Sometimes we simply have too many choices. If you google "cowboy boots" you'll see every brand from Justin, Ariat, Tony Lama, Lucchese, Laredo, Durango, Dan Post, Rampage, Corral, Old West to Stetson, Double H, Nocona, Lane Boots, Smoky Mountain Boots, and WAY too many more. And, if this is your first time buying, you may get frustrated and opt to buy the cheapest thing on eBay. While you can always just switch back to your tennis shoes after your horseback ride, I would suggest you take these few tips I'm offering and find the right pair. You'll be much more comfortable on the horse, walking around the ranch, and dancing your tail off on our barn dance nights.
1. Go for comfort before looks.
2. Choose slip-ons over lace-ups. I wear lace-ups when I work but not when I ride. We never want this to happen, but if you get in a fix and come off the horse, you want boots that slip off if your foot gets hung in the stirrup. Don't risk it.
3. Go for size and tread. Fat-Baby boots are just too fat--your foot won't be able to slide in and out of your stirrup. Leather or completely smooth treads are wonderful for dancing but not for walking in the mountains. You'll need rubber soles with some tread, so you'll be able to keep pressure in your stirrups without sliding. And, you'll also be able to walk well to and from the barn and on breaks during your ride.
4. Choose a boot that makes you feel good. I, personally, prefer Ariat boots, square and round toed. I also love to match brown boots with a brown hat and belt. Then, I'll match the black boots with a black hat and belt. However, if this is your first time buying cowboy boots, definitely don't spend the money to buy both a brown and black pair. Find what style and size suits you best, and then grow your collection from there.
5. Getting the right size helps. If you get the right size, your boot really shouldn't need much "breaking in." Remember that your foot should slip slightly in the heel when you walk while still allowing the ball of your foot to sit in the widest part at the back of the boot when you're standing.
6. The perfect sock makes a better boot. I've had friends ride in boots and ankle socks--the rubs and blisters are nasty. You want a sock that not only fits high but that never slips. It's a hard combo to find. I wear Dan Post socks, they fit just under my knee, and I've never had one slip down.
Whatever brand, style or size you end up choosing, make sure it's what YOU want. Comfortable, pretty or not, you'll be the one wearing it. If you find this post helpful or think of other great tips for choosing the perfect boot, leave your comments here. We'd love to hear what has worked best for you!