Apparel FAQ

My Unwavering Obsession With All Things Ariat

two people sit on horses with mountains in background
Written by Nicky H

Why All the Fuss About Ariat?

I coveted other people’s Ariat boots unashamedly for many years before I finally saved up enough money to invest in a pair of my own. That tells you two things. First, that Ariat boots are well worth lusting after, and second, that they tend to hover in the higher price range.

Ariat boots aren’t cheap, nor should they be. Using cutting-edge technology and high-quality materials, Ariat boots come in all shapes and sizes, but each pair is a cut above the rest.

Looking for reasons why every self-respecting equestrian deserves a pair of Ariats, or how to choose the perfect pair? Keep reading! With a little tender loving care, you can make your new favorite boots last for years.

new ariat cowboy boots

Ariat VentTEK cowboy boot display

Ariat Overview

When Pam Parker and Beth Cross founded Ariat in 1993, they were inspired by the legendary Secretariat’s performance on the race course.

His competitive spirit and big heart galvanized them to create a company that would put its heart and soul into manufacturing innovative footwear for the world’s top horse riders. Since then, the brand has expanded and diversified and is now a global innovator for all things equestrian.

All Ariat boots are designed and developed at the Ariat headquarters in San Leandro, California, but most of the manufacturing is outsourced. Many Ariat designs are produced in Mexico and China, while others are made in Vietnam and Italy.

The only collection that’s truly homegrown is the Two24 lifestyle collection.

Named after Secretariat’s record-breaking time of 2 minutes and 24 seconds, this collection features boots made from ultra-durable bison leather, which is about 40% stronger than cow leather.

The Vast Array of Ariat Boots

When Ariat started, they manufactured just two styles of boot, but that was enough to prove the effectiveness of integrating the technology of athletic footwear into boots for equestrians.

These days, Ariat creates boots for every imaginable equestrian discipline, along with fashion footwear, sneakers, and slippers.

Some of Ariat’s best equestrian boots include:


Boot Category

Example Boot Key Boot Features Price Point
Western Cowboy Boot Ariat VentTEK Western Boot Comfortable Western boots with supportive 4LR™ technology, mesh panels to boost airflow, and a slip-resistant sole. $$
Tall English Boot Heritage Contour II Field Zip Tall Riding Boot Elegant tall boots made from premium leather and featuring a Duratread™ sole with rider-specific traction zones. $$$$
Work Boot Treadfast 6” Waterproof Steel Toe Work Boot A steel-toed waterproof work boot designed to protect your feet against hooves and heavy objects. With a slip-resistant sole, mesh lining, and full-grain leather. $
Paddock Boot Heritage Breeze Zip Paddock Boot A stylish zip-up paddock boot with  4LR™ stabilizing technology, and self-cleaning tread. $$
Fashion Boot Dixon Western Boot Hand-crafted leather booties with ATS technology to support your feet on uneven surfaces and dance floors! Veg-tan leather and cut-out design for easy entry. $$

Other Types of Boots by Ariat:

  • Hiking boots – a wide range of durable, waterproof boots engineered for performance on any terrain.
  • Shoes & sneakers – lightweight yet durable casual shoes and sneakers available in a range of colors, styles, and sizes.
  • Slippers – after a long day in the saddle, slip your tired feet into a pair of warm and cozy Ariat slippers
  • Rubber boots – a practical range of waterproof rain boots and insulated rubber boots, including shortie boots and full-length Wellingtons complete with zips for easy access.
  • Dress $ fashion boots – from cute Western booties to show-stopping knee-high cowboy boots, Ariat’s footwear will turn heads at your local bar, just as they do at the barn.

Ariat Boot Sizing

Ariat boots are good, but not so good that you can wear the wrong size comfortably. Here are some tips on how to fit your Ariat boots correctly so they’re comfortably snug but not too tight.

Western Specific Boot Sizing

When you pull on a pair of cowboy boots, you should feel some resistance and hear a faint popping sound as your heel nestles into the boot. If you can fit a thumb’s width between your big toe and the end of the boot, you’ve found a perfect fit. Any looser than this, and the boots will feel clumpy and uncomfortable, any tighter, and they’ll squeeze your toes!

When you walk, there should be a small amount of heel lift – or space between your heel and the insole when you lift your foot. You should also feel some gentle pressure across the top of your foot.

Don’t forget, cowboy boots stretch a little as you wear them, so you want them to be a little tight to start with so they don’t end up flopping around like a pair of clown shoes later on!

English Specific Boot Sizing

While paddock and short jodhpur boots are relatively easy to fit, finding a pair of long riding boots that fit correctly can be challenging. Not only must they fit your feet, but they also need to hug your calves without restricting your freedom of movement.

To accurately measure your leg length and width, you need to measure the widest part of your calf and the distance between your heel and the back of your knee. Once you have accurate measurements, refer to Ariat’s size charts to find your perfect boot.

Ariat’s Proprietary Boot Technology

Ariat boots may be simple and stylish to look at, but under the surface, all sorts of different technologies are at work.

Ariat’s proprietary boot technology includes Four Layer Rebound (4LR™) technology that stabilizes the foot and improves performance. More advanced is their Advanced Torque Stability (ATS) technology that cushions and supports the foot.

ATS technology combines a moisture-wicking footbed with a heel stabilizer and ergonomic forked shank, creating a stable, comfortable, and cool environment for your feet.

As if that wasn’t enough, Ariat’s gone the extra mile and created two even more advanced pieces of footwear technology.

ATS Max has all the benefits of ATS but includes extra elements to improve shock absorption and reduce fatigue. It also includes Ariat’s Duratread™ technology that makes the outer sole slip-resistant, boosts durability, and improves ergonomic flexibility.

While this may all sound very advanced and technological, we’re only just scratching the surface of what makes Ariat boots so exceptional.

In addition to their 4LR™ and ATS technologies, Ariat also utilizes the SKYDEX™ cushioning heel system to reduce heel impact stress and integrated Core Stability Technology (CST) to improve flexibility, stability, and shock absorption.

Recently, Ariat added yet another game-changing piece of technology to its boots with its bantamweight soles. By combining a chemical compound with wear-resistant mapping, Ariat has created a durable, lightweight sole that’s much lighter than a traditional boot.

It’s not only Ariat’s boots that feature this advanced technology but their insoles as well. You can opt for Pro Performance insoles that absorb shock, reduce pressure in the heel, and provide natural odor defense. Or, you can experiment with Energy Max insoles that cradle the foot in a foam layer, providing temperature control and all-day comfort.

Again, this is only a small selection of the technology Ariat uses to create durable, comfortable footwear that can easily withstand the rigors of equestrian life.

Boot Break-In

Like any boot, Ariat boots need a bit of breaking in time, after which they’ll conform to the shape of foot and move with you as you put your horse through his paces.

At first, leather boots may be a little stiff and offer some resistance when you move, but over time, the materials will soften, making riding, walking, and running more comfortable.

The best way to break in a new pair of Ariat boots is simply to wear them a lot.

Ariat also recommends wearing two pairs of socks, providing it’s comfortable, as this will, they say, “stretch and break in your boots more rapidly than typical single-sock wear.”

You can also use a boot tree and a hairdryer to gently stretch and shape the boot to create the perfect fit. Slip your boot onto the boot tree and then heat them gently, using a hairdryer at its lowest setting. Before your boot gets hot to the touch, turn off the hairdryer and increase the tension on the boot tree. Allow the boot to cool completely before removing the tree.

If you still can’t get a perfect fit, consider changing your insoles, or if you’re wearing lace-up boots, switch up the lacing pattern. An Army method of lacing can create more space than a standard criss-cross pattern, alleviating pressure on the top of the foot, heel, or arch.

new ariat boots in an RV

Rookie Real Life: Breaking in new Ariat boots at the Quarter Horse Congress

Boot Care & Cleaning

You’re going to love your Ariat boots, so you want them to last as long as possible, which means taking good care of them. Leather boots need regular cleaning to prevent them from cracking or drying out and to increase their life expectancy.

If your boots are covered in mud or manure, you want to remove this at least once a week, if not daily. The easiest way to do this is with a clean cloth or brush.

Every week or so, you need to give your boots a little TLC in the form of a thorough clean.

Start by removing the surface mud and scuffs with a damp cloth or sponge, then use a soft-bristled brush to remove any remaining scuffs and to get the dirt from your zippers.

You may need a leather cleaner to remove more stubborn dirt or stains, after which you should apply a leather conditioner to protect your boots and keep them soft and supple. Work the conditioner into the leather using small, circular motions.

If you’re preparing for a competition, you can complete your session with some leather polish and a bit of buffing to create that show-ready shine!

boot cleaning tools

Source: Canva

Ariat Competition

Ariat is a market leader when it comes to English-style riding boots, and they make a darn fine Western boot to boot!

Few other brands really give Ariat a run for their money, although the UK-based company Bareback Footwear is fairly confident that it’s producing “the best Ariat alternatives.”

When it comes to Western-style riding boots, the competition is a little stiffer, with the likes of Tecovas and Justin Boots muscling in on the action. According to some, Justin Boots are a little more durable than Ariat’s, giving them a small advantage, but Ariat has a wider selection meaning you’re more likely to find your perfect style there.

Similarly, Tecovas boots are known for their high quality but tend to be more expensive than Ariat’s, which provides good-quality materials and construction at affordable prices.

Ariat Diversification

Over the past 30 years, Ariat has gone from creating two types of boots to manufacturing a vast range of equestrian and leisure apparel. Ariat also makes:

  • Men & Women’s clothing
  • English & Western clothing
  • Pet Accessories
  • Workwear
  • Accessories
  • Scrubs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where are Ariat boots made?

Ariat boots are designed and developed in the US, but manufactured mainly in Mexico and China. Some boots are also made in Vietnam and Italy.

Q: Are Ariat boots waterproof?

Not all Ariat boots are waterproof, but those that are will keep your feet dry in the heaviest downpour.

Ariat produces waterproof Western and English-style boots, all of which feature Ariat’s Waterproof Pro™ technology. This means they are constructed from waterproof premium leather and have a built-in barrier made from durable, waterproof material.

Q: Do Ariat boots stretch?

Ariat boots will stretch a little as you break them in, so you should look for a snug fit to begin with to prevent them from becoming too loose.

Q: How do you clean Ariat boots?

Clean off surface mud and dirt with a damp sponge or cloth, and use a leather cleaner to remove more stubborn dirt and stains.

Q: How do you break in Ariat boots?

The best way to break in a pair of Ariat boots is to wear them regularly. You can also use a boot tree and a hairdryer to soften and stretch the leather.

Q: Do Ariat boots run big or small?

Ariat boots run somewhere between a true fit and a little large, so you may want to order 1/2 a size smaller than your street shoe size.

Q: What does B mean in Ariat boots?

The B in Ariat boots refers to the width, with B being a regular fit.

Q: What does C mean in Ariat boots?

In Ariat boots, a C indicates a wider fit.

woman wearing cowboy boots feeding donkey

Wearing Ariat VentTEK boots for donkey training sessions

Parting Thoughts

To say that Ariat dominates the world of equestrian footwear is something of an understatement. In recent years, I’ve hardly seen a horse rider wearing anything else. Whether you’re more at home in the dressage arena or on the cross-country course, Ariat has the perfect boot for you.

You don’t even need to swing into the saddle to enjoy Ariat’s impressive range of footwear, and you can be sure Ariat makes its slippers with just as much commitment to quality as its top-of-the-range riding boots.

P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:


How to Make Your Boots More Comfortable – Boot Tips | Ariat
Size Charts | Ariat

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About the author


Nicky H