this thing's incredible

My Everyday (and I Do Mean Every Day) Ankle Boots Are Actually Intended for Horseback Riders

The author in her Ariat boots. Photo: Mehera Bonner

A few years ago, one of my best friends and I were both in need of new black boots. We had the same qualifications: leather, lace-up, low heel. Works with tights; can be worn with anything. You probably have some in your closet right now. Everyone I know does.

I decided to splurge on a pair of Thursday Boots (these in black), which I’d been eyeing for a while, thanks to some alarmingly successful targeted ads on Instagram. My friend — who tends to prioritize functionality over style — purchased the Ariat Scout Paddock Boots for $99. I thought my boots were, frankly, better. The price of hers was surely too low to be good quality, and I wasn’t crazy about the embossed logo. Plus, her pair’s rubber sole has a kind of a utilitarian sensibility that I didn’t love (probably because they are utilitarian — I later learned that this sole has “rider-tested traction zones” to improve performance for riders when they’re “in the irons,” or have their feet in horse stirrups).

After a winter and a half and many in-between seasons, I can still wear my boots … but barely. The heel is missing at least half an inch — any day now, I’ll have worn through the sole — while my friend’s Ariats are pristine. The leather has aged beautifully (by that I mean hardly at all), and they somehow look even better now than they did when she bought them. It became clear that my pair would not last me to the end of the season; I had no choice but to buy the Ariats.

I’ve now been wearing them daily for about two months, with no end in sight (partly because they look as good with dresses as they do with jeans). The heel simply does not wear down, even after miles of sidewalk walking — which is really no surprise, since they’re made to withstand use in a horse paddock. And while they’re intended for serious horse riders, they don’t look out of place on me, merely a casual rider of subways. Plus, they’re almost entirely waterproof and have something called a “moisture-wicking lining,” so I can wear them in the rain and snow without worrying about my socks getting wet. They’ll be the only shoes I reach for this spring, and I plan to test them out come summer because — as I said — they truly look good with everything.

My only regret is that I didn’t buy them two years ago.

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My Everyday Ankle Boots Are Intended for Horseback Riders