What Are Paddock Boots and Tall Boots? What Should You Use?

What is a paddock boot?

Curious about the difference between paddock boots vs tall boots? Paddock boots vs riding boots?

When you start riding you will come across a variety of footwear, but it falls into two main categories.

I personally prefer paddock boots as spend a lot of time in them, comfort, cost, and durability are my biggest priorities.

Here I will give you all the details about this type of riding boots, using my lifetime of experience, so let’s get started.

What Are Paddock Boots?

Paddock boots are an everyday riding shoe that equestrians use. They are designed with the comfort and safety of equestrians in mind.

Another name for this type of riding shoe is jodhpur boots.

black leathered paddock boot

To ride horses, you can’t just wear any type of boot.

You need to have a shoe with a heel, that will help prevent your foot from slipping all the way through the stirrup. And trust me, getting your foot stuck in the stirrup is one of the scariest incidents that can happen!

I’ve been there, even with paddock boots and years of experience, so I don’t even want to think about what could have happened if I was wearing something like sneakers.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Paddock boots are short, ankle-height boots that are mostly used by English riders, rarely western riders.

They come in three main styles: laced, pull-on, and zippered. A zip boot is the easiest to take on and off.

They are a great option for children that might have trouble doing up the laces. I personally prefer laced paddock boots, because I feel more support around my ankles with them.

Some brands, such as Ariat, have put a lot of effort into developing equestrian-centered sole treads and insoles that provide extra comfort and absorb shock. They also work advanced technology into their boots.

Adult competitors usually do not wear paddock boots, but this is increasing with half-chaps that create a picture of a field boot.

However, many children do wear them for competing and with them wear jodhpurs, instead of breeches.

For everyday riding, though, paddock boots are the most common type of footwear for adult riders and children.

Don’t miss out on the latest horse riding boot trends! Check out our article to find the perfect pair for your equestrian activities.

Are Paddock Boots Good for Riding?

I find paddock boots fantastic and the best option for riding. They are my first choice. It is important to have a good pair of boots that you find comfortable and supportive.

paddock boots with half-chaps

Luckily there are many different styles to choose from, even if you just enjoy pleasure riding!

These types of English boots are made for riding. It will have the correct heel size.

They will also not be too bulky with overly thick soles. Also, the soles will not have deep treads. All of these are essential safety features.

Additionally, the toe area of paddock boots is sturdy, which will help protect this vulnerable area of your foot.

You will still suffer if a horse steps on you, but it could help prevent a broken toe, which in my book is pretty important!

Do You Need Half Chaps?

If you use an English paddock boot, you will need half-chaps. Half-chaps provide a couple of different benefits to the horse rider. They protect the lower leg from chaffing, which is pretty darn sore.

paddock boots and half chaps

Half chaps also provide you with extra grip in the saddle and even help keep your legs dry and warm in bad weather. You are meant to wear half chaps with breeches, which do not cover your leg all the way to the ankle.

Half chaps protect your exposed leg and prevent your breeches from moving up or twisting. They will also prolong the life of your breeches.

Do Children Wear Half Chaps?

When showing with jodhpurs, children do not wear half chaps. Instead, they wear a garter strap, which is a thin piece of leather the wraps around the leg, just below the knee.

children wearing paddock boots with rainbow-colored socks

However, when riding at home or in lessons I always recommend that children wear half chaps. They will give the child more security in the saddle and help protect their legs from rubs.

What Are Tall Boots?

Tall boots are long riding footwear the equestrian wear, mostly when competing. These black boots are one piece and cover the calf to just below the knee.

The essential covers the same part of the foot and leg that a paddock boot, half chap combo does.

shiny black tall boots: paddock boots vs tall boots

Tall boots are more expensive than paddock boots, and some people find them less comfortable. However, they can provide more leg support than paddock boots with half chaps.

Most are black leather boots, but you can find some that incorporating colors.

English Riding Boots

Tall riding boots are used in English equestrian disciplines. They must fit well and good ones are made with leather.

I recommend avoiding rubber ones, as this synthetic material does not provide the same comfort, grip, or flexibility.

History of Tall Riding Boots

Tall riding boots as we know them first emerged during the 17th century.  They first appeared as a component of military uniforms and offered cavalry riders some extra leg protection and a smart appearance.

a dog following a lady wearing tall boots

Over time the style of the boot was refined to fit most snuggly, and give the rider more freedom of movement and grip.

Paddock Boots Vs Tall Boots

Paddock boots for horse riding do not cost as much as tall boots which makes them a more practical choice for everyday riding. It is easier to justify giving your paddocks a battering than your tall boots, which can cost several hundred dollars.

Tall boots provide more protection for your leg, and some people find them more supportive. Paddock boots are easier to take on and off, even with the popularity of adding zippers to tall boots.

Also, it can be unpleasant to break tall boots in. You usually have to buy them with slightly more height than your leg measurement. This means sore legs, especially in the area just behind the knee. 

When tall boots break in they will drop, this is why you need the extra height.

Types of Tall Riding Boots

There are two main types of horseback riding tall boots. Field boots, which are my preference, and dress boots. Thankfully, most of these boots now come with a discrete zipper that runs up the back of the calf.

I remember the days when this wasn’t the case, and taking these boots off was a nightmare.

Field Boots

Field boots are the type of tall boot that you will see in a jumping discipline. These boots have laces around the ankle area that you can loosen to help you get them on and off.

field boots

This type of boot is made with finer leather, usually high quality. The high-end brands provide a custom boot service and offer options with soft leather that does not require a lot of breaking in.

Field boots must fit snuggly around the calf and not site more than 1 or 2 inches below the knee.

Dress Boots

Dress boots are pretty much the same as field boots but they do not have laces. This type of stylish boot is most often seen on dressage riders. Sometimes, the smooth leather used in this style of tall boot is firmer than field boots.

black tall dress boots

FAQs

I’m sure you have some questions about paddock boots and other riding shoes, so I’ve answered a few here.

Should riding boots be leather?

Ideally, yes, riding boots should be leather. They provide more grip, comfort, breathability, and flexibility than rubber. Though there are some good synthetic leather options.

What not to wear when riding?

When riding, never wear shoes not designed for the purpose. This includes sneakers, crocs, flip flops, fashion boots, muck boots, hiking boots, and dress shoes. Basically, you should not wear anything that is not a paddock boot or tall boot.

Do men and women wear the same type of riding boots?

Men’s riding boots and women’s are the same. You will find both tall boots and paddock boots in styles for both.

Can you show with paddock boots?

dirty paddock boots

Yes, it is becoming more common for riders to show with paddock boots and half chaps. Brands have come out with matching sets that hide the fact that you don’t have on tall boots. You can also wear gaiters which are a dressier type of half chap.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed learning all about paddock boots. If you are one of the many beginner riders and just starting lessons, I recommend you get yourself a pair. Proper footwear is essential for horse riding.

You will have a wide array of affordable options, which you can upgrade if you get really into your riding. With all the boot style choices, there is no doubt you will find the perfect boot.

References

  • Drum, Michelle. 2020. “6 Best Paddock Boots.” Farm House Tack. Farm House Tack. November 16, 2020. https://www.farmhousetack.com/blogs/barn-blog/6-best-paddock-boots.
  • “History of Riding Boots.” 2017. Laurie Berglie – the Maryland Equestrian. April 19, 2017. https://themarylandequestrian.com/history-of-riding-boots/.
  • https://www.facebook.com/thespruceofficial. 2021. “Choosing Riding Boots: What to Wear, and What to Avoid.” The Spruce Pets. 2021. https://www.thesprucepets.com/choosing-boots-for-horseback-riding-1885875.
  • Spalding, Taylor. 2020. “How to Choose between Short and Long Riding Boots – Naylors Blog.” Naylors Blog. January 30, 2020. https://www.naylors.com/blog/choosing-between-short-and-long-riding-boots/.
black leather paddock boots

Paddock boots vs tall boots: what do you use? Which one suits you best? Please share with us below!

Siun L
Siun L

Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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