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Archive for the ‘Boots & Hats’ Category

In our last post, we covered how to care for your riding boots. But what if you need a pair in the first place? Or need to replace a worn-out pair? How do you know which boots to buy?

Lucky for you, we have some answers on how to find the best boots for you.

The kind of boot you buy depends on the kind of riding you’re going to do. For instance,

If you’re riding English style or participating in a formal horse show:
The boot you want is a tall, snug-fitting boot that should reach up to or slightly below your knee. The boot should hug your leg in a close fit to prevent your foot and leg from slipping in your boot while riding. Many riders have found that the boots that zip in the back are easier to get on and off.

If barrel racing or participating in other types of Western riding:
A Western style boot is best for these types of riding. The boot typically comes to around mid-calf and does not fit quite as snugly as the English style boot.

If mountain riding or doing any kind of trail riding:
The best type of boot to wear if you’re trail riding is any kind of all-terrain boot. Since these come in all different heights, you can choose the height that is most comfortable for you. Make sure the boot you buys is made of treated leather, as that will help resist any dirt and water you may come across along the trail.

For the times you’re just going out for a casual, fun ride:
When you’re going out for a relaxing ride, giving your horse some exercise or going out with a group for fun, choose a low-cut boot, one that is around or just above the height of a sneaker with a back zipper, so it is easy to take on and off. Make sure that the boot fits your foot snugly but is still comfortable. This gives your foot stability while you are riding, preventing any slippage but still making sure you are comfortable during your ride.

The best type of boot for you really depends on the type of riding you will be doing, as well as your preferences for comfort. Of course, if you have any questions on the best type or fit for you, you can always ask the professionals at Hawkeye Tack & Western Wear – we’re always glad to help.

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After you’ve been out for a few rides, you may notice that your boots need some TLC. They’re dirty, have lost their shine and may even be beginning to smell a bit. Here are some tips for keeping your boots in tiptop shape.

  • When you’re out grooming, or cleaning or mucking out stall, use a pair of rubber boots rather than your riding boots. This will help keep your riding boots cleaner and nicer for riding.
  • When you are cleaning your riding boots, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for care and maintenance. This will help you determine which products are safe to use on your boots and will get you the best results.
  • If you’re noticing that the soles of your boots are beginning to smell a bit – after all, you are walking around in a barn and you’re bound to step in things now and then – you can use a pet odor and stain removing spray to take the odor off. Just spray a bit onto a rag and wipe the soles off to remove the odor. Avoid directly spraying the boots with the spray as you may accidentally discolor the leather.
  • If you’ve ever been out for a ride, especially on a hot or rainy day, then you know it’s not just the outside of your boots that need attention – the insides do, too. If there is enough room around your feet in your boots, you can use insoles, especially ones containing charcoal, to help prevent an odor buildup. Wearing good socks that absorb perspiration can also not only help prevent odors from building up, but blisters as well, which can be a problem when your boots are new.

Whether you use your boots for show or just riding, taking proper care of them will ensure they will be comfortable and last a long time.

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Finally, we’re going to look at hat shaping and hat etiquette to wrap up our series on hat care.

HAT SHAPING

  • You can bring your hat into us and have on of our Master Hatters shape your hat for you.
  • Fur Felt hats may be reshaped using steam from your teakettle. Apply a light coat of steam to the part of your hat that you would like to reshape. Do not soak the hat. Then, with your hands form the portion of the hat to the shape that you want and hold until dry. Repeat as needed. Apply hat stiffener spray to restore body to the fur felt to help hold the shape.
  • Most straw hats have a wire in the brim edge, which allows you to shape the brim.
  • Palm leaf straw hats are shaped by getting them wet and shaping to the style that you want. Allow to air dry naturally.

HAT ETTIQUETTE

  • Hats are to be removed for the National Anthem, the passing of the flag and funeral processions.
  • A gentleman should always tip his hat to a lady when greeting or passing her, its charming and mostly its an act of courtesy and respect. He should replace his hat after passing or after the meet and start to walk or talk.
  • It is considered proper for a man to remove his hat on an elevator especially if a lady is present.
  • A gentleman should always take his hat off in a restaurant unless no arrangements are made for him to hang his hat or to have it checked.
  • It is considered inappropriate for men to wear a hat in a church unless they are participating in a wedding.
  • A removed hat should be held in hand in such a way that shows only the outside and the lining is never visible.

Image courtesy of Mykl Roventine

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Keeping your hat clean will help keep it looking its best. Of course, you can always bring your western hat to Hawkeye Tack & Western Wear to have one of our hat pros clean and shape it for you. We can also advise you on most questions you have on your new hat. Here are some tips we have for keeping your hat clean.

Felt & Wool Hats

  • Always wash your hands before cleaning or handling a hat, especially if handling both light and dark colored hats. Have a clean place to work on your hat.
  • Begin on the left side and brush or sponge the brim & crown counter-clockwise (as you hold your hat with the back facing the floor) with the direction of the fur nap. This will help keep your hat dust free and looking good.
  • Brush clockwise on the underside of the brim.
  • Brush or sponge the crown from front to back.
  • Be careful as a small amount of fur will remain in the brush or sponge after each use. You should have a different hat brush or sponge for each color of hat that you have to keep from transferring the different color furs from your other hats to the hat you are brushing. This is especially important when cleaning a dark hat with a brush from a light hat or vice-versa. To make it easier hat brushes are available with light colored bristles to use on lighter colored hats and black bristles to use on dark hats. Sponges come in packages of two so you can use on different colors if you need to.
  • A vacuum with a brush attachment can be used to remove dust & dirt from your hat.
  • Cleaning powders are available to help remove light stains. Sprinkle powder on spot and use a hat sponge in a circular pattern to gently rub the powder into the spot. Do not rub so hard as to remove fur from the hat. Brush powder off of hat when done. Steam area to restore nap to the fur.
  • You can use a lint roller or some painters tape to remove stubborn lint.
  • If you get something sticky or dirty dripped or splashed on your hat or a soft drink or beer were sprayed on your hat, immediately run under a gentle stream of room temperature water and use the side end of your index finger to quickly but softly rub the stain area. When you feel that the stain is washed out (this should take less than a minute depending on the depth of the stain) stop and let the hat dry naturally. Remember you must try to remove these stain before they dry.
  • Do not use a hair dryer or other heat source to dry your hat as they may shrink the sweat band or cause the hat to loose its shape.
  • Some wool hats with very stubborn stain can be gently sanded with an emery board or piece of sandpaper. Be careful because you can create a bald spot and ruin your hat.

Straw Hats

  • Straw hats require little care. When dirty wash with a mixture of light soap and water, rinse good and dry with a towel let air dry.
  • Nustraw straw hat cleaner can be used on all colorfast straw hats, apply with a moist sponge, rub in a circular motion and dry with a clean damp cloth.

Image courtesy of emdot

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Proper care will greatly increase the life and enjoyment of your new hat. In this post, which is the first of a series, we will cover Fit, Hat Care, and Storage.

FIT

  • Generally your western hat should be worn ½” above your ears, however we believe that your hat should be worn how it feels best to you.
  • The hat should fit slightly snug all around your head but not so that it hurts or gives you a headache.
  • Hats that are too tight may be stretched up to the next size.  See the Master Hatters at Hawkeye & Western Wear to do this for you.  If you hat is tight a Hat Jack may be used inside the band to help hold its size when not being worn.
  • If your hat is to loose we can put some foam tape under the sweat band to tighten up the fit and customize your hat to you.
  • Sometimes during the hotter months your hat may get tighter.  This is usually caused by removing your hat with a damp sweat band and allowing the leather sweat band to dry too rapidly.
  • Hats are available in Round Oval which are completely round and in Long Oval which is slightly longer on the sides.  Let us help you choose the one that fits you.
  • We can cut your brim down for you, but we prefer to do this in small steps.  Once the material is removed we can’t put it back on, so its best for you to see it after each cut and decide when it’s the size that you want.

HAT CARE

  • Only touch your hat with clean dry hands, so that you do not leave dirt or skin oils on your hat.
  • Only handle your hat by the brim, not the crown or pinch, these are easily crushed or misshapen.  To put on or adjust your hat hold the front and back of the brim just next to the crown with four fingers.
  • Do not place a hat down on its brim, it may flatten and loose its shape.  Place your hat upside down on its crown in a clean place.  Cowboys believed that this would catch all of the good luck.  Old cowboys also believed that you should never let the brim of your hat touch the bed by doing so brought lots of bad luck.
  • Never leave your hat is a hot car, trailer, show box, closet or anywhere that is exceptionally hot.  The heat may cause your hat to lose its shape or the sweat band could shrink and your hat may not fit properly.  Direct exposure to sunlight also may cause hats to fade and loose their color.
  • Use an inexpensive plastic rain protector for wet conditions to keep your hat dray and to keep it from loosing its shape.
  • Occasionally flip down the sweatband so it can dry and air out.  Be very careful in cleaning a sweatband, do not get the hat wet or it may stain.
  • A hat carrier is a great investment if you travel with your hat and are not wearing it.

STORAGE

  • Store your hat in a hat box or plastic hat carrier.  Wall mounted hat holders are also available at Hawkeye Tack & Western Wear.  We also have carriers to mount in your vehicle, to hold your hat while you’re driving.
  • Store you hat in a cool dark dry place.
  • Clean your hat before storing for long periods of time.

Check out our next post to see what is recommended for cleaning your hat.

Image courtesy of Cindy Funk

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