Perfect your riding habit from the ground up
A quality pair of boots is an essential piece of riding gear. Boots should be comfortable and protect your feet from specific hazards you may encounter while riding and working around horses. Bonus points if you love how they look.
Riding boots should always have a heel—this is essential to keep your foot from getting stuck in the stirrup. They also should have a hard sole to protect against anything sharp on the ground. Closed-toes are a must!
Types of Horse Riding Boots
Boots will vary depending on your riding style or task. At present, my closet has five different pairs of equestrian-specific riding boots:
- English show boots
- Western work boots
- Western show boots
- Rubber boots for bathing/mucking stalls
- Insulated tall boots for winter riding
With so many choices, it can be hard to decide what is right for you. Fortunately, we’ll be featuring a variety of boots from each of these categories.
A word of caution when buying “riding boots” — make sure they are truly designed for horseback riding.
With many top fashion brands like Prada and Gucci featuring the “equestrian look,” riding boots are officially trendy.
English Boot Brands
If you’re an English rider, here are the top brands you’ll want to consider:
- Mountain Horse
Western Boot Brands
If you’re a Western rider, here are the top brands you’ll want to consider:
- Tony Lama
- Twisted X
Boot #1 – English Tall Boots
Dover Saddlery Riding Sport Essential Field Boots
This classically styled field boot is practical for daily use. An excellent value, this boot is crafted with full-grain leather and lined with synthetic leather. The elastic stretch panel helps ensure an excellent fit.
A gel footbed, Texon molded insole, and rubber outsole, delivers comfort and grip both in the stirrup and on the ground.
- Dover Saddlery is known for their quality, so you can trust that you are buying a product backed by great customer service.
- Customers who reviewed the size chart and measured according to instructions tout a fantastic fit for this price point.
- Crafted from real leather, these boots will require a break-in period.
Boot #2 – English Tall Boots
Ariat Heritage Contour II Field Zip Riding Boot
This boot is a fantastic option for someone looking for a comfortable, customizable fit without having to shell out the cash to buy custom. It can be tricky to find the right size in a tall boot, (especially if you are on the shorter side or have wide calves), but the Heritage comes in a variety of sizing options.
In addition to the normal foot size, you can also order short, medium, or tall height boots in slim, regular, full, and wide calf widths.
- Check the sizing chart and measure for a good fit—some reviewers mentioned the Heritage II was too narrow in the ankle compared to the Heritage I.
- Made from high quality leather, this boot is built to last and looks great in and out of the show ring.
- Full-length, stretch panel along the zipper for a more contoured fit.
Boot # 3 – Tall Boots
TuffRider Ladies Belmont Dress Boots
These boots are elegantly styled and crafted with comfort in mind. Made from real leather, these dress boots come in half sizes and narrow or wide calf widths to help you find the right fit.
TuffRider boots are known for quality at a price that won’t break the bank.
- Double check sizing—some customers mentioned that the foot sizing ran small, but the calf sizing ran large.
- Great value for the money; leather is described as “buttery soft.”
- Easier break-in period compared to other boots in this category
Boot #4 – Western Boot
Durango Women’s Rebel 10” Boot
Durango boots are known for being “the most comfortable and lightweight Western boots.” The Rebel line is durable and rugged without sacrificing comfort. Designed to be worn all day, these boots live up to the hype—I’ve had a pair for six years and counting.
These boots are known to break in fast. They come in both half and full sizes and a variety of upper colors.
- The cushioned footbed contours to the shape of your foot for maximum support.
- Rubber outsole has great grip and adds to the comfort of the boot.
- 1 ¼” roper heel makes these easy to walk in as well as riding for all-day use.
Boot #5 – Western Boot
Ariat Anthem VentTEK
Ariat boots are known for their performance and technology. The first to integrate athletic shoe technology into equestrian footwear, these boots offer comfort and durability in a functional package.
This particular boot style is perfect for riding in hot summer months, as it offers additional breathability in the leather upper to maximize ventilation.
- The VentTEK mesh panels promote additional air flow to keep you cooler during hot weather.
- A very comfortable boot with little-to-no break-in period required.
- Available with and without a composite safety toe.
Boot #6 – Western Boots
Justin Women’s Bent Rail 11’ Broad Square Toe Boot
Justin boots are “the standard of the west since 1879.” The Bent Rail Boot speaks to the spirit of independence, hard work, and authenticity of the cowboy.
These boots are comfortable in and out of the saddle and are designed to be worn all day, every day.
- Justin boots come in half sizes and wide widths to help you find the perfect fit. Not all Western boots have a wide option, so if you have wider feet, these are great boots to try! They may run large, so consider sizing down ½ a size from what you would normally order.
- This style of boot comes with a leather sole, perfect for horse showing.
- Little to no break-in period required.
Boot #7 – Tall Boots
Dublin Women’s River Boots III
The Dublin boot brand balances function with fashion. Featuring the Rider Comfort System, each pair of boots is crafted around a steel arch foundation, antibacterial and anti-fungal insole, impact absorbing cushion, and sweat control lining. These boots are comfortable in the saddle, around the barn, and out in public.
I’ve had a pair of Dublin boots for eight years and counting—they are my go-to boot in wet or cold weather!
- Available in multiple colors, half sizes, and calf widths for the perfect style and fit.
- Tough Tec rubber soles help grip in wet or icy conditions
- Waterproof to keep your feet dry and cozy in all kinds of weather
Boot #8 – Paddock Boots
EQUISTAR Women’s Riding Boot
If you’re just getting into horseback riding or looking for a budget paddock boot, look no further. This affordable paddock boot is made of synthetic leather, features a front zipper, and has a 1” heel.
Designed for comfort, they are easy to clean and functional for riding or barn chores.
- Synthetic material wipes down quickly; no leather conditioner needed!
- Economical price point is perfect for beginners or growing children.
- Comes in half sizes for a better fit; works well with half chaps!
Boot #9 – Paddock Boots
These boots were designed for both form and function. They come with the durability that Ariat is known for, but are also on-trend and inspired by country fashion. These boots can hang in any weather conditions, as they are made from waterproof, full-grain leather.
They come with elastic panels and a heel loop tab so they’re easy to put on and take off.
- Great traction in wet, slippery conditions.
- All-purpose boot, great for a variety of jobs around the barn.
- Some reviewers mentioned that these boots were difficult to break in.
Boot #10 – Rubber Boots
Muck Boot Women’s Slip-on Chelsea Equestrian Boot
These boots are 100% waterproof and perfect for crossing over between barn chores and time in the saddle.
Specifically designed for equestrian and on-the-farm life, these boots fit both English and Western style stirrups.
- Great price point for a boot that can do it all.
- Perfect for barn chores, these also excel when riding in cold, wet weather.
- Unfortunately these boots don’t come in half sizes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a riding heel on a boot?
The function of the heel is to keep the foot from slipping through the stirrup. Western style cowboy boots come in a variety of heights.
A typical “riding heel” is 2” tall.
A walking heel is lower, at 1”. This is the same height as a roper heel. The roper heel is quite popular today as it is comfortable for both riding and ranch work.
Should horse riding boots be tight?
- Tall Boots: It is OK if new boots are snug, but they should never cut off circulation. If your new boots have zippers, you should be able to zip them all the way up while standing. If you can’t, they are too small, and you should size up.
- Western Boots: Again, the boots should feel snug but not tight. It’s OK to feel some resistance putting on the boot, but if you must struggle to get it on, it is too small. The “thumb trick” is not an indicator of proper fit in a Western boot. Instead, you should be able to wiggle your toes. If your heel slips a little bit, that is OK—as the boots form to your foot, that should go away.
Can you stretch riding boots?
Yes, riding boots from leather can stretch. Unfortunately, there is some truth behind the phrase “breaking in” boots! That said, not all boots will require a break-in period. The type of boot will generally affect the break-in period. For example, field boots will generally drop 1-2” once they are completely broken in.
You can speed up the break-in period by wearing your boots around the house before trying them out at the barn, using leather conditioner where the boots need to stretch, or even dunking the boots in warm water and wearing them until dry.
Boots are an important investment in your riding career. Fit is critical! There are tons of sizing options and features available to find the perfect boot.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
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