Last year I decided to splurge on a new pair of schooling boots; my beloved, eighteen year old Petries weren’t up to snuff any longer. For shows, I have a pair of custom Dehners , and although I’m happy with them, I thought I’d go with something different for daily wear. After some serious tack store and catalogue shopping where I tried everything from Ariats to Vogels, I began to get frustrated. I’ve got a very high arch, small ankles, and a long leg – and I wasn’t able to find anything off the rack that fit well. Just as I was about ready to give up and sacrifice my Dehners to the schooling gods, I stumbled across a Wellington saddler carrying a Dutch brand called Derby. Although unfamiliar with that particular boot maker, their offerings looked nice so I thought I’d give ‘em a go.
A couple of weeks later, my new boots arrived. After some deliberation, I’d chosen an alligator skin, front-zip dressage boot from Derby’s “Safety” line. The “Safety” boots come with steel toes and a reinforced (no-slip) Goodyear rubber sole. For me, this is ideal because I’ve got a couple of BIG young Holsteiners who aren’t terribly cautious about where they put their feet. Since getting the boots, I’ve been stepped on a few times, and haven’t felt a thing!
I went with alligator rather than calfskin or the traditional cow hide because I wanted something durable and unique – but still elegant – that had a short break-in period. Both my Dehners and my Petries took simply ages to soften up, and since all my horses are youngsters, I didn’t want to risk my leg lacking feel or flexibility if I needed to make any “evasive maneuvers” when riding. Luckily for me, the Derby boots felt soft and broken-in right out of the box. The only issue I encountered was some heel rubbing. I’ve since changed from nylon to cotton boot socks, and have added a moleskin heel pad to the inside of the right boot. So far, that seems to have fixed the problem.
My biggest complaint regarding this particular pair of boots has to do with durability. After only a year or so of regular, daily use, the inside calf has begun to wear through. I suspect, although I’m not certain, that this has more to do with my material choice than with the quality of the boot. When I ordered them, I assumed alligator would wear better than cow hide . . . which it hasn’t. However, with a price point of close to $1000, I would expect some sort of reinforcement through the calf to offset the hide’s softness.
Other than that one issue, the boots have continued to hold up – including the zippers, which can often start to stick or wear after a time. In addition, they fit exceptionally well, and have the high French tops, and tapered ankles that I need. Although I probably wouldn’t pay this much for another pair of schooling / clinic boots in the future, I would order from Derby for unique show boots: their patent leather options and exotic skins (stingray, gator, and ostrich anyone?) are absolutely gorgeous.
You can visit their Website here: http://www.derby.nl/index.php/en/
Be forewarned: The site isn’t particularly well-written, and it reads as if they used Google Translate when composing the text.
– Piaffe Girl