How to Break in Riding Boots: Simple Guide For Beginners

All equestrians struggle with learning how to break in riding boots at some point in their career.

However, it is a necessary, and I admit, sometimes painful process to ensure that they can wear those boots for the long haul.

Even the best horseback riding boots need to be broken in before they can be used regularly.

In this article, I will cover how to break in leather boots as well as provide advice to make the process easier.

How to Break In a Pair New of Riding Boots – 6 Tips

a new pair of horse riding boots

These are the steps I like to use for how to break in riding boots: Every riding boot is different so these steps may vary slightly from brand to brand.

  1. Get the right size boots- you will not be able to break in boots at all if they are the wrong size or a size larger because the leather will not stretch. 
  2. Famous boot maker, Ariat, advises that you wear them as much as possible, even when not at the barn. [1] This helps the leather start to stretch and conform to the length and shape of your legs and feet, especially around the ankle bone
  3. While you are wearing your boots, use thick socks, this will cause your feet to sweat and the moisture will help the leather soften 
  4. Bandage your blisters. As you get used to your new boots, you are bound to get blisters at some point. Use thick fabric bandages to help them heal faster and keep them from sliding around as you walk.
  5. Seek help if you are having trouble breaking in your boots yourself. It is better to pay a visit to a cobbler or shoe professional than to continue struggling on your own. This will ensure your boots are ready to wear in less time and that they do not sustain damage from trying every remedy in the book
  6. Take your time. The break in process will not be completed overnight, and every boot is designed differently and some will take more time to soften than others. Patience is key in this process.

Here is a video that also walks you through the steps to break in a new pair of riding boots.

Breaking in boots is not a quick process, it takes effort and patience, but the results are extra rewarding. Even though breaking in boots is hard, there are steps you can take to help everything go a little easier,

How Long Does It Take to Break in Boots? And Other Tips to Help You Be More Comfortable 

horse riding boots being used

From start to finish, breaking in a new pair of riding boots takes about 2 weeks to a month, but this varies depending on how often you wear them and how committed you are to breaking them in.

The following are some other tips from riders that I’ve picked up over the years. They will help you during the breaking-in process and hopefully get you more comfortable in your new boots as quickly as possible.

  • Put heel lifts in the bottom of your boots to give you more height and prevent chafing as you break them in. This can also help reduce the likelihood of bruises behind your knees.
  • Use leather or boot conditioner on your boots every day as you break them in to help the leather soften and stay soft. [2]
  • Wear your new boots for short bursts at first, then gradually increase the length of time you wear them.
  • Use a boot shaft stretcher to stretch the top of the boot shaft and the instep of the boot either individually or at the same time.
  • Always use boot trees to keep the leather from bending and creasing when you are not wearing them. The trees will also allow the leather to continue softening even after you take them off.
  • Loosen the laces when wearing your boots initially, so that your foot has more room to move and to help you prevent blisters.

Try using one or a combination of these methods to help make your boots ready to wear in less time.

Choose the ones that work best for you, all of them are helpful and tried and tested. They will help you feel more comfortable in any boots, even paddock boots for wide feet.

Here are some more tips from a rider, on how to break into equestrian boots.

RELATED ARTICLE: Best Tall Riding Boots

How Not to Break In Riding Boots 

With all the advice out there to help you figure out how to break in field boots, it can be difficult to figure out which of that advice is worth following. These are some of the things you should avoid doing when adjusting to your new boots:

  • Avoid filling your boots with water and letting them dry. This is a method used by those in the military, but the water can cause the leather in riding boots to break down or become warped.
  • Do not wear wet socks with your riding boots. Many people think this method will stretch out the leather due to moisture, but all this does is make it even more likely for you to get blisters.
  • Do not dry your boots with a hairdryer. Using a hairdryer on your boots seems like a good idea because the heat will soften the leather. However, the heat from the dryer actually dries up the natural oil in the boots making them stiffer and drier.

Choosing not to use these methods will save lots of time in the process, and keep you from having to buy a new pair of boots. 

Some of the tips that you may find are out of date and will not work for the quality of boots being sold now. You could end up ruining your new boots, especially if they are high-end custom boots.

 Use caution when deciding which methods to try because not all options are as promising as it seems.

ALSO READ: How to Clean Riding Boots


How tight should long tall boots be?

Tall riding boots should be tight enough to stay snug on your foot and calf to avoid slipping, but not so tight that they hurt.

This video will help you see if your tall boots fit properly.

How can I make my riding boots more comfortable?

Soften them with leather softener and wear them as much as possible. Wear thick socks to loosen the leather using heat and moisture, and wear them as much as you can.

How do I prevent blisters when wearing riding boots?

foot blisters

Prevent blisters by using heel lifters and wearing fabric bandages in the areas on your leg and foot where blisters normally surface.


All equestrians need to learn how to break in riding boots. It is a process that takes time and patience, that starts with buying the right size boots and wearing them as much as you can.

There are things you can do to make the process better such as wearing heel lifts and applying leather softener to the boots.

Riding Boots Break In Guide

Have you tried breaking in your new riding boots? Let us know what your experience was down in the comment section!


  1. “6 Ways to Make Your Boots More Comfortable | Ariat.” Ariat International, Accessed 4 May 2022.
  2. “Caring for Your Mountain Horse Boots.” Mountain Horse USA, 26 June 2019, Accessed 4 May 2022.
Bryanna Tanase
Bryanna Tanase

Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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