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The Couch Cat returns: breakin’ in shoes and horses

13 April 2017
Author   Jackie Asheeke

The other day, I violated a hard learned lesson and wore a brand new pair of shoes I bought for office wear, to shop in the mall. I thought that since I was just running in to grab ONE thing, I would be ‘in and out.’ Of course, it never works out that way. Inevitably there are distractions left, right and center, and you end up hiking around the mall, talking to friends you meet and standing in long, unmoving lines all while wearing the WRONG shoes.

That, dear readers, is a super big no-no. Shoes need to be broken in before worn, just like a horse needs to be broken in before it is ridden.

The day after my feet faux pas, my pied were still angry with me…. In fact, they ached every few minutes to make their point. I tried to massage them with soothing shea butter to say I was sorry, but each time I touched them, they stung me to let me know that they are still annoyed. If my feet had hands, they would have slapped me.

When breaking in a new pair of shoes, NEVER, EVER wear them for walking long distances (unless these are running or exercise shoes). Break them in slowly by wearing them first to a location where you are sitting down for the most part. Wear them initially somewhere you will not be standing on stone floors, cobbles, marble or rough, uneven ground.

On their first night out, wear them to a place that is carpeted or has wood floors. And park your car as close to the entrance of wherever you are going. Do not trek through parking lots and city streets in a brand new pair of heels.

If going by taxi, wear an old pair of shoes to the place you are going and carry the new shoes in your bag. Duck into the bathroom before entering and make the change.

Also, when trying on your new shoes in the store, put BOTH shoes on, not just one! Sometimes several people have tried on the right shoe before you and it stretches slightly.

This can trick you into thinking that both shoes will fit that well when you take them home. You will be hit with a painfully rude surprise to have one foot in a shoe that fits nicely and the other screaming for help with blood circulation.

Also, a good reason to try on both shoes and walk around the shop in them is because one of your feet can be slightly larger than the other. Miscalculating in the shoe store will make your first wearing a total disaster. Believe me….I know how hard it is to smile, deliver a speech, or be attentive in a meeting when your feet feel like someone pounding on your baby toe with a hammer.

I am not a horseback riding expert, but from the books and stories I have read, you need to break in new shoes like you break in a horse. I read a website that talks about horses, and I saw striking similarities in how one must break in a new pair of badass shoes.

First, put the shoes on frequently, before you actually wear them somewhere. With the new horse, you have to spend time bonding with the animal and you cannot rush the breaking process. You will need time to build up mutual trust with your new shoes and your new horse.

Believe me, shoes have personalities whether you accept it or not. We all have shoes that squeeze; shoes that massage and shoes that make us look deliciously long-legged. There are shoes that are clunky and creek and click and make all kinds of complaining noises when we wear them. All of that is shoe ‘personality.’

With a horse, you have to know its moods and be able to pick up when something is wrong.  Likewise with shoes. You’d better know that sound of a heel beginning to break or a shoe slipping on a wet floor or when your heel plate has come off or you will pay an embarrassing price.

You have to spend time with the horse and teach it commands. Amen for shoes too. You need to wear those beasties and urge them to not pinch, not cut, and stop squeezing so hard that your toes don’t have enough blood. Do I talk to my shoes? What….You don’t?

Before you even think of putting someone on a new horse you have to get it used to wearing the saddle and bridle.  You see the parallel? No…. stop laughing… I am serious.

You need to know all the zips, buckles, clips, and clasps and make sure they are all attached and loosened (or tightened) properly BEFORE you wear the shoe for the first time. Imagine the strap to your sling back shoes flopping off your heel because you didn’t adjust them properly.

When one of your sling back pumps becomes a mule with no warning, you have a major problem that could see you throwing your shoe and limping around with one bare foot.

Finally, you need to get those shoes used to what you are going to use them for. I bought a badass pair of evening shoes to wear with a super great black sequined evening gown I wore to be an MC of an event once.

I tried on the shoes WITH the dress before I made the purchase and walked around my house wearing the dress and the shoes before I went onto that stage in that outfit. People forget this step and can end up falling on their faces as they step on the hem of their too-long dress, or having a gown that is too short because the heels of the shoes are too high.

Sometimes I wear a new pair of evening shoes in the evening while fixing dinner. Some people’s feet swell in the night and you need to know if that is you and prepare for this.

Once your shoes are broken in, your rhythm together when you walk into any room will be in sync – you and your shoes, a perfect horse and rider. Now, that works for me.


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