Now, I will readily admit that I am not a boot aficionado. My show boots? $600 Ariat Crowne Pro boots that I am just starting to fit back into. Let me start with this, to me, $600 is A LOT of money to spend on riding boots. I know, clutch your pearls.

My schooling boots for the past few years have been the Ariat Heritage Contour boots. In fact, these are actually the first boots in a long time that I held onto until they fell apart. Why did I hold onto these?


  • They were still $200+… way more than I want to spend more than once every several years.
  • The black, traditional field boot design allowed them to transition from schooling boot to show boot with only a bit of polish.
  • The XW calf width, right off the shelf, meant they were always comfortable, even when I threw on leggings, winter breeches, and thick socks in the winter.
  • The foot-bed is super comfortable. I mean, I could literally wear these all day without my back bothering me, which is more than I can say for almost any shoe except my sneakers.
  • They’ve actually lasted me a decent amount of time.

I am abusive to boots. I really don’t want to be. I really do want to be the kind of person that puts my boots on right before I ride and then take them off as soon as I get off. The kind of person that keeps my boots in my temperature controlled garage, in boot trees, and wiped down after ever ride.

Proof of abuse. This is now a massive hole (6 months later)

What kind of person am I? The kind of person that accidentally wears my tall boots out into the field, in the mud, to turn out my horse. (her needs first…. right?) The kind of person who tried wiping down her boots, about a month ago. And the kind of person that throws her boots in her tack trunk until next time. So when I buy a new pair of boots, they probably shouldn’t be my DREAM boots.

Dream Boots.JPG
Dream Boots. LM Easy Boot


Instead, I will probably follow one of two avenues.

  1. Another pair of Ariat Heritage Contour Field Boots. They’ve been slightly updated, but still the classic design and fit options. Not many reviews on the newer version, but my old version got a lot of great reviews for comfort and durability.
  2. The Mountain Horse Sovereign boots in black. They’re about $100 more than the Ariat boots, but they have a more interesting (but still classic) design.
  3. Tuff Rider Sure Grip Boots. These are by far the least expensive option, but I have never tried or seen them in person. Obviously, buying through RW would make things easy to try and send back, if necessary, but durability is hard to know without firsthand experience.

What boots do you ride in? What boots would you 100% stay away from?

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  1. Kristy B

    I have the MH Sovereigns ! Love them! Going on I think 2 years (maybe 3, can’t remember) and I have cleaned them all of 1 time and they are still going strong. And I am also abusive to boots !

    1. Emily

      Awesome! Thanks for the feedback. Price-wise, I might have to wait until my tax return to buy them, but I can re-patch my current boots to get me through winter if I need to!

  2. Erin Murphy

    If I could find the Ariat’s in XW Tall, I’d be in business. But I’ve had my boots for about a year and a half (give or take) and the soles look like yours and they are about 2″ too short now. I have small feet, wide calf, and on the longer side of legs. I haven’t been able to find a single boot on the market that meets my specs, and I can’t bring myself to spend $800 on customs. Because, lets be honest, I will treat customs the same as my every day boots.

    1. Emily

      oh man that’s rough! My one saving grace is that I only need on “special” option (the wide calf but regular height). It makes it a bit easier to find options. That being said, no idea if the wide sovereign boots will be nearly wide enough.

  3. hellomylivia

    1000% recommend the MH Sovereigns! I’m super mean to my boots, and they still look fantastic for the show ring with a bit of polish. They’ve held up to some terrible treatment for 3+ years and they still clean up great for the show ring. The one thing I did that keeps them really nice is using wax based polish, and putting on a few coats early on. That makes it super easy to get any mud and dust off, and polish them up pretty for the shows.

    1. Emily

      Interesting! Another vote for the MH Sovereigns!

      I will say that, even if my Ariat’s were sans holes, they still do not polish up anymore.

  4. the_everything_pony

    Haha I third the MH Sovereigns! I got the brown pair for showing, but I’ve had to wear them around as schooling boots because others I’ve tried have hurt somewhere in the mix. These have a lovely fit around my calf without being too loose and certainly not uncomfortably tight. The height, which I’ve always had immense issues with, is bloody perfect on these, even though the sizing is off the rack. The little bits of elastic on the back of boot really really help me out with that. I do have a square, kinda wide foot (not wide enough for wide but a little too wide to be comfortable for B width) so I do actually make sure to stuff boot trees in these boots after every ride. As I’ve worn them in better, the foot has gotten very comfortable and they’ve never pinched my feet. I do wish they had a bit better support in the footbed – they’re a little thin compared to Ariat ones, and I love Ariat footbeds, but their tall boots do not work for me. I’m in between sizes on everything, but the Sovereigns have been one of the very few off the rack boots that have fit me so well. They ARE expensive, so I do actually take better care of them than all of my other barn shoes combined. Then again, nearly $400 will make me take care of anything pretty well haha. I wear them for pretty much the whole time I’m outside, but I do try to change boots before I do any washing or hosing off. I try to do that with all my boots though because I’ve gone through so many pairs (western boots) not doing that, so nothing new there. But I don’t wipe them off after rides, I haven’t cleaned them or anything in forever, and I’m grabbing another pair in black this time because these have been the most comfortable tall boot for me, and I’m pretty picky haha.

    I tried the Ariat sport V boot and the Tuffrider Belmont field boot to try to save money, and the Ariat was great for my foot but squished my calves something awful (one size up was too big) and I would’ve had to get a short and them be too short because the regular height ones dug into the backs of my knees so painfully my heels were going numb. No bueno haha. And I rolled my ankle in the Tuffrider ones, got enormous blisters after one ride and chafe marks on my inner calves. So uh…. maybe I haven’t tried all boots, but I’m gonna stick with the ones that are comfortable for me right now LOL!

    And if you’d like, I can work on a review for the boots! I’ll probably say nothing different from above haha but I’ve had them a while now so I think it’ll be a pretty thorough review! (and goodness this was long LOL)

    1. Emily

      Yes! I would love a full review. I had the V Sports at one point, and they just never stayed zipped. I also need some structure around my one ankle, since it has been twisted one time too many.

      Thanks for all the helpful feedback!

  5. Centered in the Saddle

    I have been riding in the front-zip Ariat Volants for…five years? Maybe even six. My parents gave them to me as a gift when I got back into riding and showing. They’re really showing their wear but I LOVE THEM. They don’t have holes, thankfully, but the stitching is a little loose and they don’t polish up super well anymore (though I still show in them because I don’t have the money for more boots). I have been caring for them religiously more recently because I need them to not die. They’re so comfortable, like wearing sneakers. I wish I’d gotten them in a tall size, because they are too low but eventers don’t care about that as much as hunters so I just pretend it doesn’t matter lol. I love them so much and they are discontinued and when they go to boot heaven I will be crushed.

    But then I guess I’ll have to try the Mountain Horse Sovereigns based on the other comments here!

  6. Edward Vanek

    I’ve been riding in the ariat contours for…. 8 years now? Maybe more? I got some TS donatellos for show boots because I got them for $70 on closeout (perks of wearing a 5.5 size shoe as an adult) but I would have gotten mountain horse boots if I had been in the market to actually spend money ? absolutely nothing wrong with the ariats, I just like the look of MH better!

    1. Emily E Frank

      Oops this posted on the wrong account, I promise I am not a man with a lady’s size 5.5 foot hahaha

      1. Emily

        Hahaha it happens!

        Yeah. I think that is where I am at in terms of Ariat vs. MH. The ariats have done me no wrong, but the MH are really pretty!

        I tried the TS boots once… and the zipper broke in the first 20 min. Glad I bought them from Dover!

  7. nadsnovik

    I really love my Ariats and Tredstep Donatellos. I had Mountain Horse boots, I can’t remember what style and LOVED them. They died after foxhunting in Irleand. The zipper was never the same after that and they’d split open. But, like you, I am hard on my boots (hence don’t wear them every day and instead wear half chaps) so really I think the MH boots are really solid and at a great price point

    1. Emily

      Thanks! It’s helpful to hear from someone who has tried both. I would love to go back to paddock boots and half chaps, but my left ankle is completely shot. The added support of tall boots really helps it. Unless I can find a paddock boot that goes up to mid-calf… hahaha

  8. Boss Mare Eventing

    I have a nice pair of Ariats I got on sale for $99, I can’t afford anything more expensive lol They do the job just fine!

    1. Emily

      jealous! I was hoping to find my current schooling boots on sale, once Ariat came out with the updated version. But I couldn’t find any in my size. -.-

  9. L. Williams

    I’ve heard great things about the MH boots so I think you are in good company. I did not find the Ariat Heritage’s holding up which made me sad but I’m an all custom girl now LM for life!

    1. Emily

      The LMs are my DREAM BOOT. Maybe next time I need to upgrade my show boots, I can convince the hubs. 😉

  10. Carly

    I abuse the crap out of my boots. They get negative zero special treatment except when they have to go to shows. As such I go for as cheap as possible which works well as I also only fit in size 11s with a slim calf and Tuff Rider is one of the few boots that can accommodate that off the shelf for bargain basement price. I don’t think I could ever pay more than a couple hundred bucks for boots because I know what an awful, horrible life I would give them! 😛

    1. Emily

      Nice to hear from someone who has tried (and liked!) Tuff Rider boots. I am tempted to order them first, just to ease my conscious about spending $$$ 🙂

  11. roamingridersite

    No help here..I wear paddock boots and half chaps but it sounds like the MH boots are a winner for a lot of people.

    1. Emily

      I think it’s the closest thing to a “consensus” we have ever gotten on this blog! haha

  12. Emma

    I wear my tall boots for everything and anything. They are abused fully. Mud rain drying dust, whatever. And I just wear the same pair for schooling and showing. My current pair are brown HKMs that were extremely “affordable” ordered from europe (<$200) and they’re still going strong after two years.

    1. Emily

      Interesting! Never thought to take a peek at the Europe brands.

      1. emma

        omg doooooo it!!!!! i had pretty specific criteria when i was searching: brown, inexpensive and off the rack. esp regarding calf size and boot height configurations, i found a lot more variety in euro brands, plus more price variety and options. i ordered my HKMs from tackville international, and have also placed orders with and just riding. there are a TON of other sites too.

        1. Emily

          Thanks for the recommendations on some sites!

  13. Tracy

    I’m a terrible person to ask about boots because I seem to be a magikal size that’s not regular but also not plus size? Not only did I have a tough time finding something that fit, once I did I couldn’t keep them from breaking (usually at the zipper) for more than 6-12 months and I treated them like GOLD. No chores, no walking, no looking them wrong *face palm*

    1. Emily

      UGH! Last time I shopped, the Ariat Heritages with the XC calf and regular height were basically all that fit… now… those boots are a bit too big and my “Fulls” are a bit too small hahaha. This should be a fun adventure.

  14. t

    Ha! We like almost the same boots. I have the Ariat heritage contours in xw and the brown color. They’ve been abused and are ready for the trash. I replaced them with the Mountain Horse Opus boots and am very happy. The MH ones are noticeably better quality, and the closures and zippers are better thought out. The fit is better and looks more streamlined, at least on me. The sovereigns are gorgeous, and I would have bought those if I could have found somewhere to try them in in my size! Good luck 🙂

    1. Emily

      Very cool! Thank you. Would you mind sharing with me what size you ended up getting in the Opus boots?

      1. t

        I wear a 7xw in the Ariats, went with a UK size 5 wide in the MH and they’re perfect.

  15. Karen & Hampton

    I am also a boot abuser. 🙂 I am better than I used to be, but still an abuser. I have Mountain Horse boots for everyday schooling and they have lasted me almost 4 years so far! I think they were $275? Somewhere in that pallpark. I also have Tredsteps I have been showing in and I like them too although they don’t really shine up that nice for shows.

    1. Emily

      Welcome to the club of boot abusers hahaha. Apparently, there are a lot of us!

  16. Sarah (threechestnuts)

    Jumping in late to this discussion so I’m not sure if you’ve resolved your boot issues (I’m so behind on blogs), but I have a pair of the heritage boots that I liked (my second pair) but they stretched out too much. I’m not a white, but rather a full calf? So, after a year they just were too big to wear and they looked terrible because of the size… I ended up buying an older tent sale model (lightly used) from Dover (probably older Crowne Pros?) that I LOVE and wear for everything now in full. They don’t have the full stretch panel (again, older), but they don’t stretch out either. I’ve been wearing them for a year and a half now? Eventually I’ll need a new pair but… Ariats just fit me. Tredsteps didn’t fit great and I’m not sure that MH will either. I think I tried a pair with no luck. So next time I get close to needing boots, I’m hitting Dover’s tent sales for the used/returns and hopefully can talk them down on price again. I think I got this pair for $100 or less?

    1. Emily

      Haven’t bought anything yet. I do LOVE my old Crowne Pros. I mean, they’re like 6 or so years old and they’re fantastic. Ariats definitely fit me. So maybe I am just overcomplicating things. Me? never! Hahaha

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