BY ANNIE BIRMINGHAM
It’s no secret that a pair of quality tall boots is a significant, albeit necessary, investment. With the base price of a quality off-the-rack boot often beginning somewhere around the thousand dollar mark, it is expected that this investment will pay off over time, lasting for years before eventually needing repairs or replacing. However, if you’re among those hoping your boots will last a lifetime, a good amount of elbow grease is needed to keep them in top shape. Frequent cleaning and polishing keep the leather protected in order to lengthen its lifespan. Here are some tips on how to clean and polish your boots like a pro.
While many ensure that their boots are polished before mounting up for a lesson, it is often forgotten to utilize a leather cleaner to remove any dust and dirt that may have been left behind after a ride. A personal favorite is Fiebing’s All Purpose Boot Cleaner, which quickly removes dirt and buildup. Apply a quarter-size amount of the product to a towel or rag, and apply to all areas of the boot. By frequently using a boot cleaner, you can guarantee the prevention of salt stains and water spotting, as well as protect the leather against the molding, drying, and cracking.
After a good cleaning, it is recommended to use a quality boot polish to shine your boots. While most brands have their own line of boot care products (including Parlanti and Tucci), I’ve found that what works the best for me is a simple tin of Der Dau Wax Shoe Polish, found at most local tack shops. Use a small tack cleaning sponge to apply the polish to all areas of your boots, excluding the calf area. If you apply polish to the calf, your boots will be too slippery the next time you ride.
After polishing, the final step is to buff your freshly polished boots in order to achieve that much-desired shine. While this can be done with a towel or rag, I’ve found that the simplest and most effective method is to use a Fluff Monkey, a uniquely shaped “puff” made of microfiber fabrics and designed with multiple functions, ranging from grooming and bathing your horse to shining your boots. Furthermore, Fluff Monkey’s can even be customized in your barn colors, and come on a durable key-ring to attach to your ring bag for easy accessibility, whether back at the barn or right before you walk through the in-gate.
After you’ve completed this process, it’s important to ensure that your boots are stored appropriately when not in use in order to prevent any potential damage. The use of a boot bag and boot trees is highly recommended to maintain the quality of the leather for years to come. While multiple options are out there for specific brands (such as Parlanti, Ariat, Noble Outfitters, and more), any version at any price point will do the job. Furthermore, boot trees are equally important to help your boots maintain their shape while not in use. Cedar, plastic, or inflatable options will all do the trick in order to prevent unnecessary creasing and wear and tear to the leather.
This process, while time consuming, is vital to preserving your boots for years to come. In following these tips and tricks, you can expect your tall boots to last the test of time.