There are a couple of different boots you may want to consider as an equestrian rider. These are tall boots and short boots more commonly known as paddock boots and sometimes jodhpur boots. Winter boots are also a good idea if you are located in an area where it gets cold.
When you are looking to buy riding boots you want to make sure they are safe for riding, good quality and fit well. If your boots are leather there will be a breaking in period, where the boots need time to loosen up and become more flexible. Finally, you want to make sure you take good care of your boots so look spiffy and they last longer.
I am going to go over all these points to help you figure out what boots you may want to buy, as well as personally recommend boots I use now or boots I wish I still had and plan to buy again.
I will also go over tips for breaking in your boots and how to good care of them.
What Kind Of Riding Boots Do You Need?
Riders Under 12- Generally english riders under 12 will wear jodhpur boots with jodhpurs pants which are longer than breeches and usually have a strap that goes under the boots to keep the pants from rising, along with garter straps under the knee.
Jodphur boots are slide on short boots unlike paddock boots which have laces or a zipper but look similar. This is most commonly seen in hunter/jumper and equitation riding.
Jodphur boots are also worn for saddle seat riding.
General Schooling/Lesson Rides– Most commonly used are paddock boots with half chaps, but some riders prefer to wear tall boots.
Competition– When showing tall boots must be worn unless the rider is 12 years or younger which they can wear jodhpur boots and garters.
In general dress boots are worn for dressage and foxhunting. Although field boots can also be worn.
Field boots are more often worn for eventing, hunter/jumper, and equitation.
In saddle seat jodhpur boots are worn.
Safety Standards For Riding Boots
When you buy a riding boot from the tack shop most likely they are safe and suited for riding.
But what are the key features you want to look for in a boot safe for riding?
- Fully covered foot and heel.
- A defined heel that is 1- 1 1/2 inches high.
- Fairly smooth sole with small treads.
- Support over the ankle.
- Hard protective toe.
- No zipper, buckle or protrusion on the side that goes against the horse.
Riding Boots I Recommend
My favorite brand of boots that I have been using most of my years with horses has been Ariat. They are very comfortable well-designed boots and last for a long time if you take good care of them.
For paddock boots, I recommend the ARIAT Heritage Breeze Lace Paddock Boot (Take a look on Amazon). I like the boots with laces better than the zippers because it is more adjustable around the ankle if they need to be tightened up more or loosened. I currently just have tall boots but I am thinking about getting these boots again. I like being able to take my half chaps off after I ride.
For tall boots, I recommend the ARIAT Women’s Heritage Contour II Field Boot (Take a look at Stateline Tack). These are the boots I wear right now. They are really comfy for tall boots and the leather is of good quality. With other tall boots, I have owned right above the ball of my foot the leather gets all cracked and worn fairly quickly.
These boots have not had that problem maybe because the leather is better quality. The only problem is they are in a tall size and I can’t zip them up all the way.
I bought them used for a super-duper price that made it worth it despite being too tall. They fit great in every other way. Seeing as I am not showing right now I just deal with it.
I suggest you get correct measurements to make sure you get the best fit.
For winter boots, I recommend Mountain Horse Rimfrost Rider III Boots (check out on horse.com). These were my first winter boots. They kept my feet toasty warm. The ankles start off stiff and they aren’t the most comfortable to walk around in. Riding they are comfortable and the ankle support is great. They do loosen up a little bit in the ankle.
How To Measure For Correct Tall Boot Size
Make sure you wear the breeches and socks that you will normally wear with your tall boots, when you do the measurements.
- Get a measuring tape, a pen and paper to write down the measurement.
- Wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of your calf.
- Write down the measurement in inches and centimeters because different brands use different measurement units.
- Sit in a chair.
- Measure with the tape from the floor by your heel to the bend of your knee.
Getting A Good Fit With Your Tall Boots
Wearing properly fitting boots is important because ill-fitting footwear can be distracting and uncomfortable while you ride.
Tips for Tall Boot Fit
- Make sure your feet feel comfortable, not too tight and not sliding around in the boot. Wear the socks you will normally wear while riding.
- When you buy tall boots brand new they will be a bit stiff, because it takes time for the leather to soften and become broken-in. Once they’re broken in they will slide down and be looser around the calf.
- If you want a snug fit on the calf, get boot leg width true to size.
- If you like a relaxed fit or tend to fluctuate with your weight get a size up on boot leg width.
- Tall boots that are too short on the legs are not that flattering. If you are in-between sizes for height go with the taller size. Once broken in they will relax and the height will go down a little bit.
- While waiting for the tall boots to break in and for the height to lower, use heel lifts from the drugstore. This will help alleviate rubbing behind the knees.
Breaking In Your Boots
Don’t use water to break in your boots. Though this can help the leather to become more pliable, immersing boots in water can cause them to shrink. Water could also warp the leather and cushions in the soles.
Don’t use heat to break in your boots. Prolonged heat exposure can cause drying up and cracks.
Use a good leather safe oil like Leather Honey Leather Conditioner (Look at on Amazon).
Wear the boots around your home with comfortable socks to help prevent rubs, a few days for a week or two to help them break in.
How To Care For Your Boots
If you want your boots to keep looking new and last longer make sure you are properly cleaning and caring for your boots.
To keep your boots in good shape follow these guidelines.
1. Use a damp sponge or cloth after every use to wipe off any dirt, manure, or horse hair from your boots. These can cause cracks, abrasions and rot the stitching.
2. It is best to use cleaning and conditioning products that are specifically designed for boots, instead of using a tack cleaner. Using household cleaners on your boots could potentially damage the leather permanently.
3. For getting your tall boots to shine, apply a cream or polish made for boots with a soft rag, then use a boot polishing brush to buff. Finish with another clean rag until the boot is nice and shiny.
4 When it is wet and muddy use rubber covers over the bottom of your riding boots. After using let boots air dry with covers off, as condensation can build up.
5. Never let your wet boots be kept near heat sources such as space heater, fireplace, or wood stove as this will cause the leather to crack.
6. For tall boots use boot trees to maintain the shape of the boot. I like to use plastic inflatable boot trees but they also come wooden and plastic hard pieces. Make sure boots are dry inside before putting in the boot trees.
7. Make sure you store your boots are stored free from rodents and in a place with temperature-control like in your house.
8. For tall boots use boot bags. To keep your boots protected from dust, getting scuffed, consider getting boot bags.
9. When putting on tall boots with zippers make sure you pull down zippers all the way before putting on.
10. Every once in a while if your boots have zippers use a toothbrush and water to brush the zipper and remove any dust or sand in there.