There’s something about a new pair of tall boots. Soft, buttery leather than has never seen a speck of dirt, a high topline that has yet to be creased. It’s a special kind of feeling, putting your new tall boots on for the first time, and pointing your toe at the closest available mirror.

I was unfamiliar with that feeling. Somehow the stars had (mis)aligned over the last decade or so, wherein despite a busy riding career, my old-school field boots, sans zipper and all, stuck with me. For ten years I kept the same pair of pull-on tall boots with laces in my closet, before, during, and after the calf zipper entered the market and made the boot pull obsolete.

So, when I opened the long rectangular box containing my new Ariat Monaco Stretch Zip Tall Boots, I danced an extra-special happy dance. If anyone’s a die-hard Ariat customer it’s me; the day I got my first pair of Ariat paddock boots is forever burned in my memory. It was circa 1992, I was an 11-year-old, once-a-week lesson kid, and it was becoming clear that I was to be no fair weather rider. My mother drove me to the old Ron Richards Saddlery in downtown Oakland, CA for new boots. We bypassed the cheap boots with stiff soles and cardboard leather, and headed straight to the Ariats. When I laced up those bad boys, I knew I had arrived as a rider.

The rest is history. When one pair of Ariats run out, I automatically replace them with a new pair of Ariats. It’s always been that way, and probably always will be.

So when I realized that my 2003-era Ariat field boots were woefully outdated, I looked to my go-to friends at Ariat. The company was founded in the Bay Area, where I was born and raised, and still has offices just 20 minutes from my hometown. It was an easy choice. Ariat recommended their new Monaco Stretch Zip Tall Boot and sent out a pair in my size.

2_0380336_3(1)Hello, my lovelies….

Out of the box, they fit without a struggle (custom what?) I proudly walked about the house in them (hey, there are some things that a person is never too old to do) and carefully noted the break in process as they accompanied me to the barn for the next several weeks.

As long as one doesn’t wear brand new tall boots with thin silk boot socks, or drive all the way to the barn and back while wearing said brand new boots and thin socks (I speak from experience) …..the break in process is relatively painless. They fell just enough for comfort, and with each ride the ankles and calf felt more grippy and secure.

I know I’m incredibly late to this party, but it is just so nice to have tall boots that are comfortable enough for everyday use, instead of ones that sit in the closet gathering dust in between shows. Not to mention the zipper! I’m to sure all of you reading this, the tall boot zipper is old hat, but finally, finally having a pair of zip up tall boots is a luxury like no other. Goodbye old boot pulls and boot jack!

These boots may or may not last me another ten years, but when I do go looking for another pair, you can bet I’ll call Ariat first.

The Ariat Monaco Stretch Zip Tall Boots are featured as an H&S Staff Pick in the 2014 Horse & Style Holiday Guide to Equestrian Style.