A good pair of riding boots is essential to an equestrian’s apparel. Choosing the right boots isn’t simply a matter of how they look, because your horseback riding boots can also affect your mounting performance. Here are some tips on how to choose the right boot, the different styles of boots, and what to look for when buying them.
Unsuitable Riding Boots
When working around or riding horses, it is important to wear the correct type of footwear. A good pair of boots is important for protecting your feet should they get stepped as well as helping to prevent your foot from slipping out of the stirrup. Rubber boots are handy if you are mucking out the stalls, and if it is raining or snowing, however, they will not provide the protection you need. Snow boots and hiking boots also are unsuitable for riding, because they tend to box in the toe area so they can easily get caught on the side of a stirrup, and the tread is usually heavier, making it difficult for your foot to slide in and out of stirrups.
English Style Boots
There are several different styles of English boots to choose from. Traditional dress boots are the tall black boots typically seen worn in polo or other sporting events. These boots are correct when worn in almost all English riding disciplines. English boots are often simply a matter of choice because some riders find them comfortable and like the protection of a tall boot, however, other riders may find them to be overly hot or too dressy for casual riding. English field boots are similar to the tall boots, except they lace up over the instep. They are commonly worn in a hunter show ring and are considered comfortable for someone who has a high instep. The lacing also makes it easier to put on and take off. Both tall boots and field boots are available with or without a back zipper.
Ankle Height Riding Boots
Paddock boots, also known as Jodhpur boots, are English riding boots that stop at the ankle. This type of riding boot is typically worn by children in a show ring or by adults when wearing half-chaps when riding. These are leather boots, so they aren’t suitable for wearing around the barn as they can get easily damaged. Paddock boots are available in zipper, laced, or pull-on styles. When choosing the best riding boots for children, it is important to fit the boot to the child. Make sure the boot fits comfortably and provides the support children need in their ankles and soles.
Western Style Boots
Western boots are traditionally made with a higher heel than an English-style riding boot and some styles may have a crepe sole. Western-style boots are available in knee height or ankle height. They are usually comfortable and provide good protection and stability. However, most of the inexpensive western style boots are made with vinyl lowers, uppers, or both, which can break down quicker than leather and may make your feet hot when worn for a long period of time.
Running Shoe Style Boots
This style of riding boot provides more of a casual look. They are durable, comfortable and they are easier to care for than a traditional leather boot. Running shoe-style riding boots have extra support in the ankle and sole, so they are great for long-distance trail riders.
Horseback Riding Boot Materials
All styles of horseback riding boots are available in different materials, ranging from canvas to leather. Although leather tends to be the most expensive and requires the most care, it is typically the first choice for many riders. Leather riding boots are comfortable and will typically last longer than boots made from other materials. A good pair of riding boots is a great investment, especially if you ride frequently. Riding boots made from synthetic materials such as rubber or vinyl tend to be hotter, hold moisture, and can stick to your legs when the weather is hot. However, riding boots made from synthetic materials are great for wearing during wet weather, when you go directly from riding to working in the barn, and if you do not want to invest in an expensive pair of leather boots for occasional use.
How Many Pairs of Boots Do You Need?
If you are an avid rider, it is recommended that you have two pairs of boots; one pair that is used strictly for showing or competitions and another pair that is worn for casual riding. There are also different styles of boots required for the various disciplines, so if you show Western and English, in most situations, you will need both styles of boots. If you ride in the winter, it will be beneficial to invest in a pair of lined riding boots or a pair of tall boots with cuffs at the top.
There are several styles of the best horseback riding boots to choose from but keep in mind that the style you choose should have a heel that is approximately 1 to 1½ inches high and have a small tread. It is important to always think “safety first” when choosing your riding boots.
Melissa Petterson has been an avid amateur equestrian for most of her life. She not only enjoys riding but also writing about her experiences for a number of blogs around the web.