So here at e-Venting, we’ve done our best to get our hands on some great kit to try out and give you our honest opinions on – after all, horses are expensive enough without buying the wrong thing! Rather than give things ‘stars out of 5’ – which seems to inevitably result in everything getting 4 or 5 stars so you have no way of knowing which is best for you, we’re going to do ‘what we love’, ‘what we’d change’ and ‘who should buy it’, so you get a chance to figure out if this is something to add to the need/want/can live without lists! Also, we’ve tested everything for months not hours or days, so when we say it is hard wearing, we mean it, and we’ve used it enough to know.
First up is NEW’s XC lite boots. Before I start, in the spirit of full disclosure, I need to make a public service announcement: I am a complete convert to NEW boots and have used a version of the lite XC boots for years and years (see the photo further down). So I went into this test fully expecting to also love these boots.
About the boots:
The NEW XC lite boots are exactly what they say on the tin – lightweight boots designed for protecting your horse’s legs from knocks and strikes when going XC. They are made with orthopaedic EVA foam, which doesn’t hold water, and doesn’t heat up like neoprene will, and they have really tough tendon guards on the front boots and cannon bone guards on the hind boots. Add in some incredibly strong velcro fastenings and hardwearing outers, stitch with rot proof thread, and you have a really durable set of boots.
So the reason I wanted to get my hands on these boots for Tried and Tested is because they’ve subtly changed the design of the hind boots since I last bought a pair, and I’ve worn out a horse without wearing out the boots! My new horse is smaller than the old chap, and although the front boots in a medium fit her well, the hind boots just didn’t. I couldn’t get them to do up properly without slipping, but it seemed to me that was because of the cut, not because she needed a smaller size. On chatting to the lovely folks at NEW, it transpired I wasn’t alone, and they’ve redesigned the hind boots so they still offer great protection, but this issue is eliminated – the comparison picture shows what they’ve done.
And they’ve changed the logo – it’s now a snazzy metallic gold/silver/bronze design, which appeals to me after the success of London 2012. And there is a practical advantage here too – I had many a discussion with my trainer as to which way up the hind boots went, and because the the label was in the middle, there wasn’t an easy way to work it out. Now you can’t get it wrong! The outer material has changed too – it feels much more flexible and less plasticy.
What I Love:
- These boots are fantastically hard wearing. The old ones in this picture have been used continuously since 2005. Put them in the washing machine and they still come out looking brand new.
- Which leads neatly to my next point – they are incredibly easy to clean. I usually scrub on the yard with a dandy brush and then every so often chuck them through the washing machine. Easy.
- The velcro is super-strong, meaning I don’t need to tape my boots up. This is important to me – how many times have you seen tape coming off a boot and presenting a hazard – it just isn’t worth it to me, and with these boots I am confident the velcro doesn’t need a backup.
- They don’t hold water – so they don’t get heavy.
- They don’t heat up the legs. If you’re really concerned about this, try the airflow boots NEW do, but I simply don’t have any concerns about using these.
- The orthopaedic foam moulds to the legs, so the more I use them, the better they fit.
- They don’t rub, and because the foam moulds, if a bit of grit does get in there, it doesn’t rub either. My new horse is a princess of a TB, who is rubbed by everything… except these boots.
- The NEW customer service is above and beyond anything I have ever experienced anywhere. These guys will go out of their way to help – how many companies would swap a set of boots you bought online at a saddlery for you when you realise you’ve bought the wrong ones and need them for an event that weekend? NEW did that for me.
What I’d Change
They now do boots with straps in your XC colours. I love this idea. But my colours are orange and they don’t do orange straps. Boo!
Apart from that, the company was one step ahead of me, and had already changed the one thing I thought would make these boots better, which was the cut of the hind boots.
Who Should Buy Them?
I’ve only tested these on pretty TB-type horses, and they fit amazingly well. I reckon they’d fit chunkier or finer types equally well, and NEW are super-helpful when discussing sizing because I talked to them at length about it. So I would recommend ringing and asking their advice if you’re not sure what size to go for.
If your horse is particularly sensitive, you might want to go for the fleece lined version instead, and if you’re extra-paranoid about legs heating up, try the airflow – NEW pretty much have it covered when it comes to preferences like that.
Are they worth the money, or can you get away with cheaper imitations? Well, here’s a confession – I cheated on my NEW boots with some from a company which often puts out products similar to those on the market but at a lower price point. The NEW boots are better in all ways – they fit better, they don’t slip and the other boots rubbed. And my older NEW boots look in better condition than the much newer version by their competitor. So I’d say yes, they are worth every penny.
So in summary – if you’re looking for excellent customer service, incredibly hard wearing boots which fit well and don’t rub, and which provide great XC protection, then these are for you.