Mention boot polishing techniques around a group of die-hard equestrians, and you may very well start World War III. From spit to fire to nylon stockings, there are many odd ways to shine your boots.

With a good pair sometimes costing the same amount as a used car, there is tremendous incentive to make them last as long as possible…but honestly, who has two hours a day to spend polishing? Unless you’re George Morris (seriously, when does he sleep?).


In terms of longevity, keeping your boots reasonably clean counts for way more than polishing. Even if you’re not trodding about in the mud, a lot of dust and grit accumulates in a very short period of time (thanks, ponies!). Giving them a quick wipe off with a damp cloth as often as you can prevents gritty bits from scratching the leather.

These boots are… not… made for walking.

Making an effort to change out of your boots ASAP after riding helps keep them in mint condition. Basically just don’t let them touch the ground. No, this is not at all practical. Nothing is, in the horse world.



A slightly easier method is good old galoshes, or boot protectors. An eccentric frenchman by the name of Moulliere does some fantastic ones from thin, high quality rubber that are super easy to take on and off.

Not all leather is equal.

Boot leather has a different, more delicate finish than saddles and bridles. Don’t use your tack soaps or conditioners. Just don’t. Nope. Never.

Soap: the enemy.

Use a damp cloth, or soft brush, with warm water. If this plus elbow grease doesn’t do the trick, mineral spirits or Castille soap works as well, if used sparingly. Lathering up your boots will dry them out.

Dry, baby, dry.

After cleaning the dirt and dander off, you should wait until your boots are totally dry before any kind of polishing. If you don’t have time to wait around for ages (who does?), you could wipe them down one day and polish the next.

The polish.

Like anything to do with horses, the more time consuming route is better. Part of the purpose of polishing is to fill in little micro scratches, and that only happens after multiple very thin layers of polish. The word “glob” should not be in your vocabulary. As for the type of polish, I have heard multiple professionals swear by the good old Kiwi brand, but I also know Tucci makes a really nice one. Fun fact: polish works best when it’s slightly warm.

The rag.

I was rather embarrassed in researching for this article – my boot rags are just that, old rags. Not surprisingly, the quality of cloth does matter. Cotton is ideal for application, and a horsehair brush for final shine. Interestingly apparently fine, soft nylons give a super gleam when used for buffing. Toothbrushes are good for the little nooks and crannies such as under laces.

Happy polishing! May your boots shine like a diamond.

You May Also Like