Just looking at the different types of riding boots can make your head spin.
What is the best one for me? Why type do I need? How long does it take to break in boots?
I understand these questions, so I’ve put together a guide that will explain everything you need to know about equestrian riding boots.
Start with the table below for a quick look at each type and its uses. Then read on for all of the details.
|Boot Type||Hacking||Competing||Yard Work|
|Low Heel Boots||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Western Riding Boots||Yes||Yes**||Yes|
CHECK: Best Riding Boots You Shouldn’t Miss
8 Types of Riding Boots
Over the years I’ve personally tried just about every type of riding boots for beginners.
Each type has a purpose and some are better for certain riding disciplines than others, while sometimes it just comes down to personal preference.
#1 Tall Boot
Tall riding boots are seen in English disciplines. Another name for this style is long riding boots. There are different types of this English boot.
You will see field boots in jumping disciplines, while dressage riders wear dress boots. These boots are almost always black and are one-piece that covers the calf snuggly stopping just below the knee.
It is most common to see tall riding boots in the competition arena. While beginners can wear them, a short riding boot is a better option. These English riding boots are always leather boots.
The majority are black leather but you can find them made with brown leather. It is increasingly common to see children wearing this style, but they are more suitable for experienced adult riders.
#2 Low Heel Boots
Low-heel boots are a newer, popular style. The first brand to come out with a pair of boots like this is Freejump. They created a special design to fit with their uniquely styled half chaps.
Many riders find this English style of the equestrian boot provides maximum comfort, as it is almost like a sneaker, but without the bulk or deep treads. A first they look like a strange running boot without a heel, but the sole does have a slight slope.
This style of boot is more flexible than tall boots or paddock boots. They are modern and sleek looking. However, these boots are better suited for experienced riders.
#3 Paddock Boots
What are paddock boots? These are my favorite and what I feel are the best types of riding boots overall.
Riders of all levels use these for everyday horseback riding right up to the top level.
This is a short boot that comes just above the ankle. There are two types of these ankle boots, one that has a zipper along the front and one with a lace-up closure.
They both have good and bad points and it will come down to your personal preference, which style you like.
If you are a beginner rider, this is the best choice for you. With this type of shoe, you will find the most choice in still and price, including the best winter horse riding boots.
#4 Jodhpur Boots
Jodhpur boots are pretty much the same as paddock boots. They are more old-fashioned and the only difference is that jodhpur boots are a pull-on style. This can make them a bit tricky to get on and off.
They are still a good choice for beginners, but younger children would find a zip boot much easier. You will find this boot style in real and synthetic leather. Many also have elasticized panels.
Jodhpur and paddock boots are great for all levels, including casual riding.
#5 Rubber Boots
I often see rubber boots on children starting riding lessons. I understand the reasoning behind parents purchasing these boots. They are not expensive and keep feet dry, making them good rain boots.
However, these are my least favorite types of riding boots. In fact, I really hate them! They are stiff and provide poor support. The rubber material makes it hard to have a good feel of the horse.
For novice riders, learning feel is one of the most important skills to master. I find beginners have a harder time keeping their heels down and mastering their leg position, especially in tall rubber riding boots.
Rubber tall or short boots are common with beginners and experienced riders will rarely use them.
I will touch on wellies next, as they are also rubber boots. Wellies are different from tall rubber riding boots as the calf is much looser and wider. I’m including this type of boot here as many people do ride in wellies.
However, they are not proper riding boots, and in reality, you should not ride in them. For beginners, this boot is even worse than the rubber riding boot because of its loose fit.
The best time to wear wellies is for barn work. They will keep your feet and calves dry and save your good riding boots from damage.
#7 Hunt Boot
The hunt boot is a traditional type of riding boot that is mostly seen in foxhunting. It is a tall boot, though it tends to sit a bit lower on the leg.
In addition to the length, the hunt boot has one feature that distinguished it from other tall riding boots. The top is ringed with a brown cuff of about four inches wide. This boot is also only worn by male riders.
The hunt boot is a specialized riding boot, it is not suitable for beginners or in certain English riding disciplines
#8 Western Riding Boots
While some western riders will at times use paddock boots, most will use suitable cowboy boots.
When it comes to adding your own personal style western riders have much more freedom than those who ride English.
There are several styles of western boots, some are more suitable for riding and others for barn work. For those taking part in western riding disciplines, these are the perfect starting type of boots for beginners.
Can you walk in riding boots?
Some riding boots are quite comfortable to walk in. However, I recommend you keep them just for riding. Working around the barn means you encounter plenty of dirt and water, which will ruin your boots. Other boots are pretty uncomfortable if you do a lot of walking in them.
Are short or long riding boots better?
For most riders and everyday riding short boots are better. Short boots are worn with half chaps. They are cheaper than long riding boots and most people find them more comfortable. You don’t need tall riding boots unless you are competing and they are required.
Do you need half chaps?
If you wear paddock or jodhpur boots, you will need to wear half chaps. The chaps help give you grip and protect your legs from rubs.
Hopefully, that helped! Once you break it down, it is much easier to understand the different kinds of boots available for riders.
If you are just starting out, a pair of paddock boots is your safest and best option. You can’t go wrong if you are learning to ride western.
- Jennifer Forsberg Meyer. 2009. “Glossary of Horse Terminology – Horse Terms & Definitions.” Expert Advice on Horse Care and Horse Riding. Expert advice on horse care and horse riding. October 29, 2009. https://www.equisearch.com/discoverhorses/glossary-of-horse-terminology-horse-terms-definitions.
- Martina. 2021. “The Ultimate Guide to Horse Riding Boots – Find out What You Need.” Equestrian Boots and Bridles. April 11, 2021. https://equestrianbootsandbridles.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-horse-riding-boots/.
- Millbry Hill. 2016. “The Ultimate Guide to Horse Riding Boots.” Millbry Hill. Millbry Hill. March 9, 2016. https://millbryhill.co.uk/blogs/news/the-ultimate-guide-to-horse-riding-boots#:~:text=The%20three%20styles%20are%20as,traditional%20’pull%20on’%20type..
Among these types of riding boots, which one do you use? We’d love to hear your thoughts with us below!
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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