Show Ready Boots - Boot Care and Polish
Show season is in full swing and making sure we are show ring ready is par for the course, never overlooking a polished pair of boots.  Making sure our boots are ready for the ring takes a bit more attention than the daily cleaning.  While a polished boot is not required for the show ring, it is one of the many ways you can take pride in you and your horse’s presentation.
So how exactly does one go about getting that super shiny boot?  Boots are made with a variety of leathers and finishes.  Some take a shine easily, some…not so much.  Other boots are patent leather and born shiny.  Some are “rough side out” suede that should not be polished, only brushed.  I have a pair of black Dehner’s, made from their Dragoon leather.  I absolutely love these boots and their durability, but they are not the easiest to take a shine.  These boots are a true test for how well shining products work.
Before walking through a step-by-step process of shining a pair of boots, a quick mention about the best way to keep your boots clean, day to day.  A daily wipe with a sponge/cloth and water is the simplest way to keep your boots clean and happy.  If a bit more cleaning power is needed, reach for a pH balanced cleaner.  Also remember to keep the welt stitching clean and free of debris, a soft toothbrush is a good option for this.
There are many choices when it comes to boot polish, from basic brands to special imported formulas.  When choosing a polish, I prefer a creamier polish over a thicker past or solid as the creamier polish will not clog the pores of the leather as much as other options.  Do not use liquid polish on the leather of the boot.  The ideal use for liquid polish is around the edge of the boot sole.  I am going to test the Effax Black Boot Polish to see if it has what it takes to put a shine on my Dehner’s.  It may go without saying however, if you are polishing a black boot choose the black polish and likewise, the brown polish for a brown boot.  The Effax Boot Polish is a cream polish with a great built-in applicator (more on this later).  Now that I have my polish, there are a few go to item that are essential for the polish process.  I like to have multiple rags, rubber gloves for application, a buffing brush, buffing cloths and a spray bottle with water.  As a side note, it is not the best of ideas to polish your boots in show cloths…Murphie’s Law – you will get polish on your show breeches no matter how hard you try to stay clean, coveralls are your friend when polishing your boots at the show.
Begin with a clean dry boot, apply a thin even layer of boot polish, in a circular motion, working it into the leather then setting aside the boot, letting the polish dry slightly as you apply polish to the other boot in the same manner.  The Effax Boot Polish has a built-in sponge applicator that allows for easy application.  You may want to wear a pair of rubber glove to keep your hands polish free.  You can also dedicate a smaller soft bristle brush to use as your polish application brush.  Mission critical DO NOT apply polish to the inside of your boot where the boot contacts the leather of your saddle.  This will result in relentless squeaking.  I avoid applying polish to the medial part of the boot at all costs.  Once the polish has been applied, you can begin to buff the polish with the buffing brush.  Bickmore makes a great buffing brush that works well.  Buff the boot everywhere you have applied polish.  Once buffed with the brush you can take your water spray bottle and lightly mist the buffed areas.  This is where the idea of “spit polish” comes in.  If you really want to supply your own water, have at it, I prefer the spray bottle.  Now it is time to use your buffing rag.  I like to use a long skinny buffing cloth, taking one end in each hand and quickly buff the boot.  Remember, we are only polishing the outside of the boot, avoiding the medial side…squeaking is bad.  You should begin to see a shine as you continue to buff with the buffing rag.  As I am going through this process on my Dehners, they are a bit stubborn to take a shine so I will repeat the process start to finish: apply polish, let dry a bit, buff with brush, mist with water and buff with cloth.  At this point, my boots are taking on a nice shine and I am happy with how they are looking.
While keeping our boots clean and shiny is an ideal way to extend their life, here are a few other tips your boots will appreciate.  Boot trees are a great way to help your boots maintain their shape and avoid breaking down.  Plastic spring boot trees are an easy, effective and economical option for boot trees.  Boot zippers, another essential part of many rider’s boots, also need TLC.  The best way to avoid a zipper blow out at the most inopportune time is to care for your zipper as much as you do the boot.  Make sure the boot is properly fitted and undue stress is not placed on the zipper.  Also make sure the zippers are kept clean and happy.  I like to use Zipper Ease Zipper Lubricant.  It is an easy-to-use lubricant that can be applied by rubbing it lightly up and down the teeth of the zipper.
Without a doubt, the Effax Black Boot Polish did a great job on a boot that is stubborn about taking a shine.  The boot trees and zipper lubricant are also essential for extending the life of our boots.  The Paddock Saddlery offers may options to help you clean, maintain and extend the life of your riding boots.  Click here to shop more boot and leather care products.  Please feel free to reach out to The Paddock Saddlery with any inquiries.
As always, if there is anything you would like to learn more about, let us know.  Thank you and have a great ride!