There’s something incredibly inspiring about meeting true, classic and traditional equestrian entrepreneurs. The fact of meeting an owner of a 100+ year company is even more captivating! For some of you, when you hear “Vogel” you automatically think custom riding boots. However, there are still many who have not been properly introduced to “The Vogel” boots. Maybe you are just getting into the horse show world, and you may not know the stories behind this legendary company… so allow me introduce to you. At the 2012 Washington International Horse Show, I was able to reconnect with Mr. Hank Vogel himself where we laughed and reminisced on memories past and present.
A Bit Of E. Vogel History : E. Vogel Inc. was established in 1879 by Egidius Vogel in lower Manhattan, New York not too far away from the present location. The tradition of producing the highest quality shoes and boots has continued through the years with the 2nd generation Harold Vogel Sr. to the 3rd generation Jack and Hank (Harold Jr.) Vogel, and now the 4th Dean Vogel and his cousin Jack Lynch. Vogel’s craftsmanship, superior service, and customized fit are just a few of the qualities that come to mind on the company. Over the years, E. Vogel boots have been selected as the bootmaker of the United States Olympic Equestrian Team.
After being out of the competitive hunter/jumper circuit for a while, I was quickly taken back down a road of memory lane after spotting the adorable children’s custom Vogel boots sitting in the booth at the Washington International Horse Show…
When I saw these baby Vogel boots, I practically died! Even if your child does grow like a weed, these belong with you forever as a keepsake. I would even place these boots on a shelf or frame them for an equestrian home decor accent.
My Vogel Story:
I was instantly reminded of my Childhood Vogel boots when I spotted these boots from afar. My very first pair of tall riding boots were Vogel. Luckily my parents didn’t have to scoop out a fortune for my first pair. They were hand-me-downs from a family friend at the time who used to show the hunter pony “Arabesque”. I pretended they were my lucky boots as a little girl. I couldn’t wait to pull them on at 5:00AM before the horse shows. I even loved polishing and buffing them the night before the big shows. Mom always warned me to keep them clean before show time came, because they were “Vogels”. She would lecture me every morning to not trek through the mud because we had to treat our Vogels like gold. When I was a child and (probably still true today), I recall that if you didn’t have a pair of Vogels, you weren’t in the “cool” crowd at the pony ring.
As my competitive showing career grew in the pony hunters, so did my feet. I was an awkward sized little girl with big narrow feet and skinny calves. Even today, I’m quite oddly shaped with a size 9 shoe, 5’4″ and skinny calves… I have always had a problem with boots that fit properly. After I grew out of my very first pair of Vogel riding boots, Mom knew it was time that I needed my first pair of custom boots.
I met Mr. Hank Vogel about 12 years ago in the wintertime in Florida. He hasn’t changed a bit, and is as charming as ever. Mr. Vogel chuckled when I told him that I still remember the time when he properly measured me for boots at the Winter Equestrian Festival alongside the pony ring. I remember my feet could just reach the ground from the traditional red wooden chair. I even recall feeling like a princess perched on the chair while he was measuring me for my new boots. The quality of service and leather is still the same today.
We then discussed riding boot trends and what he sees in the show ring and on the streets… “A while back, everyone wore brown leather boots. Now, everyone wears black, but then again, brown is coming back. The top riders really create the trends.” It’s true. I’m even drawn to the black and brown leather combinations myself. As we chatted more about the many horse shows and boots, I couldn’t get over his adorable preppy style. His perfectly pressed argyle sweater and printed light blue bow tie made my day. Also, did you know Mr. Vogel has been coming to the Washington International Horse Show for over 40 years? “I like the people here, this is a really nicely run show… and I get to see all of my friends,” explained Mr. Vogel at the 2012 WIHS.
Because of popular demand, Vogel has started making more fashion boots for those that don’t ride or want to wear their horse show boots downtown. “Boots are everywhere nowadays, and so many people are buying fashion boots… even those that wear our riding boots,” explained Mr. Vogel. Riding boots are out in every magazine out there from Vogue to Harper’s Bazaar…with a variety of different leather options and styles, you will be sure to find a boot to suit your style and function at Vogel.