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Driving boot repairs and jacket mending: the place to go

  • However well you look after your kit, there will come a time when you need to look into riding boot repairs. Our boots put up with all the elements – wind, rain, mud, sun, cold and heat, as well as horse manure and sweat – so it’s no wonder that eventually they need a bit of TLC.  Leather riding boots are a major investment, expensive to replace, but a well-fitting, quality pair should last for decades if properly looked-after. The good news is that many parts of a well-made boot can be fixed, so there’s no need to chuck a leather boot out for a broken zip or dodgy heel.

    One alteration to consider to preserve the soles of your boots is add protective thin rubber soles to your existing ones, especially if you wear your boots in the stable a lot as manure and urine will degrade the leather fast. This protects the stitching and prolongs the life of the original sole, and is around a third of the cost to replace. Rubber soles are fitted to the metropolitan mounted police boots for health & safety reasons.

    Saddlers 4 You director Pippa Terry says that “if a boot is kept well, looked after and treated every now and again to a good leather feed or protector, they can be repaired time and again”. However, they would advise a boot as beyond repair “once the uppers begin to split or break down, depending on the manufacture of the boot”.

    “Genuine leather boots are always going to wear better than coated leather boots, and repairs to the uppers are more achievable with real leather,” she says. “Boots with a Goodyear welted construction [a traditional, advanced form of fixing the upper to the sole with two stitches] will enable the user to have them resoled time after time.”

    Where do I get my riding boots repaired?

    Find a local cobbler who specialises in riding boots. Some cobblers even offer postal repair, saving you a trip (providing you know you are happy with the level of workmanship). They should be able to offer the following services: replacing soles or heels; replacing or altering tops; rewelting around soles; fitting or replacing zips, poppers and rivets; fixing chaps; inserting panels and stretching the boot. After that, your boot will look and feel almost as good as new.

    Remember to clean your boots thoroughly before you take or send them to the cobbler, or they are likely to be returned – unrepaired – to you at your cost.

    Here are specialist riding boot cobblers in various parts of the country, of which several offer postal repair.

    Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos: The Blockley Cobbler, 01386 700 115

    Barnard Castle, Co Durham: Star Cobblers, 01833 690113

    Winchester, Hants: Calcutts, 01962 760210

    Orpington, Kent: Original Cobblers Ltd, 0208 3001960

    Wells, Somerset: Saddlers 4 You, 01749 673298

    Perth: Sole Saver, 01738 245384

    Southend-on-Sea, Essex: Boot Repair Company, 0113 200 3947 – they also repair brushing boots!

    Online service only (posted to Wythenshawe, Manchester): Timpson

    How much do riding boot repairs cost?

    Riding boots can be repaired at a fraction of the cost of a new pair of boots. The greater the work, the higher the cost. For instance, a replacement zip might cost under £50, while fitting a new zip to an existing boot will set you back £80 – but this may make the difference between discarding the boot which you cannot force on your leg and enjoying it anew. Full replacement soles (rubber or leather) should cost in the region of £90, while a thin rubber protective over-sole in the region of £2o.

    The smaller fixes and alterations may cost as little as £30 for an ankle boot zip replacement, or stretching the boot (instep or calf) from around £15.

    Consult a few cobblers to find competitive prices and judge the quality of their workmanship for yourself.

    Jacket repairs

    Your boots now look the part, but it might now show up the slightly shabby jacket, which could do with a trip to the mender as well. Depending on where the jacket has ripped or needs patching, you may be able to send it to your local dry cleaners or seamstress for a quick fix. However, a specialist hunt tailor will give you peace of mind and is more likely to have the specialist cloth or wool to match your jacket. You may also need special buttons.

    Calcutts in Winchester, Hants, not only offer comprehensive repair services for leather boots, they are also a good port of call for hunting coats. The popular saddlers and riding outfitters provides “a complete repair service on hunting coats, and boots and all leatherwork, as well as providing they supply of all the hunt buttons and specific collars, which we also put on”.

    If you had your jacket made or bought from a specialist hunting tailor, go back to them for the most appropriate advice, as they will have the right cloths to match.

    In this current era of escalating prices, it’s a case of make do and mend, so you don’t have to splash out again for those much-loved, high-cost items which, with a small investment, can be made to look as good as new.

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