Oh, Ariat! Breaking my heart again.

Color me confounded. Or maybe I’m just slow to catch on sometimes. Either way, I am profoundly disappointed to find that another pair of pricey Ariat paddock boots has sprung a leak. I’ve had these boots just over a year.

You might say Ariat is baring my sole. Or not. 

This time, the tragedy happened with a pair of zip leather paddock boots that retail for more than $100. One of the boots tore in the exact same spot that several others have done before.

My first pair of Ariats lasted me through about six years of nearly daily horse barn trips, lots of weekly lessons, and plenty of mucky barn chores. But my Ariat love affair went downhill from there.

In the past few years, I have tossed three pairs of Ariat paddock boots, which have burst open in the same spot – right along the sole attachment line on the inside of one foot. My discarded boots have included one lace-up pair, one zippered winter pair, the current zippered pair.

Lest anyone suggest this sad pattern might be blamed on my freakishly wide feet (which really aren’t wide at all, since I measure a medium width at shoe stores), it might be prudent to point out that my horse-crazy young adult daughter has experienced the same burst-through-the side Ariat shortfall as well. (This was a big let-down as well, after she wore a pair of Dansko Speed-Lace Paddock Boots for eight years. And then they stopped making them! Remember how neat they were – with their wide toe bases and sturdy construction?)

I shudder to count the number of fellow boarders and equestrian friends who school their horses and show up for riding lessons with duct tape strapped around their Ariat paddock boots in (You guessed it.) exactly the same spot. I even knew an up-and-coming business owner, who showed up for fancy dressage clinics in her banged-up Ariat paddock boots, sporting shiny silver duct tape.

What gives, Ariat?

Of course, in the shoemaker’s defense, it’s only fair to point out that I am still riding and showing in my decade-old Ariat Medalist tall leather boots. Sure, I had to pay a cobbler to put zippers and top tabs in my pair, but my feet have never popped through the sides, as with so many pairs of paddock boots.

I’m off to the horse barn now – sporting my ages-old, but still intact Justin Roper Kilty Lace-Up Paddock Boots, which I bought for a song on Sierra Trading Post – a dozen years, several foals, and countless rides ago.

Ariat. Ariat. How we wanted to love your paddock boots. But you ripped our hearts out – along with your own soles.

Photo by Linda Ann Nickerson for The Mane Point.
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