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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Polish up your turnout with advice from boot master

ABOVE: These boots aren't made for walking.

SOME years ago, on an equestrian forum, there was a lot of discussion in how to make good leather boots shine.

In an event like the famous Garryowen, where every tiny detail is important – from the quality and cut of the coat and breeches, to the stock, gloves and even the position of the spurs – the leather top boots need to be immaculate. And it’s not an easy task.

Well known show horse competitor and judge Claire Uren has always been meticulous in the appearance of her horses and in correct turnout wear, including boots.

She answered the request on that forum, and now, years on, with the same question asked on another forum, it’s found that some people kept Claire’s important recipe.

In this day of showies wearing patent leather boots, the classic leather top boot is still cherished for special occasions, so here is what Claire says about giving them the perfect show ring shine.

Claire Uren’s advice on polishing top boots (in her own words)

Everyone has their secret methods but this is what has worked for me.

As far as I am concerned there is only one polish to use and that is the good old Kiwi Parade Gloss.

I have tried every other one that has come on to the market - Collonil, Angelis, you name it I have tried it but nothing beats the Parade Gloss.

The true secret to a mirror shine is to fill in the pores in the leather without building too thick a surface that will crack.

The reason that boning was so popular years ago was that this help to work out the pores in the leather and create a smooth surface.

It was/is done by taking the rib bone from a lamb, boiling off the flesh and using that to work the polish in to the leather.

The boots these days are made of a much better quality of leather and really don't need it.

Step one: Take a tin of Parade Gloss, a bowl of boiling water and a piece of old towel. Get yourself plenty of polish on the end of the towel, dip in to the hot water and then work in to your boot. Finish one boot and then start on the other.

Step two: Go back to the first boot and using the rest of the old towel (it has been washed with a rinse of fabric softener and run through the tumble dryer hasn't it?) polish until your arms drop off.

Step three: Boot two.

Step four: Repeat step one.

Step five: Don't polish your boots. Take your hair dryer. Click on highest heat and lowest speed. Apply heat to your boot so that the polish 'melts' into the pores. It is interesting to watch. The polish where the heat is applied becomes very shiny and you see it melting over the surface. You can repair scuffs that have burred the leather or dull bits marked by the stirrup leather by adding a little extra Parade Gloss and being careful how you melt it.

Step six: Boot two.

Step seven: Repeat step two.

Step eight: Your boots are now so shiny you just want to look at them, not wear them, but for Pete's sake go and ride in your boots.

They may flake off a little polish at the crease over the ball of your foot and maybe around the ankle but just buff with a soft cloth.

The first time you do this it will have taken you all afternoon. The next time that you do them will take around 30 to 60 minutes.

The first step after use will be to clean the boots with methylated spirits. They will look milky and foggy looking but this is needed.

Repeat steps one to eight. You thought the boots looked fantastic the first time that you did them? Not nearly as good as this time!

About the only ready-made shine that I would use at a pinch is the Effax one but you have to be so careful that you have buffed it once it has dried and you never apply another coat without stripping it completely with the metho.

The Parade Gloss method gives me so much satisfaction and is low maintenance.

Mum knows best

Claire’s son Andrew is a policeman and she has been shining his boots since he was at the academy.

“Doing Andrew’s boots when he was in the academy was hysterical,” Claire said.

“He brought them every week and after the first time they only needed buffing.

“He turned up one week with his ‘spare’ pair. I picked them up and thought to myself ‘these aren’t his’. They were too big.

“I polished the boots (anyway). He turned up and I asked ‘whose boots are these?’

“Mine,” he says.

“No really. Whose boots are these?

"Mi …

“Hey,” I said. “They are two sizes bigger than yours. I am your mother. I know what size you wear.

“Oh … they are my mate’s. I didn’t know if you would do them.”

Mothers always know … and Claire’s famous shiny boot recipe remains everyone’s favourite. Even in the police force.

Images courtesy of ANGIE RICKARD and DEREK O'LEARY

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