Ariat’s Monaco Zip Paddock Boot for GrownUps Only

ariat-monaco-zip-paddock-boot-for-women-free-shipping-1__81660.1420747305.600.600Call me a child. My first instinct when receiving a new pair of boots is to run out in the mud, scuff ‘em up, and break ‘em in.

Not so with my new Ariat Monaco Zip Paddock boots. Far Too Lovely. The black boots with fashionable square toe may make an adult out of me yet. They put the ‘Grr’ in ‘Grown-up.’

Although I don’t usually ride English, I have an appreciation for the style, especially when it comes to riding boots. Of all the options, Ariat’s zip paddock boots are the most versatile and appealing to those of us not bent on competition and showing. If you are indeed competing and showing, these boots are designed to be worn with half chaps. (The combination looks pretty smart, if I do say so.)

With half chaps

With half chaps

Interested in more English style? Read our Clothes Horse edition of “English Casual” here.

As guest columnist Emily Luciano found with her pair of Ariat Vaqueras, there was only a short break-in time for me and the Monacos. I wore thinner socks at first. As they stretched slightly and conformed to my wider-than-average foot, I switched to slightly thicker socks (ones I normally wear).

The French calf leather has worn delightfully. I have had those mud runs, of course, but the boots spiff up easily by cleaning them with a clean rag (dry or slightly damp). Over the course of a few months, the leather looks just as impressive and handsome as when I took them from the box (or I should say cloth bag – all Monaco boots come with a soft, chamois bag for safe boot-keeping.)

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed low boots like the Monaco’s, but others have not fit so snugly around the shin. The result? Jean hang-up. Any time you get out of the saddle, out of a chair, out of the car, your jean hem will catch on the top of the boot. So annoying.

Not so with these Ariats.

Styling at the Durango Farmers' Market

Styling at the Durango Farmers’ Market

Since they are make-or-break features, I am picky about zippers. The Monaco zipper is easy to grasp, easy to pull, and is rugged without being macho. The leather flap under the zipper assures you never zip your sock and does not interfere with comfort.

Since comfort has a lot to do with heel height, I’m picky about that, too. The heel is just an inch. Combined with gel cushioning and heel stabilizer, these boots are easy to wear all day. Impressive, all the way.

Insight from a Height; Equine Partnership has Many Forms

Clinicians say their clients are focused more than ever on the development of the horse-rider relationship. The personal connection with a particular horse and the development of thScreen Shot 2016-06-08 at 10.26.20 AMat connection is what matters most to us.

Relationships can certainly grow with studious application. They can also grow with the camaraderie of hours, seasons, and years on the trails. It’s a BFF kind of thing in which decisions are made cooperatively, often subconsciously, and in which the destination is less the point than the journey.

I head out with Pep, the paint pony on a warm, sunny day. My goal is to find a route up Joe’s Canyon and onto Menefee Mountain. The area suffered a devastating wild fire in 2012, so the canyon is marked by a seven-foot deep, mostly dry stream bed with vertical walls. (With no trees or plants left, areas often flood after fires. Subsequent erosion damage can last for eons.)

We find ourselves dropping into the stream bed when the going gets too thick or steep on either side. This strategy involves identifying a not-too-steep place to descend and then an equally doable route for getting back up.

Pep considers the route

Pep considers the route strategy involves identifying a not-too-steep place to descend and then an equally doable route for getting back up.

On one stretch of creek bed, I get off and walk with Pep and the dogs. We come to a cul-de-sac, where dead fall has jammed up the narrow fissure and clogged the way. A box canyon in miniature.

We all stop to examine the remains of a deer who had recently met its demise here. A small pool of water should have triggered a yellow flag in my brain. Instead, I’m just happy the dogs could rehydrate.

I turn to face Pep, who has been more wary about the dead-end spot with its high embankments on each side. I watch as her hooves are being swallowed up by the fluid mix of sand and water underneath us. With Pep in the lead, we u-turn and get out lickety-split. I thank my partner for her attentiveness.

Further along, we need to cross the eroded stream bed again. I clamber down the steep embankment and ask her to follow. Six feet above me on the bank, Pep hesitates. To get out of her way, I climb up the other side, holding the very end of my mecate reins.

Not easy going

Not easy going

We’re staring across a divide at each other. It’s at least six feet across and six feet deep. Pep hesitates, assesses, thinks. I believe she’s flustered by the dogs; they are waiting at her heels for the next move. I call them to my side of the stream bed.

Suddenly, the mare gives me a I-have-a-better-plan look. In a split-second, she bows her head, sits back on her haunches, and l-a-u-n-c-h-e-s herself across the gap to land right beside me.

My jaw drops. I’m made speechless by her daring, by her athleticism, by that I-have-a-better-plan mentality which I’ve come to accept and love.

On days like these, our partnership – one that has had its share of ups and downs, literally and figuratively – becomes that much more of one.

I laugh. She licks her lips. And we continue on our way.


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