We’ve all been in the situation where you are walking across the field in your “new” yard boots, or climbing up a muck heap, to suddenly realise that the boots have split and you’re letting in more water than you’re keeping out. The frustration over the fact that the yard boots, wellies, or muck boots were only a few months old will then leave the more stubborn horse owner to walking around with plastic bags in their boots for the next few months, or for the more sensible owner – a hole in their pockets bigger than the one in the boots from constantly having to replace them!
Mucking out boots are essential for yard life – they offer you warmth, protection, a waterproof layer, grip and are the most practical solution for when working on the yard or even if you are out walking. However, there are so many different brands on the market (and so many not up to the task!) that it can be difficult to find the best mucking out boots to do the job!
If any of the above sounds familiar, then look no further! This article will tell you all you need to know about buying mucking out boots, whether you are wanting them for walking across the fields, completing jobs on the yard, travelling to competitions or events, there will be a pair for you!
Features to Consider
There are some main things that you should look for when purchasing muck boots. Whether you are wanting boots to go out walking in, or whether they are genuinely for mucking out, muck boots are more often than not the way to go….providing you can find the right pair….
The comfort of your muck out boots is crucial. No one wants to be working round the yard all day, or spending a long day at a show ground, to find that they have blisters on their feet within the first 5 minutes and it feels as though they are walking on wooden planks!
Opt for boots that have a number of different rubber layers on the sole of the boot. It is obviously important that the outer layer is hard to ensure durability and grip, but we would expect the best muck out boots to have 2 or 3 layers more of softer rubber and fabric lining on the inner sole of the shoe to cushion your foot when you are walking around the yard.
It is also worth considering the weight and size of the boots – admittedly chunkier boots are probably going to be more durable and offer better protection, but these can sometimes be very heavy and increase fatigue when out walking. If this sounds familiar then we would recommend opting for boots that have a rubber “shoe” and a neoprene calf as this will reduce the weight and lack of flexibility in the boot.
Durability is one of the main issues that we find in muck out boots. As hard as this may be to believe – many mucking out boots don’t actually use rubber or materials that are resistant to degradation from animal waste, fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals. This means that EVERY TIME you muck out a stable in your muck out boots, they are becoming more damaged and likely to split or crack!
We would definitely suggest that rubber is the material that will be up to the task in these situations. Make sure to check that the rubber in your muck out boots is going to be able to withstand the conditions that you are working in and that it is thick enough to avoid any cracking in the fold from the movement of your foot.
TOP TIP: Many traditional wellies, regardless of the brand, are not designed for mucking out. Make sure to check in the product description that the boots will be able to be used for “agricultural use” as this will show that they have been tested in such conditions and are up to the task!
The most important thing that we look for in mucking out boots is that they are waterproof. Too many boots on the market are letting in water within the first 5 minutes! The best way to achieve this is to opt for rubber and neoprene boots. The best mucking out boots actually offer neoprene of such high quality that it is used by scuba divers – and no matter how bad your fields are in the middle of winter…they can’t be THAT bad!
Other features that are worth looking for when checking how waterproof your boots are going to be is whether the seams are sealed with rubber tape, or even better if the boots are seamless in their construction and created with PVC molds. Either of these options will help to keep your feet dry!
TOP TIP: If all the jargon and the materials gets a bit much for you…look out for boots that are advertised as 100% waterproof. If they are then this almost always means they will be covered under the manufacturers guarantee for any water intake, so your pocket and your feet are protected!
Owning horses, or any animals that require being outdoors for long periods of time, can make those winter months less than fun. If it’s not the rain and the wind, then it is the snow and the ice that you are coming up against, and the best way to protect against this is with the grip on your mucking out boots.
Many of the best mucking out boots will have a Vibram sole, which will offer a good quality grip and stop you slipping the whole way to the muck heap! Some even have patented “ice protection” which has extra grip for icy conditions.
There are many different styles of muck out boots, so the ones that you go for really comes down to personal preference. It goes without saying that a taller boot is going to keep more of you protected from the mud and the mess that comes as standard practice in everyday country life, but these can be too warm in summer. Equally, a shorter boot will usually be easier to pull on and off, and most can also be ridden in without risking any damage to your saddle (although are potentially rather uncomfortable if you don’t have any half-chaps lying around!).
However, if you are like me, regardless of the flexibility short boots have to offer, the style and the practicality of a long boot wins every time – particularly if you are visiting other yards and grounds and don’t know what you are going to be coming across. There are now some tall mucking out boots that you can actually ride in – they offer grip on the inside leg, and are more fitted around the calf, with soft material to avoid damage to the saddle. These are perfect for those cold winter months, when just the thought of swapping into your leather riding boots gives you frostbite!
SAFETY TIP: Make sure to consider the safety of the boot if you are wanting to ride in them. Boots that are too chunky risk getting trapped in the stirrup and boots with smaller heels risk your foot going right through the stirrup!
Now you know the main features that you need to look for in mucking out boots, it is worth considering some of those extra features that will really turn your new boots into the best mucking out boots you have ever owned!
- Fleece lined – Fleece lined boots really come down to personal preference…some people love the extra warmth and comfort that they offer, plus the fact that they will be able to keep your feet warm all the way down to around -10℃! Other people feel that they add to the “smell” after a long use as they stop your foot from breathing as easily.
- Anti-perspiration lining – Anti-perspiration lining will be a life saver through those summer months! We’ve all been there, wearing our fantastic warm boots on a nice summer day, to then find that it takes 3 people and a shoe horn to get them back off afterwards! Anti-perspiration lining will help to avoid this by ensuring the material is breathable and can wick away any sweat or moisture from the skin.
- Steel-toe-cap – Some brands of muck out boots now offer steel-toe caps for that additional safety. Anyone who has ever had a tonne of horse stood on their foot will know that those intelligent creatures of ours can move incredibly slowly when they want to (and the damage that can be done when they do)! Steel-toe caps will help to protect your precious feet from any unforgiving horse hooves, along with any dropped tools or equipment.
- Pull tabs – Sounds simple, but I would never go for a pair of mucking out boots that don’t have good quality pull tabs, with the tabs on the inside of the boot to stop them catching on anything.
- Reflective strips – Some mucking out boots come with reflective strips on the heel or the back of the boot. This is really down to personal preference but reflective strips will help you to be spotted through those darker months when it is going dark by 4pm!
Maintaining Your Mucking Out Boots
Once you have bought the best mucking out boots on the market it is important to look after them to make sure that they can look after you! We have provided some top tips for maintaining mucking out boots, so you can be sure to get the best from them.
- Always hose or wipe down boots after use – particularly if you have been mucking out stalls or stables, as the ammonia can cause the rubber to break down.
- Use a little soap and water on your boots every so often to remove any more stubborn dirt or muck, if this is left on for too long it can cause cracks in the outer layer.
- Use a conditioner or wax polish on the boots to keep them well maintained and stop fading and cracking. We would recommend doing this every few months.
- Never dry your boots out near a heater as this can cause the rubber to dry out, if they have become particularly wet, simply fill them with old newspaper and wait for them to dry.
- Always store your mucking out boots in a cool, dry location, out of direct sunlight. It is also important to make sure that they are stored upright if you want them to maintain their shape. There are a range of boot bags available on the market to help with this!
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I get a warranty with mucking out boots?
Yes! Most manufacturers offer a 12 month warranty for mucking out boots and some even offer 2 year warranties. It is important to check exactly what is included in these warranties though, as many can be quick specific about the materials that are covered and what they are covered for! Check reviews of the customer service that different companies provide as this will give you an idea of what to expect!
Can I use mucking out boots as walking boots?
Yes! Many people prefer using mucking out boots to walking boots as they tend to have a more stylish finish and offer a longer boot, so more protection from the great british weather and countryside! The only slight problem you might come across is the weight of some muck boots, but this is easy to avoid!