My much awaited boots finally arrived yesterday afternoon.
I ordered the Ariat Heritage boots in sienna, which is a nice dark chocolate brown. My hope is that the non black color will be slightly more trendy for when I stop on the way home from the barn or inevitably get sidetracked going to or from the barn. Am I dreaming in thinking they'll be a little less "obviously I just got back from riding horses" looking?
These boots are intended to replace my Mountain Horse Richmonds which I hate with a vengeance. I even went back and read everyone's reviews on those boots, and remain convinced I got a different style or a fake pair or something. The leather is so stiff and awful. I've been wearing them a minimum of 5x a week for the past 8 months, not to mention for showing and lessons (at least 2x a week) for 2 years prior. And those boots STILL look basically new, and they look good on me, but they still give me the most horrible blisters if I even think about wearing them for more than an hour or so without vetwrap. They also stretched over time and are huge around the calves - like I can keep my keys, phone, gloves, whatever in there while I ride. A few months ago, G was like "Ouch!, where did that nasty blister on your heel come from?" My boots. "Oh yuck, look at that scar on your toe" The boots. "AND the ones around your ankles?" Yep. At least they finally dropped and stopped rubbing the backs of my knees a few months ago? Tragic boot saga somewhat shortened, G offered to buy me a new pair if I was going to be too cheap to do it myself. Yay! Maybe I can wear sandals some day again ;)
First impressions of my new Ariats? The footbed feels great, although I agree with the reviews that say to size up half a size over your normal. The color is exactly as it appears in their photo. The leather quality and zippers are way better than the Mountain Horses. Don't get me wrong, they're still not super soft or anything like that, but I feel like they'll break in quickly. As a short person, they are definitely too tall to just walk around in all day right away, but I feel like they will fit perfectly once they drop.
What I don't like? The calf is shaped a little funny - super slim and flattering through the ankle, then it's almost slightly big right through the biggest past of my leg, then really slim and almost too tiny around the top. It's a bit of an exaggerated/odd profile that makes the outline less smooth than I'd prefer. These are wide calf boots though, so tinier people than me might not have this issue.
Verdict: Decent boots for the price, and my inital impression is a good one.