Tall, Dark & Worth It
Many equestrians are willing to sacrifice comfort for style, but I’ve never been one of them. I’ve tried to grit my teeth and ride through the annoyances of tall boots that pinched my ankles, rubbed the back of my knees, or cut off circulation to my toes. None of those boots remain in my closet today, regardless of their original price tag.
Whenever I shop for boots these days, I remind myself: What you wear impacts how well you ride, and I want to ride as well as I can.
Luckily, performing at my best doesn’t mean spending a fortune or waiting six months for custom-made show boots. The proof is my Ariat V Sport Zip tall riding boots.
Quick Look: Ariat V Sport Boots
This is the most comfortable tall boot I’ve ever worn, and the lovely design is just a bonus. It’s casual enough for schooling, but dressy enough for the show ring.
What We Love:
- Super comfortable right out of the box
- Design and finish is gorgeous
- Several leather styles adds visual interest
- Sturdy sole and spur rests
- Suitable for dressage and jumping
What We Don’t:
- Regular shaft runs tall (I’m 5’6 and got short shaft)
- Calves are a bit roomy
An Overdue Boot Upgrade
When the team at Ariat reached out to chat about the gear I use (or wish I did), I mentioned that my two pairs of “well loved” field boots had certainly seen better days. They were both purchased second-hand, and neither actually fit that well.
I still have a little black dress from college. It brings up many fond memories, the fabric feels great, and it magically continued to fit as I moved (far) away from my youth body. That’s what I longed for in tall riding boots, too.
Every time I pull them on, I want to feel comfortable, confident, and competent. Whether in a lesson or the show arena, my ideal boots will come along for the ride — for many years to come.
As I thought about what I was looking for, priorities included:
- Comfortable enough to wear all day (not just an hour)
- Nice enough for shows, but practical enough for road riding
- Durable and well-made so I didn’t throw money away
- Flexible calf, ankle, and back-knee fit
- Easy-on zipper access
Ariat’s V Sport Zip tall boots had the athletic-yet-modern look I liked, and they seemed to align with my other priorities. But you never know if what you read online will prove true in real life.
5 Reasons to Love V Sport
I Never Want to Take Them Off
Traditionally, one of the first things I do after a ride is pull off my tall boots and breathe a sigh of relief. My muck boots are simply more comfortable to wear around the barn, even when there isn’t a drop of mud in sight. Until now, that is.
Ariat’s V Sport boots are ergonomically designed to cushion your feet, stabilize your leg, and mold their fit to your body more every time you wear them.
The result is a boot that’s so comfortable right out of the box that you never want to take them off. (I briefly considered sleeping in them, but that seemed a step too far.) Plus, they only get more comfortable with time.
These boots feature Ariat’s Advanced Torque Stability (ATS®) technology to support your feet, promote better posture, and reduce fatigue during long days at the barn. Plus, the moisture-wicking gel footbed, full-leather lining, and elasticized instep mean they feel more like wearing your favorite sneakers than stiff show boots.
Ready to try them? Click to see the V Sport Zip Boots at Ariat.com.
They’re (Far) More Flexible Than I Am
Flexibility isn’t one of my personal traits, physically or mentally. (They say acceptance is the first step.) What I lack in myself, though, I desperately crave in tall riding boots.
Historically, I struggled with tall boots that crease painfully at the ankle, jab the back of my knees when I ride, or rub the back of my heels. I’m not only talking about new boots, mind you — even well-worn secondhand boots have done the same things.
The moment I slipped on these boots, though, it felt like they enveloped my ankles in the perfect hug — not too tight, but not too loose either.
Here’s what I love most about the fit:
- The ankle: Instead of a solid leather panel over the ankle, these contoured boots feature a series of ergonomic sections joined by elastic. I can squat down to rummage around my tack trunk, sink my heels in the saddle, and drive my car without any ankle discomfort. #itsamiracle
- The calf: A full-length elasticized panel on the lateral side helps the shaft mold to your calf, even as your musculature ebbs and flows.
- The topline: The high Spanish-cut top edge is contoured for maximum comfort in front of and behind your knee, without sacrificing a sleek profile appearance. Plus, it features a snap-over cover to hide the zipper.
A Few Notes About Sizing:
One of the best things about Ariat’s V Sport Zip tall boots is how much you can customize the fit. The shaft height comes in short, medium, and tall. (I’m 5’6 and chose short to ensure comfort around my knees.)
You can also select from seven calf widths, including extra slim, slim, regular, full, wide, and extra wide. (I’m 120 lbs and chose regular.)
I Can Go From Lessons to the Show Arena
My aspirations don’t include competing Grand Prix dressage in the Olympics, but I love taking lessons, riding in clinics, and entering an occasional local show.
I don’t want boots that look too formal during my lessons, or too casual when I head to a show. The V Sport fits in seamlessly in any arena.
Maybe it’s the mix of leather textures or how the panels join together, but I simply love the look of these boots. I don’t feel self-conscious wearing them in everyday lessons, but I wouldn’t hesitate to dust them off and enter a dressage or jumping show either.
They Don’t Infuriate Me
I know I’m not the only one who has silently (or not so silently) cursed trying to pull off tall riding boots. Pretty sure I’m also not the only one who has started a ride with perfectly positioned spurs only to find them sinking three inches during the course of a lesson.
It’s almost like (gasp!) actual equestrians designed these boots.
The full-length back zipper makes getting the V Sport on and off a painless and profanity-free process. There’s even a little leather flap on the inside of the heel so the zipper doesn’t catch your socks or rub your skin off.
Sturdy spur rests on both sides also keep everything in place, meaning you can be confident that your spur will still be where you need it heading toward that big vertical or asking for that flying change.
I Stay Safe
If you’ve been on Horse Rookie much at all, you’ll know I’m a huge safety girl. I believe in helmets (#everyrideeverytime), wearing footwear with safety heels, using quick-release stirrups, and — ya know — educating myself so I can be an effective rider.
These boots have a solid heel and durable sole to keep me safe in the saddle and around the barn.
No Boot is Perfect
Good luck finding a truly perfect boot, but you can get pretty close. There are a few things I don’t love about the V Sport, but none of them outweigh the benefits so far. For example:
- Though nowhere near the cost of custom tall boots, these will set you back several hundred dollars. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your horse expenses, watch for sales, and plan ahead for big purchases. The good news is that you definitely get what you pay for in this case.
- The calves are a bit roomy on me, but not in a way that looks weird or makes me regret ordering the Regular width .
- If you ride in thicker socks, you’ll probably want to go half a size up. Mine fit perfectly for summer and fall socks, but I won’t be wearing these in the winter.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Ariat’s V Sport Zips are still my favorite tall boots years from now. I’ll have to see how they hold up over time, but I’m optimistic!
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