Without good quality footwear, you increase your risk of getting your foot caught in the stirrup while riding.
Having a foot caught in the stirrup is extremely dangerous if you should fall off.
A good pair of boots will also help protect your feet on the ground. Anyone that has had a foot or toe stepped on by a horse will tell you that good protection for your feet is essential!
You may be wondering; what the best boots for horseback riding are?
That depends on many factors including:
The good news is that no matter the reason or price range for your horseback riding boots purchase there are many options to fit your needs.
First ask yourself:
What exactly am I going to use these boots for?
You may be beginning to take horseback riding lessons. Do you already own a horse and are looking to replace your well worn trusty boots?
stay around horses will be limited to a shorter time like at a
summer horseback riding camp
or a horseback riding vacation, you will still need a pair of quality horseback riding boots if you are going to be spending any significant time in the saddle.
If you are just getting started riding horses, are buying on a budget or for a child, be sure to check out your local classifieds, tack sales, and consignment areas in local tack shops. You can find great deals on quality used horseback riding boots often at a fraction of the cost of buying new. Used is also a great way to go if you plan on using them for short amount of time.
Horseback riding boots can be divided into a few categories. You can divide them by horseback riding style or discipline, such as English or Western horse back riding boots.
Within those categories there are schooling (practice) and show versions. There are summer and winter versions of boots.
Another category are muck boots that are made for barn chores such as mucking stalls and turning out horses. Generally, these boots are not made for riding. Lets take a look at the different categories of horseback riding boots.
Paddock Boots are shorter than traditional field or tall boots. They go to just above the ankle and usually tie or zip up. The paddock type are most popular for schooling (practice and lessons) and are often used for light barn chores in good weather.
they are often paired with chaps or half-chaps. Field boots are the traditional choice for english showing and upper level schooling. They come to just below the knee and are made of leather.
There are also endurance riding boots. They are lightweight and resemble sneakers. They can also look like a fabric paddock boot but have more of a heel for safety while riding. This is the closest type of horse riding shoe to resemble a street shoe.
Paddock boots can be made from synthetic materials or more commonly, leather.
This style of boot typically runs a bit narrower in width. If
you have a wider foot or a higher arch you may need to find some in a
wider width (recommended) or go up a half size to avoid pinching the
foot. Another option is to look for boots with a round toe. A round toe has a wider toe box. This allows more room at the front.
Paddock boots also have winter versions that are waterproof and
warmer. One of my favorites are the winter ice rider mountain horse
Most English horseback riding boots run a bit tight at first but then stretch
when the leather is broken in. You won’t see stretching as much on
synthetic materials so take that into account when sizing. Boots are
sized like regular shoes but their fit will vary by manufacturer. For
online buys look for free return shipping for wrong sizes, etc. A good
pair of paddock boots range from $100-$250.
Field Boots are the traditional attire of English riders and are also used for English horse shows. They are black, made of leather and are tall enough to reach just below the knee.
These boots typically cost
much more than paddock boots. A good pair is in the $400-800 range. They are required if you will be competing at rated horse shows.
Field boots are a bit trickier to size. You will have to get the correct foot size, height of boot, and width of the calf sizing by taking detailed measurements. Measurements are best done by a friend while you are sitting in a chair with your leg at 90 degree angle to the floor. For a calf measurement you will measure around the widest part of the calf. For the height measurement measure from the bottom of the heel to just below the back of the knee.
Field boots become much softer after being broken in. Due to the softening especially around the ankle, they will lose some of their height.
This is called the expected drop and will be from one half to
two inches. Be sure to check the expected drop for the boots you like
and take that into account on your measurements for height. Make sure
you follow the instructions for sizing closely.
You are probably already familiar with what western horseback riding enthusiasts choose for boots.
Cowboy boots, of course!
They are standard in the western world. People who don’t ride and just enjoy
the western riding wear look also wear cowboy boots.
Below I have assembled some frequently asked questions about
western cowboy boots that should get you headed for just the right pair!
Q-What are the uses of western boots?
A-They have many different uses. The western boot is the
most versatile. It can be used for riding, but a good, quality western
boot should be tough enough for work as well. They also put a good
western touch on outfits as well.
Q-What materials are western boots typically made of?
A-They can be made out of just about any hide. The most common are cow or goat hide, but gator, crocodile, ostrich, and snake are also popular. Hippo, elephant, and sting ray are also available.
Q-How do I find the right size? How do I know if a new pair fits right?
A-As far as sizing, a good rule of thumb is to go a a half size smaller than your regular shoe size. You want it to be snug at first, but not pinching. It should be snug across the top of your foot, and around the ball of your foot (the wide part right below the toes) at both the big and little toes. Your heel should also come up a little in the back when you walk. It usually takes around two weeks of wear to break a new pair of western horseback riding boots in.
Q-What are some characteristics of a good, quality western boot?
A-Feel and softness of the leather are good indicators of the quality of a good pair of western horseback riding boots. The softer they are, usually the better the quality is. Comfort and an understanding of whether that boot is made for what you want to do with it are also important considerations.
Q-What is the price range for cowboy boots? What is an average cost for a quality pair?
A-They start around $80/pair and up in price. Exotic leathers and handmade boots will be more expensive. However, a good quality basic pair of western horseback riding boots will run you between $150-200.
Q-Is there a particular brand of boot made for riding horses? What about for riding with spurs?
A-There is not a particular brand of boot made for riding, but you want to find a sole that doesn’t have much traction so it won’t catch in the stirrup.
Leather soles are good for riding, but the acid
in manure can cause those soles to break down rapidly. As far as spurs,
you can see some boots’ heels are a little wider to create a small ledge
for your spur to rest on.
A good pair of barn or muck boots are worth their weight in gold. When you are slogging around in horse manure and mud you DON'T want to be wearing your nice horse riding boots! You will ruin them fast!
boots are usually taller rubber or PVC boots made for doing barn chores.
They are generally sold in whole sizes only and come in unlined and
lined versions for working in the cold.
If you are going to be doing many barn chores especially in cold, wet climates you’ll want to invest in a quality pair of muck boots that are rated for work down to minus thirty degrees F. Otherwise, you could end up with really cold feet or even frostbite. These boots must be waterproof to be of any use to you.
Now you should have a good idea what to look for in your next pair of horseback riding boots.