You've just received a new pair of tall leather riding boots and you can't wait to wear them. But before you head out on your horse, you'll need to break them in. While it can be frustrating to have to complete this step first, you'll be glad you did in the long run. Properly breaking in riding boots can create a better fit, keep your feet much more comfortable and even reduce the risk of injury. Check out this guide to learn how to break in tall leather riding boots like a pro.
Condition the Leather
If the leather on your boots is stiff, it might be tight against your feet, heels, ankles and legs. The first step in breaking in your boots is to start conditioning the leather so that it becomes more supple and soft. Apply leather conditioner liberally, especially in any areas that are likely to rub against you the most (such as the back of the heel and ankle and at the top back edge of the boot that could come into contact with the back of the knee). Some boot companies have their own leather conditioner crafter specifically for the leather they use. Please use the conditioner suggested by the boot manufacturer.
Stretch the Leather
If the boots are still a little snug after conditioning the leather a few times, you may need to stretch them out a bit. But will leather riding boots stretch? You may be surprised to learn that you can definitely stretch the leather as long as you have the right tools on hand.
Apply a boot stretch spray, being sure to follow the directions on the bottle. Then, insert a boot tree into each boot. This will help stretch the boot to the point where it feels comfortable to wear.
Wear Them Everyday
Now that the boots are a bit more pliable, you can begin wearing them. Start by putting them on for everyday tasks, such as vacuuming the house or running errands (tres chic). This allows you to wear the boots for shorter periods of time before you actually ride in them. Your feet and calves will begin to get used to the boots and you can then determine if you need to stretch the boots further.
When you're wearing your boots for everyday activities, try to stand on a step with your heels hanging off the edge a bit. Allow your heels to lower over the edge as this mimics the position your feet and ankles will hold in the stirrup.
Should I Get My Boots Wet?
You may have heard that you should submerge your boots in water and wear them around while wet to break them in. That's a strategy that some riders use, but will void any warranty on the leather, stitching, and glue. These aren't mucking in the rain boots, they're boots for riding.
Use this guide to break in those boots so you can start wearing them while riding. Remember to keep your boots in good shape after they're broken in by regularly cleaning and conditioning the leather.