|What's not to love about a pink box?!|
I have to admit that when I first began to ride English, the thought of the cost of tall boots just about made me run for the hills. I have a size 12 US ladies foot and calves that measure in around 19" apiece. I had visions of $600+ to have a custom calf put on a men's boot - and quite frankly, I probably wouldn't have bothered for that price.
At this time, the best place, even if you live in North America, to get the Fuller Fillies Show Boot is from Tackanory - and even with the current exchange, they work out to less than $250 Canadian.
Following standard boot-measuring procedure, I sat with my legs at a 90 degree angle and measured around the widest part of my calf, and down the back of my calf from the bend in my knee to the floor. I measured 18.5" & 19" around my calves and 17" from knee to floor - based on those measurements, I chose to order a pair of size 12 XW in a standard height. When I ordered, Suzanne from Fuller Fillies made a comment about my unnaturally large feet which I have chosen to take as a compliment - the good thing is that I did not have to wait for my boots - they were in stock because they were an uncommon size.
I want to make a note about measuring your legs -- I have a fairly large thigh and I truly believe that I should have measured longer and gotten a taller boot. This was no error of Suz's, but entirely mine in how I measured my leg. I believe that sitting with my legs at a 90 degree angle, my thigh interfered with my ability to measure to the very crook of my knee as I measured straight up the back of my calf. As a result, MY boots, while they are still functional and will be fine for what I intend to use them for (local level open showing), may not be appropriate for higher levels of competition.
"When You Get Them"
When they were in the mail, Suzanne sent me the following:
When you get them:
Get someone to help you zip them up the first few times whilst you stand up. Ascertain the length is correct and the top doesn't go to far beyond the crease in your knee.... things I never would have known on my own, having never owned a pair of tall boots, and wanted to share with all of you. It never occured to me that even if they wouldn't zip up on their own, they might do if someone who had two hands available and was not twisting around like a contortionist may be able to zip them up for me.
If they are a little long they will drop HOWEVER; you should not ride in them until they do as bending your knee whilst the bend is not clear of the top will result in a sprained zip-pull…
Unless they zip up comfortably please wear them for a few times to get the leather to stretch; the Renapur will help this and should be used once you are happy with them to keep the leather fed.
I held my breath and closed my eyes when my mother first zipped me into them with no socks or anything underneath. I will admit that at that time, they were snug enough that I worried about my ability to wear socks under them, nevermind breeches and socks. Several times over the next couple of days, I had someone zip me into them and wore them around - though you often hear about the zipper being the first thing to go and my wincing every time I went down a step, worried they would bust at any minute, the zipper - which appears to be industrial strength but doesn't look like a giant, ugly industrial strength type of zipper - held fast.
Admittedly, while I probably could have been zipping myself into them, I still had my boyfriend zip me into them before I went to the barn for a couple of weeks after I got them. I was probably being overcautious.
I also find that they are nicely tapered in the ankle area - for me, who doesn't seem to carry much weight on my ankle, this is nice - again, with the clean look - the advantage is the panel in the back which means that even though they taper at the ankle quite a bit, if your ankles are thicker than mine, you still can fit into the boots.
They have a zipper keeper in the elastic snap across the back of your calf - not that I have ever had a problem with my zippers falling down - but that little added sense of security.
One major appearance point that I really love about these boots are the spanish style tops. For someone with a blocky calf like mine, it has a lengthening, slimming effect - and would be even more so if my boots were tall enough. They are made of full grain leather which shines up nicely with just a swipe of a lightly dampened cloth - and they look like a million bucks with a recent coating of the Renapur Leather Balsam that came with them!
As of the publishing date of this review, I have had the boots for two months. I have been wearing them 2-3 times per week for as long as 4 hours at a time. Although I wanted to "save them for nice", my boyfriend reminded me that in the interest of a fair review, I should really test the boots... so I did. I have worn them slogging through mud to catch horses, doing ground work, riding (more than one horse in a session!) - in a dressage saddle, in an AP saddle, bareback - mucking, cleaning out hooves, oiling hooves, crouching down to brush out feathers, using the wash rack (YES, I have gotten them wet!), and driving the car. I have left them uncleaned, completely, though maybe twice in this period, when they have gotten damp in the washrack, I wiped them off a bit with a cloth, but not with any real intent to clean them.
Tonight, I decided to take a picture of what they look like "used" - I then spent less than 5 minutes wiping them down with a damp cloth and applied a go of leather balsam (only the second time I have done it since I got them!) to them.
Don't judge us for our bottles - we don't drink a lot, we just don't go to the bottle recycling depot often enough!
I just can't get over how AWESOME they look after I basically used and abused them!
Another thing that I can't get over is how comfortable they are. My feet and joints tend to get very sore after being on them for 3-4 hours but I had virtually no muscle fatigue or sore soles even after wearing the boots all of that time, and riding in them. Now that they are well fitted to my legs, I feel like I could wear them all day long at a show with ease and not think twice about it!
Overall, I give the boots a rave review! I think for the money, they are fantastic.. and affordable enough that I am seriously considering keeping a pair for show and a pair for barn wear -- though as evidenced above, you wouldn't even need to do that since they clean up so nicely and with so little effort!
And to end - a rare snapshot of one of my favorite creatures Boyfriendus Groomus! He makes rare appearances but Bronwyn loves him and sees him as the bearer of treats, scratches and chauffeur for her rider! (Yes, we have talked about flipflops in the barn - he tells me I have to buy him a pair of cowboy boots and problem solved!)