots I’ve owned in the last 10 years or so.

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  18. i like my tredsteps well enough but they fit kinda weird around the calf, and i’ve heard that often enough from others to think that it’s just their design. sad bc they are nice looking, comfortable, and stand up to all my (extremely excessive) abuse… but the weird calf fit is just… weird. idk. i love the look of those mountain horses tho and have had my eye on some of their other boots for a while.

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  19. Boots… I hate finding new boots. As you know I invested in some parlantis from Europe and love them. I really almost wish I hadn’t gone down that road because I have never worn more comfortable boots.

    Now I just need to lose a ton of weight so I can maybe get he la mundials from
    Hell to fit me.

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  20. So Devon-Aire came out with a BEAUTIFUL field boot last year, the Signature Granda. Actually made in Europe of Italian calfskin and it retailed for only $450. Soft, easy to break in and super comfy. But unfortuately, most riders today shop brand name rather than quality and it was hard to compete with Ariat, etc., even though other brands sold for more and were not as nice. Long story short, they were discontinued and Dover bought out the inventory. They are on closeout. You may want to check them out.

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  21. I feel like Ariat’s quality has really gone downhill in recent years. My paddock boots are dead after one year of fairly light use. I certainly didn’t baby them (they are paddock boots after all), but I also didn’t expect the leather to crack all the way through on the toes, and then to have the soles also separate. My Ariat tall boots are doing a bit better, but I also baby them quite a bit more. I think I will go with the Mountain Horse boots myself when I need a new pair.

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    1. I agree about Ariat’s quality. Western rider here, so I’ve owned three different pairs of their pro-baby western style boots over the last 10+ years. Mine always bust around the ball of my foot after 2 or 3 years, so when the pair I bought last spring busted across the arch of my foot before a year, I totally utilized that 1 year warranty. I’d also babied the new pair more than either of the old pairs since I have the rubber muck boots for winter now. :/ So now I don’t know what boots to buy.

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