Let’s Talk Tall Boots

Let’s Talk Tall Boots

True story – I get minorly depressed whenever I think too long about tall boots.  Why?  Mainly because there are only 1-3 boots that will fit my calf at this moment.  One brand I won’t touch with a ten foot pole, and the other few options just aren’t up to the quality level that I want.


Half chaps?  I can buy Ariat half chaps all day long and they fit great.  Tall boots?  Forget it.

I lust after brown tall boots, but in reality I’m .5″-1″ away from getting them.  That might not seem like a lot, but when you’re a bigger person who also rides (you know, that thing that requires calf muscles) it can feel impossible.


Currently, I have a pair of tall boots that fit my calf width great but are too short.  They’ve been deemed perfectly acceptable for showing by my trainer and hunter/jumper friends I trust, but honestly I’ve never loved them.  The height bothers me and the style is just not at all what is popular today in the hunter/jumper ring.  My leg also slips a lot with them, and they don’t give me the close contact feel that I enjoy with half chaps.


The way I see it, I have three options… besides pouting.

1) Embrace half chaps and just say F it, and show in some nicer half chaps/paddock boots since I’m showing jumpers.

2) Go custom.

3) Continue with what I have and hope that a new boot comes out or I magically slim down.


I don’t love any of these options.  Well, custom boots would be great but I just have a really hard time justifying $1,000+ on tall boots.  Call me crazy.

What would you do?  Help!

49 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Tall Boots

  1. I pout. 😛 Actually I bought half chaps and not-even-paddock-boots for local shows. I found these (see link below) in brown and bought them for winter, wore them constantly because they were so comfy, and bought them in black for pretend paddock boots. If you roll the top up they look very much like paddock boots and I already knew they were comfy. 🙂


    The tall boot battle is real though. I never remember my calf measurement, I just know it is too big. ha. If I step up to show HUS at regional shows I’ll depress myself and looking into it further, but I would do the cheaper route because I show so seldom and show hunter even less.

  2. Will the DeNiro or Sergio Grasso semi-customs not work for you? They’re under 1k. I’ve heard a couple good reviews of Eiki customs (they run around $600 I believe) but haven’t seen any in person myself.

  3. I have desperately been wanting new tall boots! Because I am super short with wide calves I have a hard time fitting in boots, too. And when I do fit, they are super sloppy in the ankles and give me rub marks (my current issue). For now I am just using my half chaps, but they definitely don’t allow me to put my heels down like my tall boots do. So if I were you, I would stick with what you have until you find something else that works!!

  4. The struggle is real!! I’m in exactly the same place. I need to loose an inch on my calves to get the tall boots of my dreams. My second choice is currently out of stock till maybe the end of April (SmartPak keeps changing the date) so my last option would be customs. If you find something please let us know!

  5. You are not alone. Thus far, I’ve been waiting for my legs to magically shrink. Oh, and to grow 4 inches so everything isn’t too tight AND too tall 🙁

  6. Well I’m on the other end of the spectrum by being too tall for any normal boot even though I have very average calves. The tall ariats aren’t really even tall enough for me, even though I can sort of pull it off.
    I honestly think it’s best to just save up and go custom (but not La Mundials, lol) or semi-custom. Instead of wasting time going through several pairs of tall boots that aren’t quite right and wearing them anyways, put that money into one pair that really fits that will last a long time. Before my La Mundial disaster that ended in me buying Ariats (which will become schooling boots) during the waiting period, I had been riding in the same pair of semi-custom boots since childhood. They last so it’s worth it.

  7. Oh yes, you are SO not alone!!! But there is a ray of hope… Smartpak has a tall boot that is really really nice, & it will fit us gals with monster calves. (right here!)
    The Tredstep Donatello plus size Dress or Field boot. Has a zipper up the back, looks really nice, & does not cost a million dollars. ($299.95) I did have to do some returning before I got the right size, but Smartpak pays for returns, & they’ve got free shipping to begin with. 🙂

    Hope that helps some! 🙂

  8. I did a double take when I saw this post. You could have been writing about my search for tall boots. Very depressing… I normally ride in half chaps on a day to day basis, but I love the look of tall boots at a show. I did break down and why Tredstep smooth leather half chaps to show in. They work great for my calf and come in different heights. My friend found me a pair of boots that fits my calf from Equitector, but after my excitement died down, I realized they are too short. They work but I am always looking. I did try on a pair of Fuller Fillies that had a nice feel.

  9. You and I are in the same boat. If they are wide enough, they are not tall enough and the width really dictates which off-the-shelf makers and styles I can even consider. For me, I suppose it doesn’t make much difference what I wear (I don’t own a horse, and I don’t show). But I like to be taken seriously just as much as the next guy and enjoy having the best equipment I can afford. If I were you, I would save up and go custom (semi-custom). I would buy a super classic style boot that I liked and take care of them so I could wear them for every show for many years. (I can talk myself into expensive things occasionally by pricing them out in my head “per wear”, if I can get it down to a reasonable “usage fee” over the lifetime of the product, then I can commit)

  10. I have the opposite problem – I can fit my calf reasonably well, but I can’t find a pair that are tall enough after they break in! Ariats are close but not quite. I’ve basically decided to live with the problem until I feel like shelling out $$$ for customs. Which realistically might be never, lol!

  11. Oh oh oh I actually have some advice about this type of thing that I’ve been dying to share!!! When I started riding again, my mom sent down my old tall boots- from when I was 15. Yes, they were 8 year old boots. 15 year old me was also ridiculously skinny and had no calf muscles. I figured I’d just have to drop hundred and hundred and hundreds on a new pair because no matter how I wiggled and held my breath and tried, I could not shove my calves in there.

    But on a whim, I took them to a nearby leather shop and they stretched them out for me. $25, and now they fit like they were custom made for me.

    So my recommendation would be to find a pair of boots that fit comfortably on your foot and are the right height, and then take them to be stretched out. It took a couple tries to get mine stretched exactly the way I wanted, but better to spend 2 weeks and $25 than ordering custom for $1000.

    I also spent several years riding exclusively in nice paddock boots and half chaps, so I think that’s a great option too 🙂

  12. I know we’ve chatted about this 500 ways to Tuesday BUT I stick by what I said- I’m about a half inch outside of the Ariat wide calf and with some patience and a zipper pull I can get them to zip and eventually the leather stretches. Most boots now are going to come with some level of stretch goring which is the only reason I can get them to fit. There’s also a stretch spray (which I have not used so I can’t speak to effectiveness). I know there’s something nice about easily zipping up a boot- but personally I don’t mind the struggle- because when it FINALLY stretches, it fits me like a custom!

  13. Lozano/LovegaEq might also be promising for you! Their full custom tall boots run in the $800 range if I’m correct, and they will customize absolutely everything — foot bed, calf width, height, spanish tops, no spanish tops, etc. etc. They have a myriad of fun leathers to pick from if you want to add a little pizazz (probably not for the hunter ring!), but they also have some really lovely plain, brown leather. I personally really want a pair but no kind of boot is in my budget right now!!


  14. I just paid $400.00 to have zippers and back panels put on my YEARS old Dehners. The shop said it would have been $900 to replace them. Years old, but only weeks old in riding time. My suggestion is to buy the boots that are tall enough for you and then have panels put on the back. Boots are important!

  15. Custom. That’s my goal for my next pair of tall boots. Last time I went shopping, I tried on literally everything in the store under $750, and NOTHING fit except the $150 PVC ones. So I bought them. I’m not ashamed. They work just fine, and they don’t even look half-bad.

    In the meantime, I’m saving pennies (literally, pennies) for my custom pair.

  16. a barnmate had zippered boots stretched-in fact the boot place stretched them too much! So it can be done.

    As for customs, that is the route I had to go because i have ridiculously small ankles, normal sized calves and really short legs, despite being 5’8″ (I was NOT built to ride, lol). I got a pair of Casa de las Botas boot, and they are wonderful. I was luckily in Argentina when I bought them, so they cost me about $400. However, to get to the USA they quoted me around $600. You just need to find someone who is REEEEEEALLY good at boot measuring if you go this route.

  17. Go custom. It is a lot of money but if you take good care of them (and I know you would) they will last. Then you have a good high quality boot that you will love! It is also motivation not to gain/lose weight so that they fit. If your current boots work continue your healthy regimen and use the custom boots as a motivator and see where you are in 6 months?? Just say no to half chaps in the show ring. It doesn’t matter if its jumpers or not.

  18. Meh, I am not too particular on the details, so if it were me, I would live with the accepatable tall boots, or I would go the paddock boot and half chap route.

    Landsakes, my HORSE cost $1500. There is no way in hell I’d be spending over $1000 on custom tall boots! LOL

  19. Big calves are not just a plus size rider problem. I run, a lot, and my body type puts on muscle like crazy. That means I have massive calves. I have to wear wides, and they are a pain in the ass to find. Either the wide is massive, or the whole boot is wide (like a stovepipe), or the top gaps. I have a pair of Mountain Horse Victoria’s right now that are a decent compromise. They aren’t huge in the ankle, and they are wide enough, but they gap a little at the top. That gap makes them look slightly too big. I assure you. They are not. 🙁 Thankfully, I like everything else about them (front zippers are THE FREAKING BEST), so they get to stay.

  20. Today I just ordered tall boots about 2 hours ago! Darn SmartPak with those emails, “We’re sending out your SmartPak, is there anything else we should add to your cart, that you can’t live without [like a new pair of field boots?]” I am technically a 10.5, but ordered a 10. I’m keeping my expectations low. I have one pair of paddock boots that are 11 and they are too big. If it’s not the calf, it’s the foot. Very hard to get a perfect fit.

    1. You may need to contact me if you have more normal height legs than me. I have a pair of custom boots to sell that are 10.5 and too short for me, regular calf basically. I really need to post them on my blog but been too busy with work.

  21. My friend had the same issue, she bought nice Ariats and had a zipper put in with elastic, they look great now. Stretching could also work.

    I would say custom, but if you are trying to lose weight and you do…they will end up being too loose.

  22. I would definitely second the suggestions to check about boot stretching or other options with your local shoe/boot repair place. I have a great boot guy in Tulsa who has put new zippers in my awful tall boots a couple of different times, and I talked with him about the possibility of putting stretch panels and zippers in my ancient pull-on Ariats. He was confident he could do it, but I decided I’d just buy a new pair instead of spending money on the 15 year old pair! That said, the new extra-wide Ariats DO fit on my 17.5″ calves, so I am very glad for that!

    As for half chaps, I have a pair of Horze’s Soft Leather Half Chaps that I REALLY like- they look great, they wear well, and they are super affordable.

  23. This is the problem with all the off-the-rack stuff these days. It’s great if you are in the average range but really sucks when you aren’t.

    I do think saving up for a pair of custom or semi-custom boots would be the best way to go in the long run.

  24. I ordered my custom boots last July and am still waiting for them. 8-( There was a discoloration issue with the leather on the initial pair that they sent me to “try on for size” in December. I’m almost ready to just ask for my deposit back.

  25. Okay, I didn’t read everyone else’s comments first so I might be repeating 🙂 but a) BOOTS!!!!! I love boots. I love boot shopping for other people even.
    2) as someone who has always compromised on off the rack/semi custom options and never been 100% happy with them, finally coughing up the $$ for custom was WELL worth it. I’m obsessed and I’m having a hard time saving my “nice” boots for shows only, I want to be in them always.
    2) While I personally am a Konig Girl, I will say I am impressed with the quality of the Der Dau, ANNNNNND if you have boots to trade in they’ll give you up to $300 credit. fact. I saw a couple of our juniors trade in Ariats for some real $$ off their new boots. Just a thought.
    The struggle is real, but if I added up all the “almost” boots that I’ve bought over the years I could have ordered my customs in black AND brown.

  26. oops, I mean 3) or “2)” again. You choose. And maybe I wouldn’t have gotten black and brown. I would have gotten black (obvi) and MAGENTA with CRAZY piping. Or something really, really obnoxious. 🙂

  27. The last picture you have is actually a 1/2 chap and paddock boot combo. If it fooled you, it can fool anyone. Consider this option! (Warning they are still not cheap, but may offer a better solution when it comes to fit and overall comfort)

  28. Maybe consider finding a reputable, local cobbler to put in a discreet stretch panel in the back of a boot that nearly fits? I’ve no reason to own tall boots except that I REALLY WANT SOME and I am mildly tempted to do just that. I’ve had customers report back to me at work that they were really glad they did this because they were able to get the boots they wanted and not stress about the calf width quite as much.

  29. Well I think off the rack boots are rarely fit a lot of us. My calves are skinny but not that skinny, just too small for my size foot. My Bevals do fit astoundingly well but they are discontinued of course and very hard soled. They also have worn out fast but really helped my lower leg over half chaps. I’d say find some semi customs with some sort of elastic panel vs living with half chaps.

  30. I have issues fitting tall boots too! I’m short and my calves are slightly wide. What I’ve done is take my tall boots to the cobbler and have them stretch them!

  31. I have a random but equally as pout worthy issue with long boots! I have an extra bone in one of my feet so I wear through the foot part of my boot super fast on that side 🙁 for this reason I can’t warrant buying nice drool worthy tall boots just to have one section fall apart, so chaps and boots it is for me 🙁

  32. Have your tried the Tredstep Gaiters? They are a mixture of half chaps and hard leather of tall boots (if that makes sense). Tredstep make them in a variety of heights & widths, but i have no idea ow wide you might need. I love my pair and would have gotten another set if i hadn’t found their Raphael tall boots on sale for the same price…

  33. I had the same problem! I wanted high quality show boots that fit me CORRECTLY. I have very long legs and a thin calf and finding tall boots that fit both the height and width without getting custom ones was very very hard. Then I started looking into Ariat boots. I knew they were a great brand but the model I wanted/needed was pretty expensive. I decided to look into them anyway and found that they were the exact thing I needed! They are just like custom ones. You can choose the height, width, and foot size. All of their boots have semi custom features and I found my PERFECT pair of boots. I highly highly recommend them and the boots that you will get will be the best purchase of your life!

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