Technically speaking, these aren’t new boots, just newly fitting! I purchased these beauties back in May (happy birthday to me!) while they were on clearance and in preparation for my return to riding. I knew they would be a bit snug when I purchased them but it feels like it took forever to get my calves in shape. After seeing the pictures from my lesson a while back, it looked like my old boots were too dropped in the ankle. It took me years to get my beloved old Ariats to fully break in and achieve second skin status and now they're TOO BIG. I was half disappointed, half excited. This meant that 1) I was finally getting into proper riding shape and 2) I could try to get my new Ariats on properly. And it worked! They actually zipped up!
I've been applying Effax Lederbalsam and an experimental leather conditioner that helped my old boots attain their super-comfy-wear-anywhere status. It's the conditioner that ABLE (previously FashionABLE) sells along with their leather goods. I do think it can overly soften the leather (and make the dye bleed!!!) so I use it strictly on the ankles and only where the boot won't touch the saddle.
I'm so thankful and relieved that they ended up fitting, because it was one of those impulse purchases because they were 50%, so... whew! Money was not wasted. Though, I'm always sure to order from SmartPak because their customer service is amazing.
I wore them in a lesson for the first time on Sunday and honestly, it wasn't the torture I remember with my first pair of tall boots. There was obviously some pressure in the folds around the ankle, but not enough to bruise and I bruise pretty easily. I'll be switching between my paddock boots and these new lovelies before they're fully broken in. I'd say they're definitely up to snuff for some schooling shows next season!