In the Northeast, Show Season is right around the corner and I, for one, cannot wait! For those who are lucky enough to be able to winter in Florida, equestrian competition is a year round adventure. For those who stay home, winter takes on a whole different meaning; Riding indoors, many different types of horse blankets, giving a haircut to a very large animal and lots of riding clothes to stay warm. This beautiful photo was taken at Outfoxed Farm in Chester N.Y. It is a perfect example of winter in the Northeast and how happy our horses are to be outside and play in the snow! In this photo is “Sir Sunshine” (by Sir Donnerhall) enjoying his first winter in the states after being imported from Germany.This past weekend, I curled up in front of a fire and decided to catch up with all the magazines I subscribe to. To my delight, “Town and Country” magazine had an article on the E. Vogel Custom Boot and Shoe company, located at 19 Howard Street in New York City.
What great timing! I started to envision myself putting on my show attire and waiting until the last minute when I get on my horse to slip into my very own custom made pair of Vogel boots.The history of the company is summarized in the following quote taken from their website-
“E. Vogel Inc. was established in 1879 by Egidius Vogel in lower Manhattan very close to our present location. The tradition of highest quality has continued through the years with the 2nd generation Harold Vogel Sr. to the 3rd generation Jack and Hank (Harold Jr.) Vogel, and now the 4th Dean Vogel and his cousin Jack Lynch. Our boot and shoes are manufactured by the finest craftsmen in the world of the very best materials available.”
I have had my Vogel boots for about 20 years and I have been wearing them every year when I go to a competition. The workmanship is impeccable and their service the same. I have had very little work done except for having a full zipper put into the back of the boots. If you show, most of you can relate to the last minute rush of getting ready to go into the ring. For me, putting a full zipper meant easy on and easy off. In the past, I have actually thrown out my back wrestling with boot hooks and trying to force my feet into a too tight boot!
When showing, the dress code is very traditional, including the boots and they way they fit. Dressage boots vary in style from Field boots, as they have no laces at all. Dressage boots should also come up as high as the back of the knee when sitting in the saddle. The sides are higher to give the illusion of a very long, elegant leg while riding. The following photos are taken from Town and Country magazine and illustrate the style, elegance and quality that goes into every pair of boots Vogel makes. These are called “Field Boots”. Notice the laces. These are mostly used by English riders that prefer to jump fences or ride cross country.
These are Dressage boots. They have no laces and are made to specifically make the riders leg stay firmly in place while giving the most subtle of “cues” to the horse. These particular boots have the zippers towards the inside calves. I prefer mine with the zipper in the back.
Cousins Dean Vogel and Jack Lynch are the fourth generation of Vogels that are carrying on the tradition of fine made leather goods the company is known for. Vogel boots are the official supplier of the United States Equestrian Team and recently had the privilege of making the boots for Daniel Day Lewis for the movie “Lincoln”.
The “breaking in” process of new boots is very important and can also be pretty painful. The boots are usually made taller than your own heel to calf height to allow for the leather to establish folds and allow the boot to drop to it’s actual height. The boots can dig into the back of the knee but the most “folding” is done behind the ankle and can be quite irritating. Band Aids are a must in the tack trunk when going to a show.
Wooden boot forms were a common way to store the boots in between use. I keep these on display in my entrance just for fun. Nowadays, plastic forms with springs and hangers are simpler and easier to use.
These are some of my other favorite photos.
This is a photo of years worth of ribbons hanging in my garage. Only a rider can justify the insane amount of money spent trying to win a ribbon as opposed to the sheer joy of just having the privilege of riding at all.